‘What to do over the week-end’

Towards an understanding of distraction, advertising and newspaper coverage of the Kansas City jazz scene in the 1930s


  • Anthony J. Bushard University of Nebraska, Lincoln




jazz, Kansas City, Kansas City jazz, race, gender, sexuality, aesthetics, interior design, advertising, media, journalism


In the 1930s, everyday Kansas Citians distracted themselves in numerous ways followingthe work week. But where did one turn to discover the best place to have a goodtime in the Midwest's vice capital? A major source was print media. Like most cities,several newspapers served 'Kaycee', notably the Kansas City Star and the Kansas CityJournal-Post. Relatedly, the Kansas City Call was an important social mechanism forAfrican Americans newly emigrated from the South. What one notices after examiningthese newspapers is: 1) nightclub advertisements bombard readers with vivid sensorydetails designed to promote a venue's opulence and 2) the portrayal of the entertainmentscene differs markedly depending on the source. Applying Ben Highmore's conceptof 'distraction' (Ordinary Lives, 2011), this article argues that 'distraction advertising'paradoxically unifies-through everyday dynamics like race, sexuality, class, and evenfood/drink-each newspaper's depiction of the 'Amusements' section while reinforcingtarget readership demographics.

Author Biography

Anthony J. Bushard, University of Nebraska, Lincoln

Anthony Bushard, PhD, is Associate Professor, Music History and Area Chair, Academic Studies, Glenn Korff School of Music, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, USA.


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How to Cite

Bushard, A. J. (2020). ‘What to do over the week-end’: Towards an understanding of distraction, advertising and newspaper coverage of the Kansas City jazz scene in the 1930s. Jazz Research Journal, 13(1-2), 197–237. https://doi.org/10.1558/jazz.39106