Today’s installment of the Points Interview is the ninth of the series and, as ever, we’re grateful to find so many authors willing to discuss their work in this forum. That’s certainly true of entry #9–Burton Peretti, talking about his book Nightclub City: Politics and Amusement in Manhattan (paperback edition, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011). Interested readers can see the table of contents and an excerpt of the book here.
Describe your book in terms your mother (or the average mother-in-the-street) could understand.
Manhattan nightclubs in the 1920s were places your mother wouldn’t want you to go. They were frightfully expensive. Prostitutes and gangsters often worked in them. If you bought liquor in the clubs, you were breaking the law. If you were there during a Prohibition raid, you would be arrested. Governments at the city, state, and local level tried to stop the spread of nightclubs, and then they tried to regulate them in various ways. Do-gooder reform groups got into the act, too. Only the Great Depression killed off most Manhattan nightclubs, though. When the clubs revived later in the 1930s, they were tamer places. Liquor was now legal again and carefully regulated, and clubs catered to the middle class and conventioneer clientele. The new clubs paved the way for the mostly innocuous family entertainment found in the suburbs after World War II.