PHOTOGRAPH BY EVA WATSON SCHUTZE
NO WOMAN IN AMERICA TODAY IS SO CLOSELY IN TOUCH WITH THOSE GREAT SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC MOVEMENTS THAT ARE OUTSIDE OF THE HOME AND YET VITALLY TOUCH THE HOME AS JANE ADDAMS, OF HULL-HOUSE, CHICAGO. THE HOME-SHELTERED WOMAN OFTEN HEARS ABOUT CHILD LABOR, THE WORKING-GIRL'S WAGE, LABOR STRIKES, CONVICT LABOR, THE EMIGRANT PROBLEM, ETC., BUT A COMPREHENSIVE, AUTHORITATIVE EXPLANATION OF WHAT THESE VITAL QUESTIONS REALLY MEAN HAS NOT OFTEN COME HER WAY. MISS ADDAMS WILL, MONTH BY MONTH, ON THIS PAGE EXPLAIN WHAT THEY MEAN AND IN WHAT DIRECTION LIE THEIR REMEDIES -- OFTEN IN THE HANDS OF THE AMERICAN WOMEN THEMSELVES.
IF ANY POINT IN THIS ARTICLE DOES NOT SEEM PERFECTLY CLEAR ANY QUESTIONS WILL BE ANSWERED BY MAIL IF A STAMPED, ADDRESSED ENVELOPE IS [ENCLOSED]. ADDRESS MISS ADDAMS IN CARE OF THE LADIES' HOME JOURNAL.
THE recently established Department of Public Welfare in Kansas City assumes as one of its duties the supervision of all commercialized amusements, especially public dance halls.
Cleveland has recently passed a revised ordinance for the regulation of dance halls, which, if properly administered, will provide wholesome amusement for its patrons.
A Recreation Commission appointed last year in New York may not only supervise existing commercialized recreation, but also has power to make suggestions as the establishment of recreation piers and bathing beaches, and the opening of armories and drill halls for public dances.
A Department of Recreation is being planned in Milwaukee, and other cities have taken similar action.
All this because good people everywhere are at last awakening to the fact that unregulated amusement presents endless opportunities for enticing young people into wrongdoing.
In a general way these dangers have for a long time been recognized, and for many years the hours for closing saloons and the ages at which boys are permitted to spend their time in rooms have been rigidly prescribed.
THE PUBLIC DANCE HALLS OF CHICAGO
In Illinois, at least, a law is upon the statute books that no minor may be admitted into a public dance hall where liquor is sold. That this early type of repressive legislation is unenforced and has become actually misleading is made evident when newly arrived immigrant mothers, looking for recreation for their children, assume that licensed dance halls, opened under city regulation and protected by city policemen, are safe places. Many of these mothers find to their sorrow that the majority of dance halls in Chicago do not offer safe or wholesome recreation, and are, in fact, often feeders for the underworld. In the majority of these halls the State laws and city ordinances are broken, liquor is openly sold and the laws of common decency are violated.
In the winter of 1911 the Juvenile Protective Association of Chicago made a very careful investigation of the three hundred and twenty-eight public dance halls then open in the city, and has since continued to inspect them regularly.
The clever investigators, two young married couples, found that eighty-six thousand people frequented the dance halls on a Saturday evening; that of these the majority were boys between the ages of sixteen and eighteen and girls between fourteen and sixteen -- the very ages at which pleasure is most eagerly demanded as the prerogative of youth.
One condition they found to be general: most of the dance halls exist for the sale of liquor, not for the purpose of dancing, which is of secondary importance. Saloons opened into one hundred and ninety of the halls, and liquor was sold in two hundred and forty out of the three hundred and twenty-eight; in the others -- except in rare instances -- return checks were given to facilitate the use of neighboring saloons. At the halls where liquor was sold practically all of the boys showed signs of intoxication by twelve o'clock, possibly because it is almost impossible to get a drink of water in any of the halls. Saloonkeepers and bartenders, having in view solely the profits of their business, were in many cases the only [chaperones], and the waiters and employees of the dance halls were only too ready to give information regarding the location of disreputable lodging houses, which in seventy-seven cases were in close proximity to the halls.
AN EFFORT IS MADE TO INDUCE GIRLS TO DRINK
In these halls the young girls who are newcomers are treated with great attention, and, although the less sophisticated girls are scandalized, they are also fascinated. Very quickly an effort is made to induce the girls to drink, and, if possible, to get them intoxicated. In one case the investigator saw a young girl held while four boys poured whisky from a flask down her throat, she protesting half laughingly all the time that she had never had anything to drink before. An hour later she was seen intoxicated.
Older women often inveigle young country boys to their ruin; in one hall a boy, evidently new to the city, was seen looking for a partner. The one he found drank with him all the evening; she later persuaded him to give up his job, and the investigators found that at the end of a week she had induced him to go with her to St. Louis, to act as cadet for a disorderly house.
The dances may be divided into two classes: those given by the management or proprietors of the halls and those given by clubs and societies. At the former the dangers are more subtle, for, although the halls are cleaner and better order is preserved, drinks are higher priced and more intoxicating; the patrons are better dressed and there is an assumption of decency. But these dances serve as a rendezvous for evil-minded men and women, and crowds of young men attend with the sole idea of meeting girls for immoral purposes.
