Swing City is an enlightening book that documents the entertainment scene in Newark, New Jersey, from the Jazz Age through the Swing Era and into the bebop years. . . . Kukla has called upon her well-honed skills as a journalist, conducting extensive interviews with . . . practically anyone who could shed light on the heretofore undocumented history of entertainment in Newark.
[Newark] has launched many illustrious entertainment careers, including tho (Black Ethnic Collectibles)
From the Back Cover
When people think of the hottest cities of the Jazz Age and Swing Era, New York, Nashville, New Orleans, Memphis, Kansas City, and Chicago immediately spring to mind. But Newark, New Jersey was just as happening as each of these towns. On any given evening, you could listen to a legendary singer like Sarah Vaughan or laugh at the celebrated comedy of Red Foxx. Newark was a veritable maze of thriving theaters, clubs, and after-hours joints where the sporting folks rambled through the night.
Swing City is based on interviews with musicians, singers, dancers, comedians, bartenders, waitresses, nightclub owners, and their families and is heavily illustrated with rare photographs from the author's personal collection. Barbara J. Kukla covers the vaudeville acts, the musicians who started at Newark's Orpheum Theater and went on to join famous bands, and the teenage dancers who started as chorus girls and eventually toured with famous tap dancers. She also describes the house rent parties of the 1930s, the "colored only" clubs, the entertainment at Newark's 1,000 saloons during Prohibition, and the Coleman Hotel where Billie Holiday often stayed. Throughout the book, which concentrates on performers' lives and personalities, Kukla discusses music and other forms of entertainment as social and economic survival tools in Newark's Third Ward during a time of ruthless segregation.