Ask Answers: Were the 1920s Really That Roaring?

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If you’ve ever seen movies like The Great Gatsby (2013), The Artist (2011) or Chicago (2002), it’s easy to think of the 1920s as one big party. All the night owls of the era frequently indulged in music, dancing and illegal cocktails with the flappers, shebas and bearcats until the sun came up — or did they? Were the 1920s really all that roaring?

Yes, there was an economic boom and a cultural revolution boosted by the invention of some major technologies. However, not everyone had the money to throw Gatsby-level ragers all the time. More than 100 years after the start of a tumultuous decade, people are still fascinated by the colorful reputation of the Roaring 20s. Is that fascination justified? Now that we're enduring a different type of Roaring 20s — but one that's still marked by a pandemic and an uncertain economy — let’s take a look back and see just how wild American lives really were a century ago.