The thrill of the disreputable brought hordes of whites to Harlem in the Jazz Age. Laurie Taylor hears how the practice of 'slumming' revolutionised US racial and sexual politics.
'Slumming' was the name given to the thousands of white middle class voyeurs crossing boundaries of race, class and sexual orientation to trip into the worlds of the poor on their dorstep. There they learnt to drop the restraints of respectability and savoured an often salatious sense of sex and discovery in the period of prohibition. The jazz raged, the 'pansies' preened, but after the party what was the effect on the communities they visitied? Laurie talks to the author of Slumming, Chad Heap, and the writer Bonnie Greer about the impact that the wild white adventuring in urban areas had on sexual and racial politics in America.