new social conditions, new forms of interaction



One of my all-time favorite sociology books is Cressey’s The Taxi-Dance Hall. It is rich, deep, and lively. It chronicles the social interactions that arise from turn-of-the-last-century immigrants moving to a new city without their families and girlfriends, and how all sorts seek out the attentions of women through these dance halls. A ticket per dance (thus: ‘Taxi-Dance’):

The patrons of the taxi-dance hall constitute a variegated assortment. The brown-skinned Filipino rubs elbows with the stolid European Slav. (…) Gray-haired, mustached men of sixty dance a slow, uncertain one-step in response to the vivacious jigging of their youthful companions (…) Then there are pudgy men of forty or fifty who dance awkwardly (…) Young men are there too, boisterous youths who enter in groups of three and four and hang together at the outskirts of the side-line spectators. (…) May appear to be recent industrial recruits from the country, eager to experience some of the thrills of city life. Others may be foot-loose globe-trotters, hobo journeymen ‘traveling on their trade,’ for whom the normal steps in feminine acquaintanceship must be sped up. Still others, however, constitute a different type and suggest the sleekly groomed, suave young ‘business men’ of questionable antecedents. (…) Finally, there are a few men, handicapped by physical disabilities, for whom the taxi-dancer’s obligation to accept all-comers makes the establishment a haven of refuge. The dwarfed, maimed, and pock-marked all find social acceptance here.

Game Crush, the new Taxi-Dance Hall

And, for an updated version of this, New York Magazine has a fascinating article on bailarina bars: places for Spanish-speaking immigrant women to make money dancing for new immigrants and orthodox Jews. $2 a dance, $40 an hour, $500 a night. From the article:

Rosa started working at the Flamingo three years ago. The club had a reputation as one of the best bailarina bars in the city, and she’d been looking for a move up. She liked the fact that they opened at 4 or 5 p.m.—rather than 10 p.m. like most clubs. And Flamingo customers tended to go straight to the dance floor rather than sitting around and checking out the women for free. Plus, a phalanx of cameras, security guards, and bouncers put the kibosh on drug dealing, gang activity, and hands venturing too far below bailarinas’ waists. Rosa thought she’d make more money and have a better work environment.

Last week, a student mentioned something that reminded me of this. There is a website called ‘GameCrush’ that matches (presumably) boys and men with women to play video games with for $6.60 per game. According to one website, you can set your gaming mood from ‘dirty’ all the way to ‘filthy.’ I have to take their word for it, because a.) I don’t play those kinds of games, and b.) the website crashed due to over-demand on their servers.

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