The Roaring 20th - History


The rules are: there are no rules.

Opium in the pipe, coke on the table. Life: a frenzy, a buzz. Josephine Baker dances her Banana Dance in the Nelson-Theater and says: „To realise our dreams, we must decide to wake up.“ But Berlin does not want to wake up. Excess instead of drabness. Hedonism to the Charleston beat. World War I is anything but digested; the first harbingers of the world economic crisis and Nazi regime drift across the hazy horizon – and still or specifically because: the desire for the lust for life – a life beyond the default settings.

On the other side of the Atlantic: prohibition. Al Capone commands the black market, with half of the Chicago police on his payroll. Illegal trade in alcohol, plus gambling, prostitution, protection rackets – the son of Italian immigrants obviously hasn‘t much truck with the bourgeois work ethic (even though he registers as an antiques dealer in the business directory) and invests the dirty money he earns in laundromats… which is why, even today, in the new Twenties, we still refer to money laundering. These are the other aspects of the Roaring Twenties.

A decade of upheaval

They are, very generally, a decade of upheaval, the Twenties of the last century, and they were certainly not for everyone the golden years they have been romanticised to be in retrospect.

What will our Twenties usher in?

Nonetheless: the avant-garde looks for new forms of expression to free themselves from the high-handed and in the end above all dis-honest rhetoric of the German Empire. Aesthetics become more purist – the New Objectivity determines art and culture; Walter Gropius founds Bauhaus in Weimar; and Hugo Ball, born in Pirmasens and co-founder of Dadaism, writes (possibly also with a pinch of opium in his pipe) mind-expanding lines such as:
gaga di bumbalo bumbalo gadjamen
gaga di bling blong
gaga blung

But what will our Twenties usher in? What will we write in our history books? Will they
(remain) dominated by the over-saturated lethargy of the Western world, where the level of suffering swings between gluten-free food-stuffs and post-coital jadedness?

When the time comes, will the records of those who judge our Twenties contain revolution or resignation? We don‘t know – but we should know that the time has come at last to shout out loud.
This is the only way we will have the possibility to (re)write history – with and into the new Roaring Twenties.