Fads of the 1920s To show the different opportunities that fads offered people to experience during the 1920s. According to the Cambridge English Dictionary a fad is known as ¨a style or activity that suddenly becomes popular but which usually does not stay popular for very long¨(Cambridge English Dictionary,1). During the 1920s, fads were a way for people to try new things, and do what they wanted to do. An example of this would be a flapper. A flapper as defined in Merriam Webster is ¨a young woman of the period of World War I and the following decade who showed freedom from conventions (as in conduct)¨(Merriam Webster,1) .
In August of 1920 women were given the right to vote, which expanded their thought of expressing who they wanted to become. One way a flapper was different from the average women is that they had very active night lives(Flappers,1). During the night they would go to Jazz Clubs, Vaudeville shows and Speakeasies(Flappers,1). With the change in activities it would mean a way of transportation would be needed, which introduced the increase of the number of women who were driving(Spivack,1). During their nights they would engage in activities such as dancing, smoking and drinking(Flappers,2). Some people wondered if women did this because they were trying to show who they really were or if they were trying to become more like men(Flappers,1). Also flappers were more likely to have male friends than female friends(Spivack,3). Besides a change of activities they participated in their were also a few physical aspects that shaped a flapper.
With this new-found freedom women decided to take a chance by changing they way they dressed. Women decided that they were going to start shortening the hemlines of their dresses(Flappers,1). With this change it would mean more skin showing which would consider them more scandalous than the typical woman. With this semi-big change women decided to take a bold approach and started banding their chests(Flappers,1). With this came another alteration to their physical appearance which was chopping off their hair that maybe physically made them more free and like a weight lifted off their shoulders.
Clara Bow was perceived as the it for girl in Hollywood for the role of the flapper(Flappers,2).During this time there were a few ways to describe the flapper from the perspective of a towns person. This would be “a prostitute or immoral women. A wild, flighty young woman. A young bird, wild duck, that’s flapping its wings as its learning to fly.(Spivack,3)” “The embodiment of the 1920s free spirit was the flapper, who was viewed disdainfully by an older generation as wild, boisterous, and grateful(Spivack,3). Another fad to tryout would have been dance marathons. Dance marathons were basically contests to see who could keep moving for the longest amount of time.
Another name for this would have been walkathon. During dance marathons people had received the option to walk, dance, run, shuffle, and etc. as long as you were moving. As a way to keep people from stopping movement they would go around with rulers and whack people to keep the going. Also they were each given a fifteen minute break during each marathons for rest, bathroom breaks, and food consumption. Some would find ways to fall asleep quickly for the break time allotted and sleep for a awhile and be up and ready before time was up. During each marathon you would have received a total of twelve meals during your participation time.To be admitted into a dance marathon you would have had to pay a fee of twenty-five cents and you would have been able to stay as long as you would have wanted to.
Marathons were held in Yakima, Seattle, Bellingham, Spokane and various other cities. Three fourths of the viewers that came and watched were women. During this time dance marathons became a big threat to the local movie theater because they were getting their usual business so they were losing money. Another thing it threatened were people’s lives. In Seattle, Washington, dance marathons had become banned when a woman had attempted suicide when she found out she had only received fifth place for having competed nineteen days straight. They also had become banned in other towns due to the fact that they had become loud and disruptive.
Flagpole sitting is another fad the that was very time-consuming. Alvin Aloysius also known as “Shipwreck Kelly” was the first person to start flagpole sitting. Alvin received his nickname after he had survived a total of thirty-two shipwrecks. The goal of flagpole sitting was to sit on the towns flagpole for the longest amount of time. Shipwreck Kelly says that “The top of a flagpole is the only safe place for a married man to be.” For Alvin this was a way to escape reality and just have fun. Alvin later went to Baltimore for a competition and sat on a sixty foot flagpole for forty-five days straight.
While in Baltimore he experienced a variety of weather but still managed to make it through those six weeks. He then went to Madison Square Garden and sat on a flagpole for twenty-two days and six hours. Fifteen year old Avon Foreman set a record for ten days, ten minutes and ten seconds. He held the record for young adults.
Fads were very influential in the lives of people during this era. They were an escape from what was going on in there lives and gave them a chance to have fun. The fads of the 1920s gave people the opportunity to tryout new things and find themselves.