Dance Hall Days: Intimacy and Leisure Among Working-Class by Randy McBee

By Randy McBee

The upward thrust of commercialized rest coincided with the arriving of thousands of immigrants to America's towns. clash was once inevitable as older generations tried to maintain their traditions, values, and ethnic identities, whereas the younger sought out the inexpensive amusements and sexual freedom which the city panorama provided. At immigrant picnics, social golf equipment, and concrete dance halls, Randy McBee discovers specified and hugely contested gender strains, proving that the conflict among the a long time used to be additionally one among the sexes.

Free from their mom and dad and their strict principles governing sexual behavior, operating girls took benefit of their time in dance halls to problem traditional gender norms. They sometimes handed yes males over for dances, refused escorts domestic, and embraced the sensual and actual facet of dance to additional intensify their stronger talents and skill at the dance ground. so much males felt threatened via women's monitors of empowerment and took steps to thwart the adjustments happening. conversant in road corners, poolrooms, saloons, and different all-male get-togethers, operating males attempted to rework the dance corridor into anything that resembled those popular hangouts.

McBee additionally reveals that males usually deserted the industrial dance corridor for his or her personal golf equipment, organize within the basements of tenement residences. In those hangouts, operating males confirmed ideas governing intimacy and rest that allowed them to manage the habit of the ladies who attended membership occasions. The collective demeanour within which they behaved not just affected the association of business rest but additionally males and women's struggles with and opposed to each other to outline the which means of relaxation, sexuality, intimacy, or even masculinity.

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Extra info for Dance Hall Days: Intimacy and Leisure Among Working-Class Immigrants in the United States

Sample text

With so few women in immigrant communities and parents who either closely supervised their daughters’ personal lives or intended to arrange their marriages, boarding not only promoted a certain amount of intermingling between the sexes but also allowed young single men to become better acquainted with the parents who might make it easier to find a bride. ” As Dattolo’s and Devich’s experiences suggest, many families took in boarders to increase their income at a time when their children were too young to contribute significantly to the family economy.

Then he come,” Malinowski recalled. ”63 The practice of arranging marriages was an obvious holdover from Europe. 64 Once Poles and Italians arrived in America, arranged marriages not only prevailed but, as Michelena Profeta’s case suggests, were often tied to a woman’s trans-Atlantic journey. As a result, young couples found that their courtships and intimacy revolved almost exclusively around family and friends. The parks, picnic groves, and weddings that figured so prominently in the lives of immigrants may have allowed them to snatch moments of autonomy away from the watchful eyes of their parents— not to mention their cramped tenement flats.

Apart from their parents’ watchful eyes, they could strike up a friendship or perhaps even a relationship that might lead to marriage, without having to deal with the typical problems they faced with tenement life. There were, of course, limits to the mixing of men and women at community events. At the funerals Liberato Dattolo attended, the men and women occupied different rooms, and at the picnics with which Dugas was familiar “some of the people . . ” Dugas explained that the young women, in particular, kept their distance from the boys at such gatherings.

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