PROHIBITION, SPEAKEASIES AND A MASSACRE

The Eighteenth Amendment in the United States constitution was passed in late 1919 which saw the prohibition of alcoholic beverages across the country. This was enforced by the Volstead Act which set out the means of enforcement and the prohibition period officially commenced January 16th 1920. Set to last 13 years it ended with the repeal of the Eighteenth Amendment by the Twenty First amendment.

Like all things, if it’s banned people want it more, and the most addictive and dangerous drug known to mankind, alcohol, was set to go underground. When things go underground they attract individuals and organisations that will seek to exploit the unregulated environment. Organised crime moved in.

The Mafia up until this time had been focusing on prostitution, theft and gaming but the potential profits of bootlegging alcohol to a nation determined to continue imbibing was irresistible. All areas from production, distribution and sales were infiltrated and organised crime began a period of increased activity and control.

Amongst the various crime organisations involved tensions would invariably occur sparking turf wars, whacks and rub-outs. The most famous incident, which has been immortalised in film, is the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre in Chicago. Rival gangs from the North Side (Irish-American) and South Side (Italian-American) clashed with the North Side suffering seven victims. The 1967 film, “The Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre’ dramatics events are of course parodied in a scene within the 1959 film ‘Some Like it Hot’.

The speakeasy saw the bringing together of all classes, racial and ethnic groups unseen until that time and even more surprising given that separation and racism was still prevalent in the States at that time. Jazz music thrived and the underground nature of alcohol and the cutting-edge music of the period was intoxicating for many Americans. By the end of 1925 estimates for the number of speakeasies in New York city alone ranged from 30,000 to 100,000.

The Raspberry Cannoli Cabaret is not a speakeasy, blind pig or blind tiger as they were also known, but has references to the past in its roots.

Book tickets for your family and friends at The Raspberry Cannoli Cabaret presented by Mister Jack this May.