chapter  4
Pages 15

The cabaret was a curious hybrid of restaurant and theater, where the patrons themselves could participate, at least through dancing. The idea was borrowed from the cabarets of Paris, and lent legitimacy by the connection. Before them there had been palatial restaurants in New York, sometimes with music to accompany dining; but no one who had ever heard the term in those early days would have mistaken restaurants with music for cabarets. Although cabarets were considered bohemian by the standards of the day, because they were “meeting place[s] of the sexes in the eager pursuit of pleasure,” theirs was a very staid, not to say swell and expensive, bohemia.2 Nevertheless, for those who had until recently been part of the reserved Victorian world, they were thought wicked enough. Reisenweber’s, where jazz music was first introduced to the city as another novelty (although it had appeared before without a naughty name), was one of them.