Archive for Friday, February 3, 2012

100 years ago: Mayor Bishop contends that there are no immoral dances in Lawrence

February 3, 2012


From the Lawrence Daily Journal-World for Feb. 3, 1912:

"In a statement given out this morning Mayor Bishop emphatically denied the existence in Lawrence of any 'public dances' as stated by members of the Council of the Lawrence Federation of Women's Clubs. [Their] statement is that in Lawrence there are various public dances where a condition of affairs exists that verges on immorality and are bad in their influence on the students. Because of these dances, the women state that they will ask the city to appoint an inspector of public 'amusements' and see what can be done to eliminate such features from the civic life of Lawrence. The women also said that infamous dances such as the 'Turkey Trot' and 'The Grizzly Bear' existed at these dances and that it was no infrequent occurrence that liquor was served. Mr. Bishop this morning in his statement says: 'I know that there are no such places in Lawrence. If they are here, as it has been declared, I wish that some one would show me where they are. There has not been a soul come to see me about these matters. None of these women has taken the matter up with me. If they had, I should have given the matter my immediate attention.... The city of Lawrence has never been cleaner than it is now. When the Red Light District was shut down in Kansas City, there were ten or twelve of those women who came to Lawrence. We caught them at once, arrested them, fined them, and sent them out of town.... These 'public dances' that are talked about are attended by college boys, they say, but NOT by college girls. Who then is being held up as attending these affairs. I will investigate every charge that is brought to me. The college dances now are the best they have ever been. Why, they have chaperones now and I know that every legislation possible is being made to conduct these dances on the best scale possible.' Every word that Mayor Bishop said rang true.... Do you know of any 'dives' that are being run in Lawrence at present? Do you know of any 'den of iniquity' that is being conducted here? Do you know of 'public dances' that are marked by the atmosphere that hangs over a 'dance hall'? If you do it is your duty to report these things to Mayor Bishop."


Sarah St. John 5 years, 8 months ago

"I know that there are no such places in Lawrence. If they are here, as it has been declared, I wish that some one would show me where they are."

Thanks, Mayor Bishop, for my first spit-take of 1912. :-)

Sarah St. John 5 years, 8 months ago

Okay, here's some background....

I couldn't use this earlier, but here's what went down in Kansas City shortly after Christmas 1911:

"To Help Women of Red Light District - A Committee Today Made a House to House Visitation in Kansas City. -- Offer Good Homes And Work -- Every 'Red Light' Must Go Out at Midnight on Saturday. -- A Home Will Be Provided for the Women Who Decide that the Righteous Way Shall be Theirs. -- Kansas City, Dec. 27 -- A committee of women religious workers visited the red light houses south of Twelfth street this afternoon to persuade the women residents to take a new start in life. They offered every woman a respectable home and a position in which she could earn an honest living.... The women had a special escort of policemen. Under orders of the police commissioners every read light in the south district must go out at midnight Saturday. The women who undertook the task of extending the helping hand believe it is an opportune time. A home will provided for the women who give up the improper life and the address will not be made public and a home will be operating as any ordinary boarding house, so no stigma may follow the women who will attempt to reform."

Well, apparently not all the women wanted to take advantage of this kindly offer of the Righteous Way of a respectable home and an honest living.... because within a couple of days, some of them apparently showed up in Lawrence. Remember this? Shenanigans!!

Sarah St. John 5 years, 8 months ago

And lest you think that only Lawrence, Kansas, was troubled by Immoral Dancing.... here's something from mid-January from Nevada of all places.

"Reno, Nevada, Jan. 18. -- By an order issued today by the board of regents of the University of Nevada, all dancing is barred at that institution. Following the issuing of the order excitement reigns among the students. "The order issued prohibits all future dances, until the regents decide that they wish to have this pleasure listed among those of the college students. The issuing of this mandate followed a special meeting of the board of regents and now the student body stands divided in the matter of opinion. Certain students assert that the cause of the order can not be a 'rag time' dancing including the Grizzly Bear and the Turkey Trot for they have never been indulged in. "Others say that undergraduates have frequently taken advantage of moonlight waltzes to indulge in a few steps of the celebrated 'turkey trot' and have been observed when the lights were suddenly switched on. "Among the coeds but little is to be heard. The young women have long waged war upon the practice of certain students attending dances with fair divorcees, for it appears that the divorcees would always be surrounded by a crowd of boys and the college girls be left to sit out dance after dance throughout the entire evening. Naturally the dances were not enjoyed for no girl likes to be classed as a wall flower and see her escort confine his attentions to some decree seeking woman. "It was announced during the early part of December that divorcees would not be allowed to attend the junior promenade, but it was noticeable that the announcement did not serve as a barrier for on the night of the dance there was a good sprinkling of women from the colony present. "With one faction arrayed against the practice of ragging, and the coeds bitterly fighting against the presence of the divorcees it has been apparent that some action would surely result, and the announcement prohibiting all dances, although somewhat stringent, was not unexpected."

FlintlockRifle 5 years, 8 months ago

WOW, doing the Griz and Turkey were considered immoral just a hundred years ago along with liquor, oh to shame. Mayor Bishop would have a calf if he were alive today and mayoring our town, Keep them coming Miss Sarah.

Sarah St. John 5 years, 8 months ago

"Mayor Bishop would have a calf if he were alive today and mayoring our town..."

I don't know; he sounded just a little too eager to find out where these parties were. Strictly for law-enforcement purposes, I'm sure. wink

jhawkinsf 5 years, 8 months ago

Imagine the changes coming in the next hundred years.

pace 5 years, 8 months ago

As a young divorced person when I came to Lawrence, I can only offer a link

LadyJ 5 years, 8 months ago

These 'public dances' that are talked about are attended by college boys, they say, but NOT by college girls. Ummm, so they were Gay dances? I would think they would be more upset about that than prostitution. (sarcasm intended)

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