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Rent Party

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House Rent Party Photo

   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 socialize.

   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.


Birth Place

Creation Date


Dance Type

the South 1900's Church Socials function

Posters, Lobby Cards etc.

Sheet Music Covers

Free Sample

Music Titles

Boarding House Blues n/a Free Sample 1930s - Raisin' the Rent (by Ellington)  
House Rent Party       Free Sample 1946? - Mama's Got To Get The Rent  
$ Rent Party by Frank Morrison       Free Sample Beesknees  
            Free Sample Chicago House Rent Party Blues (slim) CD
            Free Sample House Rent Party (by Peter Case) mp3
            House Rent Party Album (by Sunnyland Slim) mp3
            Free Sample House Rent Party (by Champion Jack Dupre) CD
            Free Sample House Rockin' Party (by Gary Primich) CD
            Free Sample House Party Tonight by Amos Milburn CD
            Free Sample Rent Party (by Hal Singer) mp3
            Free Sample Rent Party Blues (by Ellington)  

Night Clubs



n/a n/a n/a



Ballets / Stage

1933 - Mill's Blue Rhythm Band n/a 1929 - Harlem!
1935 - The Life Of The Party        
1936 - Dancing Feet        
1946 - House Rent Party      


Mississippi Delta Blues       6/22/46 - New Amsterdam News
        1983 - Showtime at the Apollo
        1998 - African American Films
        $2001 - Rent Party Jazz (Fiction) (Miller)

Other Related Dances of the time...

Breakaway Lindy Hop Shim Sham Shimmy Slow Drag n/a
Jitterbug Mooch and Sugar Texas Tommy    

Dancers, Choreographers etc.


Most African-American dancers of the times n/a n/a

Books, Magazine Articles on the dance...

Title Author Date Published Publisher
Negroes Support Dance-Hall Policy
("Rent Parties" as Occasions for "All Manner of Debauchery.") 6/21/1926 (pg.5) N.Y. Times Newspaper
$ Rent Party Jazz William Miller 2001 Lee & Low Books
$ Harlem Renaissance: Rent Party, Harlem Renaissance Marita Bonner, Henry Bannarn 2010 Books LLC



Poets / Writers

Clarence "Pinetop" Smith n/a n/a
Fats Waller (1904-1943)      
James P. Johnson (1891-1955)      
Jimmy Yancey (& Mamma)        
Memphis Slim        
Speckled Red        

Misc. Research Words that may be related ... to help your searches

Boogie Blues Bands Blue Monday Party
Skiffle Jazz Pianist / Piano Chitterlings Rags
House Hop House Shout Parlor Social  


February 17, 2013

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