Banning Fun: New Year’s Eve, 1913On January 1, 2020 by Elyse
In the waning weeks of 1913, Carter Harrison IV, mayor of a city renowned for its vices, was determined to stamp all the merriment out of Chicago’s New Year’s celebrations:
Late-night drinking and tango dancing and hat tickling, oh my! I hadn’t heard of a hat tickler, but since it’s forbidden, I’ve never wanted an accessory more in my life—except for a knee watch.
Some applauded the mayor’s directives:
However, coming from a city that had recently issued a bestselling, 400-page report—The Social Evil in Chicago—detailing problems far more serious than tango dancing, most reacted to the proclamations just as you’d expect:
So, how did this New Year’s Eve lid work out for Mayor Harrison and carousing Chicagoans?
With a “sane” New Year’s ordered by the police, a $250,000 flood of champagne turned on by the big restaurants and a watch night service in almost every church, Chicagoans had their choice of celebrations tonight. Horns, confetti and ticklers were forbidden by mayor Harrison, but the street crowds had plenty of noise producers and were not noticeably subdued by the regulations. . .
The restaurant gayety showed the influence of the widespread contagion of the tango and other new dances. There was less noise and less breakage, it was said, but more singing and dancing than ever before. . .
An army of 250 church workers was enlisted by one law-enforcement league to take evidence of violations of the closing act. Restaurant keepers, notified of this, did not make any change in their arrangements.– The Salt Lake Tribune, January 1, 1914
Best wishes for a happy, healthy, hat-tickling New Year!
Disclaimer: The modern era is far from the first to grapple with rampant “fake news.” As I am neither a historian nor journalist, I make no claims about the accuracy or lack thereof of the above historical articles. I assert only that they make for a good story.
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