1920’s Harlem Renaissance

  • Harlem Renaissance 1921-1933
  • Black musicians, singers, and dancers became really popular with white audiences.
  • Black dancers had steady work.
  • Between 1921-1939 there were about 40 black musicals.
  • There were performers at exclusive clubs in Harlem like The Cotton Club, Barron Wilkins’ Exclusive Club, and Connie’s Inn.
    • These clubs catered to rich whites and the entertainment rivaled any Broadway show.
  • Colorism played a larger role for performers. Only light skin performers would get hired.
  • The most famous dance to come out of the 20’s was the Charleston.
    • The first dance craze to take the world by storm
  • The Charleston has African roots, tied to the Ashanti people. It was also seen in Haiti. The name came from Charleston, South Carolina.
  • Elida Web was the first to put the Charleston on the stage in the show “Runnin Wild” in 1923.
  • During this time period domestic workers were paid more than performers.
  • The Cotton Club and other clubs of the era had performers of the likes of The Nicolas Brothers, Bojangles and Clarence “Buddy” Bradley.

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