On the other hand the majority of the club dances are more openly dangerous, and are often marked by extreme disorder.
The men outnumber the women at all dances.
DANGERS OF MASQUERADE AND FANCY-DRESS BALLS.
Peculiar dangers are to be found in connection with masquerade and fancy-dress balls, where the masks encourage undue license, and where the prizes awarded for the best costumes consist of cheap jewelry, perfume, cigars and liquor donated by the neighboring tradesmen. A barrel of beer is usually awarded to the best group of men, and a dozen bottles of wine to the best group of girls. A quart of [whiskey] is the usual prize for a single character. At one hall it was found that a cash prize of one hundred dollars had been offered to the girl who at the end of the month had the largest number of drinks placed to her credit. As the saloonkeeper lives and thrives by the sale of liquor the dances are short -- from four to five minutes; the intermissions are long -- from fifteen to twenty minutes -- thus giving ample opportunity for drinking.
There is but little ventilation in these places. In some cases the windows were boarded up, apparently on the theory that the hotter it was the more thirst would be superinduced and the more liquor would be sold. Even in the halls where the windows were open the tobacco smoke and the fumes from the spilled liquor on tables and chairs, mingled with the dust arising from the floor, caused by the moving feet and swirling skirts of the dancers, made breathing both difficult and dangerous.
In dance halls which do not have connecting saloons the method of selling liquor is as follows: The dance-hall keeper procures a Government license for which he pays twenty-five dollars a year.
When a club applies for permission to rent the hall -- which the law says may be rented to any association "organized for fraternal, educational or charitable purposes" -- the dance hall keeper goes with the representative of the club, or loans him his Government license, and with this they secure a special bar permit, for which they pay six dollars each time. This special bar permit allows the sale of liquor from three o'clock in the afternoon until three o'clock the next morning, while under our city ordinances saloons are obliged to close at one A.M. If, therefore, there are any disreputable people in the neighborhood between the hours of one and three A.M. who wish to buy liquor they get it from these dance halls; and it is between these hours that the conduct of the dancers becomes obnoxious and that the dangers for young people are most apparent.
The carelessness of the city toward the social conditions in public dance halls is the more astounding in that we all know that they offer the only opportunity open to thousands of young men for meeting the girls whom they will later marry. That wise old dame Nature has always shown an anxious care that human beings should reveal themselves to each other, and at no time does she make the impulse so imperative as at that period when youth is dreaming of love and marriage.
Scientists tell us that the imaginative powers, the sense that life possesses variety and color, are realized most easily in moments of pleasure and comradeship. It is then that individual differences and variations are disclosed. All day long the young people work in factories where every effort is made that they should conform to a common standard; as they walk upon the street they make painful exertions to appear in a prevailing mode of dress and to conform to conventions. Only in moments of recreation does their sense of individuality expand; they are then able to reveal, as at no other time, that hidden self which is so important to each of us.
ONE MAN HELPED TO IMPROVE HIS PLACE
Sometimes the owners of the dance halls are themselves touched by the helplessness of these young people who come to them in such numbers. About a year ago the proprietor of a disreputable dance hall in Chicago came to the office of the Juvenile Protective Association, saying that he had seen some of its published reports in regard to the dance halls and he felt sure he was not conducting a proper place for young people, and that, owing to the sale of liquor and the excessive drinking, many young girls were in great danger. He asked the Association for advice as to the best method of running his hall.
He was told that he must close his saloon, abandon his wine room, separate the toilet rooms for men from those for women, and put in drinking fountains.
These he agreed to do, and did; but he came to the office of the Association a few months later, saying that he still felt that his hall was not respectable, as at the dances given there by societies who rented the hall liquor was sold under a special bar permit and girls and boys were drinking too much. He asked if the Association could not send some one to look after his hall, and said that he would be very glad to pay the salary of such an official.
The Association gladly complied with this request, and all winter a social worker whom it recommended was paid by the dance-hall keeper. This social worker became friendly with the people and the members of the clubs in the neighborhood. He has two good policemen to assist him, and the dances which have been conducted there during the last winter have been thoroughly respectable.
Some time ago this dance-hall keeper came to the office of the Association and, laying down his check for the salary of the worker, said: "It pays to be respectable, for I am now renting my hall more than I ever did before, as I have no difficulty in disposing of it to nice people; besides I can sleep nights when I think of the girls that come there."
THERE SHOULD BE WOMEN POLICE IN THESE HALLS
While many of the halls are greatly improved much more must be done in Chicago and elsewhere before the dance halls cease to be places where decent young people are too often decoyed into evil and where their search for pleasure easily leads into disgrace and crime. There should be women police in our dance halls to protect girls against young men who have plied them with liquor for illicit purposes; they should see that the country boys are not victimized by those who take advantage of the young and inexperienced. The very size of the city intensifies social intercourse into a pathological condition which makes it all the more necessary to supervise public recreation and to provide places where it may be carried on normally.
Jane Addams [signed]