Malkin Lecture: Everybody’s Doin’ It: Sex, Music, and Dance in New York 1840–1917

In the seventy years before WWI, music, drink, dance, and sex mingled and thrived in the New York City underworld. In his talk musicologist Dale Cockrell explores the convivial meeting places where the big business of prostitution gave birth to new American music. Whether a single piano player or small band, live music was a nightly feature in hundreds of spirited basement dives, dance halls, brothels, and concert saloons. There men and women, and often blacks and whites together, danced wildly to intoxicating music—to the horror of the moralistic elite. This rollicking demimonde drove innovative new music, including ragtime and jazz, and the development of sexy new dance styles. “Everybody’s Doin’ It” illuminates the how, why, and where of America’s popular music and dance, and traces a buoyant journey that stretched from downtown Five Points to midtown Tin Pan Alley, then all the way to Harlem.

Dale Cockrell a specialist in American popular music, is Professor Emeritus of Musicology at Vanderbilt University and a Research Associate of the University of the Free State (South Africa). He is the author of fourteen books and editions, and more than seventy articles, and is the founder of The Pa’s Fiddle Project, an educational program dedicated to recording the music of the Little House books and reconnecting the nation’s children with the rich music legacies embedded in them. He was recently honored with a “Lifetime Achievement Award” from the Society for American Music.

Image: “Old Coney Island” by Hy. Mayer, from Rupert Hughes, The Real New York (1904)


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Wednesday, November 20

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