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Sex, drugs and jazz! Jazz emotions in New Zealand’s jazz age


Fri 29 May 2020, 5:30pm–6:30pm

Where: Virtual Location, Online, Virtual

Restrictions: All Ages

Long before there was sex, drugs, and rock and roll, there was sex, drugs, and jazz. Join Dr Aleisha Ward in exploring the subversive nature of jazz in 1920s New Zealand. We will delve into why jazz was controversial and how it became inextricably linked to sex, drugs, and other immoral activity during the 1920s

Why was jazz controversial in the 1920s?
In the 1920s the new music and dance style called ‘jazz’ engendered musical, cultural, and emotional turmoil wherever it appeared. Jazz music and dance also quickly became the focus of so-called jazz emotions: the positive and negative experiences and emotions that were associated with ‘jazz’ during this decade.

Jazz means different things to different people
‘Jazz’ represented many things to different people, and was frequently tied into personal ideologies. Whether you thought jazz was a moral or musical crime as Salvation Army General Herbert Booth, and conductor Sir Henry Coward did, or whether you thought it was a venue for excitement, and escape, jazz burrowed its way into the collective consciousness.

In this presentation, we will explore the subversive nature of jazz in the context of 1920s New Zealand. From music and dance to jazzed emotions and the moral and physical dangers of jazzing (jazz as an activity, including dancing), jazz pervaded all aspects of society and, left turmoil in its wake. We will look at why jazz was controversial and how it became inextricably linked to sex, drugs, and other immoral activity during the 1920s.

RSVP and join us via Zoom
To join us for this talk, please RSVP via email

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About the speaker
Dr Aleisha Ward is the Research Librarian Music at the Alexander Turnbull Library. She is a world-renowned expert in the history of jazz in New Zealand and was the 2017 Douglas Lilburn Research Fellow and is a recipient of the Ministry of Culture and Heritage New Zealand History Trust Fund Award for her work on the Jazz Age in New Zealand. Aleisha is an award-winning author for her work on New Zealand jazz and also writes for
Image: A dance, location unidentified. Stewart, K A : Negatives of Wellington. Ref: 1/2-057592-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

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