House Rent parties or Skiffles as they were
also known originated in the South with Church socials designed
to raise money. The rent party was refined in Harlem to raise
the funds by way of a cover charge or entrance fee to pay ones rent. By 1932, Harlem's landlord's were
charging newcomers exorbitant rents in their buildings during
the depression and in order to pay these high rents, rent parties
were thrown which was a good cheap excuse to get together and
The rent party was a place
everyone could let loose. Usually the rent party consisted of
a stride pianist, someone's home
or building, Alcohol and
plenty of great home cooked food, such as "Hog Maws, Pickled Pigs
Tails/ Feet, Southern Fried Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, Chitlin's,
Corn Bread, Crab Soup, Red Beans & Rice, and sometimes Chinese
dishes such as Chop Suey (getting hungry as I type this lol). Much alcohol was supplied to these socials at the time.
Dancers would dance in the living rooms to the music supplied
by the Musician(s). These played a major part in the development
in Jazz and Blues Music.
These rent parties were not just thrown to get money, they were highly organized to help someone that was in need, temporarily down on their luck, Old, injured etc., not just someone who squandered their money, thus the community would come to their aid.
Partly where the term "Roll Up The Rug" comes from.