Today, it’s a question of whether your pants are sagging or not (as far as I’m concerned).
In the Sixties, on the South and West Sides of Chicago, the male clothing signifier was whether you were a Gouster or an Ivy Leaguer.
A former co-worker who I guess would be classified as a Gouster now, but was an Ivy Leaguer then, told me:
Basically, Gousters dressed like old school gangsters (by this he meant O.O.G., like Thirties-Forties-Fifties era), and Ivy Leaguers dressed preppy. Gousters were considered to be kinda like hoods, whereas Ivy Leaguers at least looked like they kept their noses clean (for a pretty accurate visual, watch Cooley High. Preach [Glynn Turman’s character] would have been considered an Ivy Leaguer. Many of the other cats were classic Gousters).
This conversation started when I un-covered a record from about 1964 called “The Gouster” by a local group called the Five-Du Tones.
I found a really nice blog post from Wild-Child where she waxes poetic about the styles:
“I recently encountered an old friend who lived in the neighborhood back in the day. He lived on 35th Street and I lived on 31st. We were from the same neighborhood and attended the same high school. He was the coolest guy in history. Not only was he fine, he could DANCE. His fashion identity was Gouster style. I can still smell the Jade East.
Dancing Lesson: Jamaican Import circa 1964
thanks to Mr. Catano for the headsup on this video….
At the bottom of this post, Tony Verity breaks down ska dancing (quite anthropologically, I might add). Byron Lee and the Dragonaires play backup. Plays out a bit like the movie Hairspray, only with a Jamaican twist (the original, of course…John Waters kept it gritty, yet sufficiently camp). What’s Ricki Lake up to these days?
Funny thing, for an era that spawned so many dances (the mashed potato, the madison, the slop, the philly dog, the shing-a-ling, the pony, the jerk, et al), few have such detailed documentation. Anybody out there remember “The Gouster” (a Chicago flash-in-the-pan dance committed to wax by local group the 5 Duotones)?
1 Comment | tags: 5 Duotones, Byron Lee and the Dragonaires, dance, dance crazes, Hairspray, Jamaican, Jamaican Ska, John Waters, Ricki Lake, the gouster | posted in Arts & Culture, Commentary, Dance, Jive Culture, Music