FLAPPERS BY JUDITH MACKRELL
Flappers compiles the fascinating stories of 6 women who spectacularly came of age in the roaring 1920s. Diana Cooper, Nancy Cunard, Tallulah Bankhead, Zelda Fitzgerald, Josephine Baker and Tamara de Limpicka transcended class and background to become the new women of the world. Dance writer Judith Mackrell is an engaging storyteller who pushes the cliches of this era aside to show us how these ‘Flappers’ did a lot more than just dance the Charleston.
The exceptional young girls, some from privileged families, others from poor, were talented artists, dancers and actresses who blazed a trail for women to choose their own lifestyles – from haircuts to sexual relationships – for the first time with varying consequences. They decided on their own sexual conquests (often many and of either sex), they earned their own livings, shortened their hairstyles and their skirts and let loose smoking, drinking, flirting and cussing in public. The “narrow-hipped, flat-chested flapper silhouette” became the desired look of the time though most admirers could only have dared dream about emulating their raucous behaviour as well as their style.
Marriages, affairs, lovers lost at war, drink, drugs, art, acting and dancing…oh and lots and lots of sex! Then there’s the jazz, art deco, Coco Chanel, the Left Bank cafe culture and monied luxury. These audacious women were on the fringes of society, equally at home in a palace or the gutter and throughout this book their stories seem to flutter as such. Rags to riches, riches to rags and back again.
The locations are exotic – London, New York, Paris, Monte Carlo – and their lifestyles are lavish and the opulence extreme making this a fantastic piece of escapist reading. The Flappers took risks, political and sexual, that leave you breathless at their daring.
When the Jazz era is swallowed up by depression, political and racial shifts and another war, the Flappers’ days of homosexuality, nudity and drunken dancing are numbered….