The Taxi-Dance Hall: A Sociological Study in Commercialized Recreation and City Life (University of Chicago Sociological Series) (Paperback)
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First published in 1932, The Taxi-Dance Hall is Paul Goalby Cressey’s fascinating study of Chicago’s urban nightlife—as seen through the eyes of the patrons, owners, and dancers-for-hire who frequented the city’s notoriously seedy “taxi-dance” halls.
Taxi-dance halls, as the introduction notes, were social centers where men could come and pay to dance with “a bevy of pretty, vivacious, and often mercenary” women. Ten cents per dance was the usual fee, with half the proceeds going to the dancer and the other half to the owner of the taxi-hall. Cressey’s study includes detailed maps of the taxi-dance districts, illuminating interviews with dancers, patrons, and owners, and vivid analyses of local attempts to reform the taxi-dance hall and its attendees.
Cressey’s study reveals these halls to be the distinctive urban consequence of tensions between a young, diverse, and economically independent population at odds with the restrictive regulations of Prohibition America. Thick with sexual vice, ethnic clashes, and powerful undercurrents of class, The Taxi-Dance Hall is a landmark example of Chicago sociology, perfect for scholars and history buffs alike.
About the Author
Paul Goalby Cressey (1900–1955) was a social scientist in the University of Chicago’s Department of Sociology.
"This is perhaps my Ur book, a combination guaranteed to satisfy both my Cornell Woolrich induced taxi-hall obsession and my jones for gritty ethnography. . . . An unflinching, keenly observed portrait of the Chicago tax-dance hall circa 1928. Via extensive case studies, interviews, and even historical, economic and geographic analysis, [Cressey] captures the personality of the customers and dancers and the atmosphere of their noirish milieu. . . . This is the real noir."
— John Marr