Le Boogie Woogie

Inside an After-Hours Club

Terry Williams

Columbia University Press

Le Boogie Woogie

Pub Date: February 2020

ISBN: 9780231177894

304 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $30.00£25.00

Pub Date: February 2020

ISBN: 9780231177887

304 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $90.00£74.00

Pub Date: February 2020

ISBN: 9780231549387

304 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $29.99£25.00

Le Boogie Woogie

Inside an After-Hours Club

Terry Williams

Columbia University Press

The “after-hours club” is a fixture of the African American ghetto. It is a semisecret, unlicensed “spot” where “regulars” and “tourists” mingle with “hustlers” to buy and use drugs long after regular bars are closed and the party has ended for the “squares.” After-hours clubs are found in most cities, but for people outside of their particular milieu, they are formidably difficult to identify and even more difficult to access.

The sociologist Terry Williams returns to the cocaine culture of Harlem in the 1980s and ’90s with an ethnographic account of a club he calls Le Boogie Woogie. He explores the life of a cast of characters that includes regulars and bar workers, dealers and hustlers, following social interaction around the club’s active bar, with its colorful staff and owner and the “sniffers” who patronize it. In so doing, Williams delves into the world of after-hours clubs, exploring their longstanding function in the African American community as neighborhood institutions and places of autonomy for people whom mainstream society grants few spaces of freedom. He contrasts Le Boogie Woogie, which he visited in the 1990s, with a Lower East Side club, dubbed Murphy’s Bar, twenty years later to show how “cool” remains essential to those outside the margins of society even as what it means to be “cool” changes. Le Boogie Woogie is an exceptional ethnographic portrait of an underground culture and its place within a changing city.
Terry Williams has already established himself as a master of gaining access to hard-to-reach, hidden, and vulnerable populations. He has done so again here, giving an in-depth look at a place with which most people will be totally unfamiliar in a vivid and compelling style. Richard E. Ocejo, author of Masters of Craft: Old Jobs in the New Urban Economy
Williams, our twenty-first century griot with an unparalleled deftness for illuminating the most cavernous recesses of our humanity, weaves together exquisite prose, unburdened by self-consciousness or recriminations, pulsating with such delicious expectancy of nights lived reckless but free, tempered by a palpable compassion that renders the foreign familiar and lays bare the beautifully flawed souls buried beneath. Lawanna R. Kimbro, civil rights attorney
An admirable effort to illuminate a hidden world that will be most useful to fellow researchers in the social sciences. Kirkus Reviews
Preface
Introduction
1. The Setting
2. The Scene
3. The Characters
4. After-Hours Now
Conclusion: A Culture of Refusal
Acknowledgments
Appendix 1. Methodological Appendix
Appendix 2. Field Note Samples
Appendix 3. Where Are They Now?
Glossary
Notes
Bibliography
Index

About the Author

Terry Williams is a professor in the Department of Sociology at the New School for Social Research. He is the author or coauthor of many books, including, most recently, The Con Men: Hustling in New York City (Columbia, 2015) and Teenage Suicide Notes: An Ethnography of Self-Harm (Columbia, 2017).