We Love Being Bad, Cuz It Sure Feels Good!

Police arrested Lew Rose a century ago today, revealing the limits of closing Storyville and the significance of the Dauphine Theater

On December 5th, 1919, Lew Rose was accused and convicted of violating Act 199 of 1912 by running a “disorderly house,” and permitting the act of lewd dancing in his public establishment, the Dauphine Theater. 

At 318 Dauphine Street, stood the Dauphine Theater along with other establishments that put on burlesque shows in secret, like the Greenwald Theater. The landscape of this street has long since changed, as did the numbering of these places, but the history still stands. But what occurred there shows us that the activity of Storyville didn’t go away when the city closed it in 1918, it just moved elsewhere.

During the height of Storyville, prostitutes ran amok and burlesque shows were performed often at various theaters spread across the area. These women that strutted their stuff in Storyville were scandalous and taboo for their choice of work and lascivious nature. Although Storyville was “the first legally designated red-light district in the history of the United States”(Arceneaux, Pamela, Guidebooks to Sin: The Blue Books of Storyville), being seen with a prostitute was looked down on, especially since times were changing and cities across America were getting more progressive.

Laws like Jim Crow specifically targeted black women and women of mixed blood, also known as octoroons from working and being able to “please” the white men. A famous octoroon who “turned her identity into a brand”(Landau), who would at the end of her life be known as the “tragic octoroon,” was none other than Lulu White.

While she died after living in poverty for years, in her prime, she ran Storyville and was a proprietress for many years. White painted a narrative of herself as a West Indian and “playing on the illegibility of race in New Orleans.” After several arrests, and the success of the downfall of Storyville, Lulu White’s popularity went away along with the crazy, sexy city.

And like the Dauphine, her history is still there.

Original Article: https://bit.ly/2Yiziq5

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