Dating and marriage in the 1930s
As Beth Bailey, author of The concept of dating value had nothing to do with the interpersonal experience of a date–whether or not the boy (or girl, for that matter) was fun or charming or brilliant was irrelevant. Having a “good line” meant the young gentleman had to exhibit passion and personality to gain a girl’s attention.Instead the rating looked to others: ‘pass in a crowd’ does not refer to any relationship between the couple, but to public perceptions of success in the popularity competition. must belong to one of the better fraternities, be prominent in activities, have a copious supply of spending money, be well-dressed, ‘smooth’ in manners and appearance, have a ‘good line,’ dance well, and have access to an automobile.” Money seemed to be the dominant feature, and it hasn’t changed much today. The purpose of the “line” was to convince the girl he was madly in love with her.As you’ll recall from A Dating Tradition Worth Bringing Back?, courtship took place in parlor rooms and under parental supervision before the 1920s. But, once dating went public, along with the proliferation of media (radio, magazines, movies, and books), young people heard from others about what was “in.” , “from the late 1930s on, young people knew, down to the percentage point, what their peers throughout the country thought and did.” Perception and appearance became everything.By successfully maintaining this cycle, you became popular.” Competitive dating must have been stressful Some yearned again for the simpler times.
The apparent freedom of dating and its association with out-of-home and paired activities made the new practice seem risqué and daring in the early twentieth century.
Courtship had given way to dating as we discussed in The Invention of Dating.