“Leisure and Entertainment in East St. Louis and Brooklyn from 1945-1990”
I. Basic Thesis
A study of leisure and entertainment in East St. Louis and Brooklyn from 1945-1990. I want to primarily focus on the development of music and music venues during this time, but I will not ignore other areas of art and popular culture. It is my belief that I can show a vibrant leisure economy that was supported by the thriving industrial base that existed in the Metro East area during the post war period, and the disappearance of most of the music scene in East St. Louis and Brooklyn is directly related to the decline in the general economy. Similar to the research of Benjamin Looker, I believe the 1960’s and 1970’s saw a growth of “high art” in the Metro East region that largely was correlated to the growth of African American political consciousn ess. I also feel the growth of high art reflected an increased role in government and foundation support that tended to obscure the relative decline of the industrial base that supported popular culture. In addition to high art and popular culture, “ ;vice”, gambling and erotic entertainment, have always been significant parts of Metro East leisure. Clearly gambling and burlesque/erotic venues have roots going back to the frontier and riverboat days of the region. It is noteworthy that as live music faded in the Metro East, legalized gambling developed into a major revenue generator for East St. Louis, and Exotic Dancing would become a mainstay of the economies of Brooklyn, Washington Park, and Sauget. Interestingly, exotic dancing has only a small presence in East St. Louis itself.