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Crusade to Ban Jazz

In almost any collection of old acoustic 78's (or Diamond Discs), that you may chance to come across in a second-hand shop, likely as not there will be an assortment of "dance" tunes (or jazz as they were referred to in those days).

These were the bread-and-butter products of the recording studios and while it must be admitted that this material kept many of the record companies solvent during the "radio craze" few of the performances have much musical or artistic value today.

At the time, however, jazz was viewed as an unsettling force to be reckoned with, much like rock-n-roll was in the 50's and 60's. The following article from the October 1921 Issue of Musical Canada is a potpourri of newspaper reports of protest against the popular craze.

Don't some of the statements have a familiar ring?

Jazz Curfew Ordered

New York, Sept. 23 - Quaint Greenwich Village, New York's Bohemian quarter, famous in song and story as the home of new thought, has something to occupy its attention - a jazz curfew. This ultra-modern idea was not of the village's own initiative. It was decreed by a matter-of-fact magistrate in Jefferson Market Court, who ordered the clanking cowbells and the moaning saxophones to cease their jangle in the Cherry Blossom Tea Room an hour before midnight, in order that complaining nearby tenants might sleep.

Put Ban On Jazz

Winnipeg, Sept. 3 - F.A. Tallman, Secretary of the Musicians' Union said today: "We want to get rid of this jazz stuff. You know what I mean - fellows who hang over the piano when they play, who stand on their heads or leap from one side to the other." The union at the next meeting will consider a resolution aimed to eliminate the musician who plays a light instrument and dances round, prodding ladies in the back and generally making a nuisance of himself. There are about 500 members of the Musicians' Union in Winnipeg, and it is expected that the motion will carry easily. If so, all jazz players will be ousted from the union, which will bar them from local orchestras.

"Danger Of "Ragtime Nation"

Mrs. Mary Oberndorfer, National Chairman of Music of the General Federation of Women's Clubs, is leading a crusade to eliminate suggestive songs and dances. She asserted, "Congress should pass laws barring obscene songs from the mails and from all interstate commerce. Parents do not realize the words now being sung by young people as they dance, and the nation is being demoralized by cheap, vulgar songs. Publishers are trying to make a jazz and ragtime nation of the United States. Something is wrong when dance tunes must be called by suggestive names in order to sell them. The G.F.W.C. will co-operate with dancing teachers to have better music used. Mothers of the land are awake to the importance of the question," she stated.

"You should see me dance the polka, You should see me cover the ground!" sang Rosina Vokes and most of her hearers agreed with her when she described it as "the jolliest dance I know". How many dancers today even know what the polka was? There was a good deal of fun in it, just the same, and much more modesty than belongs to most of the new steps. We who are used to jazz can hardly imagine why these older dances were also denounced in their time as perilous. Perhaps a generation hence there may be dances in comparison with which the jazziest present gyrations will be tame. But that is doubtful. There is a limit to all fashions, and the attitude of the dancing masters suggests that in the case of dancing the limit has been reached. In other words, Jazz has been 'run into the ground' and that will kill anything.

How Ya Gonna Keep 'Em Down On The Farm?

The chief reason young people have for leaving the farms has been the allure of the cheap dancing places in the city. People will not stay on the farms or go back unless some good substitute is provided.

Objected one jazz producer, who took up the cudgels today in defense of his art, "But there simply ain't no good substitute - yet. Jazz is the greatest thing we've got. When my agents get back from Central Africa we may have something new and better to offer 'em, but jazz Is the best we can do at present.