chapter  3
‘Drivel for dregs’
Perceptions of class, race and gender in British music hall, 1850–1914
ByDavid Huxley, David James
Pages 14

In 1906, W. T. Stead, a pioneer in the burgeoning field of investigative journalism, was persuaded to attend a performance at the London Pavilion Music Hall. He finally sums up the performance as drivel for dregs'. The one act that Stead excused from his vitriolic attack was La Milo', the stage name of the star, Pansy Montague, who posed, painted white, as classical nude' statues. Music hall songs the mainstay of the halls' appeal, along with comedy stemmed from a folk tradition. The problems of retrieving the true' folk song are described in Harker which demonstrates that the concept of authenticity' is highly fluid. The music hall was accidentally complicit in its own decline as most music hall venues began to show films as part of the evening's entertainment from the 1890s onwards. Bioscope' operators, often near the bottom of the bill, showed short documentary films.