By Kelsee Jackson, dramaturg
The Edwardians were dedicated to creating their own sense of ‘self.’ Smashed between the time of Queen Victoria and the roaring 20s, society began moving away from Victorian ideals one day at a time. This was especially true in music and dance.
Edwardians still had balls which required good music, a nice place to dance, fancy dresses and suits, and good company. Men asked women to dance and there was enough food and drink to go around. It was possible to meet your future spouse at one of these events, making it an important social get-together for both the young and the old. For families like the Summerhays, these events were taken very seriously.
While the Victorian era was holding on, this was the beginning of a new era and a new century. While traditions such as balls and coming-out parties were continued, new things, like nightclubs, were introduced and quickly became popular. For obvious reasons, the kind of music that would be played at a nightclub would be different than what was played at a ball.
For kids who would go “out on the town,” ragtime was beginning to become popular as different music styles from around the world were introduced to England. Artists such as Irving Berlin and Ted Snyder were gaining popularity, and songs such as Maple Leaf Rag and Swing Low, Sweet Chariot were all the rage. For a snippet of what kinds of songs were well-known, listen below for Ada Jones and Billy Murray’s rendition of Shine On, Harvest Moon, recorded in 1909.