The Catholic Worker Movement

Dance Hall Girl Wakes Up In Strange Room After Night Of Carousing in Cabarets

By Dorothy Day

The New Orleans Item Sunday; February 10, 1924 (P. 1)

Here is a story heard at the Roseland, one of the three public dance halls at which the writer was employed for a week. In telling the story, it is better not to give a description of the young girl who told it. For although she told the story herself, laughing the while, she was telling it to her associates, girls who were paid to dance every evening, and perhaps it will look different to her in print.

“Gee, I had some time last night!” This is the way most of these stories begin. “I had a date with His Nibs and I had a date with that little shrimp in the derby hat, who has such an adorable car, and I had a date with this guy I been going regular with who said that he would call for me at twelve o’clock

“And then when twelve o’clock came, I ditched them all. You didn’t happen to see that tall blonde-haired man who came in around eleven o’clock last night, did you? Gosh, he certainly was a darling, and he danced every single dance with me after that. He kept asking me if I liked him a little bit, and I said no I hated him, you know, and he kept asking me to go out with him.

Waited at the Door

“When twelve o’clock came I just ditched all the others and there, sure enough, he was waiting for me outside the door, and we went to get something to eat. He wasn’t no piker, he wasn’t, and we had a swell feed, lobsters and everything. He had a quart of likker with him and before I knew it I was getting woozy. I shouldn’t have been drinking any of it, because the guys had kept slipping me drinks all evening and by the time twelve o’clock came I didn’t know whether I was going or coming.

“But I kept pouring it down me just the same, and this guy kept telling me, ‘Gee, a little girl like you shouldn’t drink so much. You’re pouring it down like water.’ But I kept right on drinking it.

“Then we went out to the Moulin Rouge, and there were only a few girls out there, but there were lots of fellahs and they were all stewed and every time my guy and I would dance, they’d keep jumping up and trying to cut in. There was one of them there who said that he was going to smash up the place unless I danced with him, so I went over to his table, only he was so drunk and he couldn’t dance, so I sat down with him and kept telling him to calm down.

“Cusses Out Everybody”

“And of course the guy I was with kept coming after me and saying I was a cheap sort for jumping tables and all that sort of thing, and he’d drag me back to our table again, me swearing like mad. Every time I get drunk now, I swear all over the place, cussing out everybody.

“I couldn’t see where we were going half the time, but I know we went to lots of places after that and then I don’t know anything more at all until I woke up this morning.

“And gosh, what do you think. I wasn’t home at all—I didn’t know where I was. I was in a perfectly strange room, a great big room furnished with swell bird’s eye maple furniture. I had all my clothes on except my dress and shoes and you can bet I got them on quick.

“When I got out in the hall, I ran into a woman who looked as though she worked around the place, and when I talked to her, she turned out to be the proprietor. I asked her where I was, and she said the __________ Hotel on Baronne street and when I asked her she laughed at me.

Treated Her Swell

“She said, ‘lots of girls come in here and then wake up the next morning and don’t remember how they got here. It’s the bum liquor that does it.’ And she said that she had undressed me the night before and that I had been sick. Gee, she was nice.

“Believe me, I rushed home pretty quick and it’s a good thing for me I’m not living at home, for I wouldn’t know what to tell my mother. Anyway, I thought I’d seen the last of that fellah, but it turns out that I gave him my telephone number and he called me up this afternoon and wants to buy me a new dress because I spilt liquor all over the one I had on. He certainly did treat me swell, like a real gentleman, and I’m going out with him again tonight.”