After Dark: the Origins of Cabaret

The first ever examination of the origins and development of cabaret and its key performers, focused on the period 1910-1930 when supper entertainment attained its fullest expression on both sides of the Atlantic.

After Dark is timely because of the resurgent interest and current vogue for ballroom dancing, burlesque and cabaret. But what is cabaret and where did it come from? You will be surprised to learn that there is NO book on the market that explains how modern cabaret entertainment evolved. So this is a peek behind the completely hidden world of late night supper entertainment explaining the origins and development of cabaret and the dancing craze.

It is global in outlook exploring the transatlantic network of nightlife of major European and American cities – New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Berlin, London, Berlin, Paris, Deauville, Biarritz and the Riviera. So if you want to know what was really ‘happening’ in Jazz Age Europe and America look no further.

The book will contain descriptions of all the main cabaret venues in London, Paris, New York, Berlin and elsewhere and detail about the cabaret entertainers who became huge stars. Plus, there are numerous photographs and drawings of the cabaret venues, programmes, adverts and performers in black and white and colour.

In its strict definition, a cabaret is a venue that serves liquor and food and offers a musical entertainment. I have defined the term ‘cabaret’ as a ‘supper entertainment’ staged in a venue other than a theatre. These two words are therefore interchangeable and mean the same thing. The defining feature was that besides serving food and drink and providing an entertainment customers could also dance, indeed it is my argument throughout, that dancing was the key to the 20th century cabaret craze.

There were three clearly defined phases of development. The first phase prior to 1914, saw the emergence of cabaret entertainment in Paris, London and then New York with the emphasis on exhibition dancing duos such as Maurice and Florence Walton and the Castles. The second phase from 1914-1920 witnessed cabaret being virtually extinguished in Europe due to the war but blossoming in New York with the introduction of floor shows or mini revues. Finally, the third phase from 1920-1930 had prohibition closing the old cabarets in New York followed by the opening of new venues mostly run by gangsters. A new breed of dancing duos emerged and cabaret exploded once again Europe.

It is the main consensus of this book that cabaret evolved due to the craze for public dancing, the desire of the public to learn new dances and the emergence of exhibition dancing duos. One of the distinctive features was an extensive transatlantic network that enabled entertainers to perform in a variety of cabaret venues globally. Although most were stars of cabaret and were particularly suited to that environment they also branched out into variety, the legitimate stage and the screen.

This history of a unique form of entertainment, explores its ebbs and flows as it develops into a thriving art form in the 20s.


Title:After Dark: The Origins of Cabaret
Published:Not Yet Published - forthcoming
Author:Gary Chapman
Format: Hardback
Format: Apple e-book (Epub)
Format: Amazon Kindle e-book (Mobi)