[Dixielandjazz] Black and Tans

David Palmquist davidpalmquist at dccnet.com
Fri Feb 28 02:02:43 PST 2003

There are many non-musical, non-American meanings to be taken from the 
expression Black & Tan.  My favourite (other than Ellington's Black and Tan 
Fantasie, the Jabbo Smith version) is the beer concoction known as Black 
and Tan.  It is Guiness poured very slowly over a lighter beer - in Ireland 
probably Bass or Smithwick's, but here in Canada it's just fine over 
Molson's Canadian.  If done right, the darker Guiness floats above the 
lighter beer, and as you drink the beverage, you get both tastes at the 
same time.  It's hard to make if you have Guiness in a can; I use a bent 
spoon and a funnel for the best effect.

The expression also refers to a breed of beagles in Ireland, and to a 
reviled British regiment that served in Ireland around 80 years 
ago.  Finally, there is a record company called Black and Tan, based in the 

David in Delta

At 06:53 29-01-03, Rob McCallum wrote:
>Hello all,
>As to the label "black and tan" as used to describe a night club, I believe
>it originally meant a club where both light and dark black people met.
>Because lighter skin blacks (who often referred to themselves as "people of
>color") quite often thought of themselves as a higher social class (and
>monetarily they usually were in the 1920's), the term may have originally
>had negative connotations.  Over time, it came to be used to mean a place
>where anyone, regardless of skin color, congregated for nightlife.  In
>Harlem, it became a fad for upper and middle class whites to go "slumming"
>in black bars and at rent parties.  In the same way that some of the big
>name Harlem clubs restricted blacks from the audience, some black bars in
>Harlem also restricted whites, however, because so much money was flowing
>Uptown, many establishments welcomed all of the paying customers.
>Whether or not Duke Ellington is referring to a "black and tan" club in the
>title, I couldn't say for sure, but he certainly would have been aware of
>the term "black and tan" in reference to a drinking establishment.  Much ink
>was spilled at that time regarding skin tones and related topics like
>"passing" for white, skin lighteners, hair straightening products etc, and
>what all that represented, especially in writings aimed at black audiences.
>Mulattoes often had the best economic opportunities and even had societies
>much like any other upwardly mobile social class, and immigrants from the
>Caribbean were at the lower end of the social scale, though they had a
>tendency to group together also and not associate with American born blacks
>(in the 1920's).  In Harlem, some of the tenement houses would only accept
>people from the Caribbean, and in many others, people from the Caribbean
>were excluded.  Of course, the irony is that anyone with any
>African-American blood was simply considered black to white society (Mark
>Twain satirizes this situation in his story Pudd'nhead Wilson).
>All the best,
>Rob McCallum
>Dixielandjazz mailing list
>Dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com

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