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Eat, drink and be happy!

by ace
Eat, drink and be happy!

Les Années Folles, The Roaring Twenties or The Golden Decade. Thus, in these sonorous forms, the 10 years of unrestrained rhythms and hedonistic drives were dubbed, in which airplanes began to cross the skies (Amelia Earhart was the first pilot to fly over the Atlantic Ocean, in 1928), women drove cars (Dorothée Aurélie Pullinger created, in 1923, the Galloway, the first car designed specifically for women), they dared to smoke publicly and occupied the terraces of Paris. A decade, between 1920 and 1929, that history knows for its tender nights and violent awakenings and that we all miss and without having lived in it.

The times that followed the 1918 armistice were strange. More than 14 million deaths caused by a war that, for four years, had spread to half the world and left the people with a longing for a clean slate and a new beginning. It was believed that that war, the first truly global war in history, was destined to end all wars. Too much had been lived with death and misery. The Spanish Flu, from 1918 to 1919, wiped out millions of people worldwide. So, in the decade that followed, they had to savor life to the limit because nothing was more volatile than happiness and youth.

Tender is the night

A new lifestyle was imported from the United States: modern, young, vibrant. Housewives resorted to the first appliances that promised to make them freer to take care of themselves and enjoy life. Attentive to the new needs of men and women was also the industrialist Henry Ford. Thanks to the assembly lines of its factories, its T model allowed the average American to travel in his own economical vehicle, as well as very few women in the USA, France and England. Between 1923 and 1929, American industrial production grew by 64 percent. Giants like the United States Steel Corporation, General Motors, Ford, Standard Oil and Gulf Oil were flying their standards all over the place.

The motto of the 1920s was "Eat, drink and be happy because … we will not live forever". The law was that of pleasure. Fox trot, charleston and shimny were frantically danced, King Oliver, Bessie Smith or Louis Armstrong were heard with religious fervor. Jazz bands were invited to record records so that their fans could hear them at home as well.

Youth discovered the charms of nightlife. Tender was the night, as the American Francis Scott Fitzgerald writes, the novelist who best translates the volatile spirit of the decade. In New York, they became legendary night clubs like the Cotton Club or Marocco. In Paris, the café-concert imposed new stars like Maurice Chevalier, Mistinguett or the American Josephine Baker, who dared to show herself naked. Black, from the depths of the racist South of the United States, found in Paris an oasis of understanding for her art. Dressed only in feathers or with a banana belt, she became an icon of sensuality and exoticism that delighted the public. Pablo Picasso, another adopted Parisian, evidently seduced, called him the "Nefertiti of now".

In London, Ada "Bricktop" Smith, a mulatto singer from Virginia, accepted students to learn how to dance charleston. Among others, full of desire to experiment, the heiress Nancy Cunard and the Prince of Wales, future King Edward VIII, appeared. It was for her that Cole Porter composed the famous song Miss Otis Regrets. Alongside this revelry, the thrilling shows of the Folie Bergère or the dazzling shows of the Ziegfeld Follies flourished.

In Portugal, the Lisbon of the First Republic also discovered the charms of long bohemian nights. Night clubs such as the Bristol Club, Maxim or Palace proliferated, the most luxurious of all. They played, drank, danced and flirted until dawn, preferably to the sound of a jazz band. Aware of the secrets that the night hides, Reinaldo Ferreira, the mythical Repórter X, sniffed stories. And it counted that of Charlotte, French in eccentric ways, a former circus artist and lover of a croupier, who would have brought the novelty of cocaine to the Portuguese capital. So new, the substance is not yet prohibited, but the rumors of the misfortunes caused by it lead the pair of composers Almeida Amaral and Cruz e Sousa to compose the song Maldita Cocaína. She will be heard for the first time in Charivari magazine, taken to the scene in Parque Mayer, in 1929. Many years later, Filipe La Féria would give her a new life in a musical that evoked those years when, in fact, she danced over the volcano of a self-destructing Republic.

