Manuscripts/Mixed Material [Harlem Rent Parties]
But the thing that makes the house-rent party (even now) so colorful and fascinating is the unequalled picture created by the dancers themselves. When the band gets hot, the dancers get hotter. They stir, throw or bounce themselves about with complete abandon; their wild, grotesque movements silhouetted in the semi-darkness like flashes from some ancient tribal ceremony. They apparently work themselves up into a frenzy but never lose time with the music despite their frantic acrobatics. Theirs' is a coordination absolutely unexcelled. It is simple, primitive, inspired. As far as dancing is concerned, there are no conventions. You do what you like, express what you feel, take the lid off if you happen to be in the mood. In short, anything goes.
About one o'clock in the morning; hilarity reaches its peak. “The Boys”, most of whom are hard-working# hard-drinking truck drivers, long-shoremen, moving men, porters or laborers, settle down to the serious business of enjoying themselves. They spin, tug, and fling their buxom, amiable partners in all directions. When the music finally stops, they are soaked and steaming with perspiration. “The Girls”, the majority of whom are cooks, laundresses, maids or hair-dressers, set their hats at a jaunty angle and kick up their heels with glee. Their tantalizing grins and the uniformly wicked gleam in their eyes dare the full blooded young bucks to do their darndest. They may have been utter strangers during the early