Melbourne University Publishing

Harlem Nights

The Secret History of Australia’s Jazz Age by Deirdre O'Connell

Summer Reading Guide

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Summer Reading Guide

Add to Calendar Australia/Melbourne Harlem Nights The Secret History of Australia’s Jazz Age by Deirdre O'Connell

The 1920s were a time of wonder and flux, when Australians sensed a world growing smaller, turning faster-and, for some, skittering off balance. African-American jazz represented the type of modernism that cosmopolitan Australians craved-and the champions of White Australia feared. Enter Sonny Clay’s Colored Idea. Snuck in under the wire by an astute promoter, the Harlem-style revue broke from the usual blackface minstrel fare, delivering sophisticated, liberating rhythms.
The story of their Australian tour is a tale of conspiracy-a secret plan to kick out and keep out ‘undesirable’ expressions of modernism, music and race. From the wild jazz clubs of Prohibition-era LA to Indigenous women discovering a new world of black resistance, this anatomy of a scandal-fuelled frame-up brings into focus a vibrant cast of characters from Australia’s Jazz Age.

Uncover the story at the Melbourne University Publishing website

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