Why Is It Called The Roaring '20s?

By | May 11, 2020

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Magazine illustration of a roaring '20s party, New York , New York, 1926. (Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images)

From provocative jazz music and scandalous flappers to snazzy bootleggers and felonious gangsters, the 1920s certainly roared with unconventional attitudes and activities. It was a time of great change as the country moved away from the vestiges of the Victorian era toward a modern, liberated, youthful society. Let's look at the ways the 1920s roared with change

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Influenced by African-American musicians, jazz music became synonymous with the 1920s. (biography.com)

The Roaring Jazz Age

The 1920s is also known as the Jazz Age. This new genre of music emerging from the dance halls of New Orleans was fun, upbeat, and totally danceable, making it wildly popular with the It girls of the time who just wanted to have fun. As jazz spread across the country, it created a domino effect that irreversibly changed the direction of American society. First, it legitimized African-American musicians who, for the first time, found themselves performing for mixed-race audiences. Second, the jazz sound impacted other art forms, such as literature, graphic design, and poetry. Lastly, jazz music was sexy. It opened the door for a more freewheeling attitude toward love and romance.

Thanks to new innovations such as the radio and the record player, the whole country could enjoy the jazz sound, but not everyone was a fan. Many older people cringed at what they labeled "perverse" and "immoral" music, but thanks to the influence of the performers (not to mention the novels of F. Scott Fitzgerald), jazz was here to stay.