The Roaring Twenties Entertainment

In the 1890’s, people worked nearly 60 hours a week whereas in the 20's average work weeks were around 45 hours. Wages rose to sometimes 30% more than what they were.

What did people do with all this extra time and money?

That’s where entertainment came in.

Warner Brothers Pictures was established in 1923

Entertainment was an important part of society in the 1920’s and new forms of it were becoming increasingly popular. Between 1919 and 1929 almost 4 billion dollars a year were spent on entertainment. This huge part of society in the 20’s still affects us today. Most forms of entertainment today can be related back to things that were still brand new to people in that time period.


Due to prohibition in this era, secret clubs and meetings controlled by crime members evolved all over America and Canada. They were called "Speakeasies," and sold illegal alcohol. To get into a speakeasy you needed to know the secret handshake, password, or knock. The clubs were hidden in the backs of stores or underground and were a great source of entertainment. People could meet to drink bootlegged alcohol, gamble, watch dancing girls, and listen to Jazz which was the most prominent music genre of the time.

Dance Craze

Dancing was another popular form of entertainment and often appealed to the younger crowd. Freer dancing styles were invented because clothes were less restricting and it was often seen as “Scandalous.” Dances that were created in this era included the Charleston, the Lindy-hop, and the Tango. Old favorites like the waltz and foxtrot remained popular as well.

Movies & Movie Stars

A very popular form of entertainment in the 20’s was going to see a silent film. Movies appealed to every type of crowd.

Charlie Chaplin - Rudolph Valentino - Buster Keaton - Douglas Fairbanks

There were comedies with stars like Charlie Chaplain and Buster Keaton, adventures, which had stars like Rudolph Valentino and Douglas Fairbanks, and several other genres including westerns and epics.

Detroit's Fox Theater - New York's Roxy

Movies could be viewed in a variety of different places as well. Theaters could be small and local or you could go to a movie “Palace” like Detroit’s Fox Theater, New York’s Roxy “Cathedral of the Motion Picture,” or New York’s Capitol Theater.


One popular pastime was listening to the radio. Between 1923 and 1930, 60% of American families bought radios. Radio was a way to escape everyday cares. One could sit and listen for hours to a variety of things such as music, comedies and plays, “soaps”, newscasts, and even children's programs. Even during the depression in the 1930's radio still remained an extremely popular form of entertainment.


While several new forms of entertainment were developed in the 1920's, people still enjoyed the classic pastime of reading a good book. Literature at that time included several different themes, such as romance, comedy, and tragedies, but most books seemed to have the same fundamental ideas.

A considerable amount of famous authors based their books on their own personal experiences, ideas, and morals. Some of the most known books of the era were The Great Gatsby by F. Scott FitzGerald, Babbit by Sinclair Lewis, The Wasteland by T.S. Elliot, and the Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway.

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