The decade of women

Symbols of sin and transgression, figures like this mysterious Charlotte or Josephine Baker also radiate a new aura of seduction. Women have become protagonists in the world of entertainment. Cinema did not yet speak fully (The Jazz Singer would debut in 1927, a musical with Al Jolson), but it already provided the idols of millions. Among them were figures like Gloria Swanson, Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford, Theda Bara, Lilian Gish, Mary Pickford, Norma Shearer, Janet Gaynor, Mary Pickford, Pola Negri or Clara Bow, who became the first "it" girl, inspiring millions of spectators and influencing behaviors and fashions.

Hollywood, a dream machine, was structured. Major studios such as Columbia Pictures, Metro Goldwyn Mayer, Warner Brothers or RKO were born. Scandals involving stars sold magazines such as "hot rolls" and, in 1926, Rudolfo Valentino's sudden death tore apart the large thousands of heartthrob fans. At the funeral, besides the bride, Pola Negri, a crowd of desperate women attended.

This new female protagonism is not occasional. The 1920s could also rightly be called the women's decade. After World War I took many of them to work outside the home, namely in nursing, in factories, in agriculture or in the transport sector, many of them did not want to be just housewives again. Others, quite simply, could not even face this idea, since the war had made them widows, often leaving them with dependent young children. This new economic independence would bring many changes over the next decade: in politics, in legislation, in education, in companies and, of course, at home and in family relationships, perhaps the sector most resistant to changes in mentality.

The postwar period brought, first of all, the extension of the female vote, so earnestly claimed by suffragettes since the last quarter of the 19th century, of Scandinavian countries (the first European country to recognize the right to vote for women outside Finland, in 1906) to other regions of the globe. Near the end of the war, it was up to Canada, Russia, Germany and Poland to do so. In 1918, Great Britain would recognize this right for women over 30, as would the United States, two years later, with the approval of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. But when, a few years later, the extension of this right to younger women was discussed, Time magazine sentenced, morally, that under no circumstances could the fate of nations be trusted to the judgment of someone whose great concerns were a "new dance, a new hat or a man with a car ". Despite opinions like this, certainly shared by many, universal suffrage would advance, both in the United States and in the United Kingdom, even before the end of the decade.

The devilish flappers

But who were these girls that caused so much controversy? They were ubiquitous in advertising (especially for cosmetics and fashion, but also for brands, such as Coca-Cola) and in the press of the time (as shown, for example, in newspapers such as Diário de Lisboa, founded in 1921, or magazines such as Portuguese Illustration or Fashions & Embroidery). In Portugal, they were often designated by the name given to their hairstyle ("Joãozinho") and in Brazil the curious term "flapper" was preferred. The origin of the designation flapper is unknown, but in the crazy years the word easily entered the language of everyday life, inspiring, as early as 1920, the title of a collection of short stories by Scott Fitzgerald (apparently inspired by Zelda, his wife ), entitled Flappers and Philosophers. Although it was not known, for sure, how to translate the term into other languages, it was known what it meant: girls who were almost always very young who wore their hair cut above their ears, skirts at the knee and who smoked and danced nightly in the new jazz clubs. Some, astonished, even drove their own car. They radiated a new energy that seemed to be taking cities by storm and were not afraid to fight for economic independence. To the scandal of many who considered the order of things to be subverted. In 1919, a chronicler of the British Daily Mail, alarmed, drew attention to the fact that World War I left Europe with a "large surplus of women". For the surplus, read the number of girls who would remain unmarried!

New times, new fashion

The fashion revolution that accompanied such a change in customs did not begin in the 1920s. It began to creep over the previous decade, with the lightening of the female silhouette being offset by the wealth of fabrics. In Paris, in the years immediately before the war, Paul Poiret freed his wealthy customers from their corsets to propose shapes inspired by what he thought to happen in the serrades of the Middle East: wide, flowing trousers and skirts, coats and bibs of ornate dresses like tapestries .

In the following years,…

(tagsToTranslate) 20 years (t) 100 years (t) Centenary (t) First Republic (t) Années Folles (t) Amelia Earhart (t) The Roaring Twenties (t) Dorothée Aurélie Pullinger (t) The Golden Decade (t ) Francis Scott Fitzgerald (t) Atlantic Ocean (t) Galloway (t) Charlotte (t) Paris (t) United States (t) Pola Negri (t) Josephine Baker (t) Bessie Smith (t) Reinaldo Ferreira

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