Storyville: The Naked Dance (1997) - Rotten Tomatoes

Storyville: The Naked Dance (1997)

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This documentary chronicles the notorious red light district in New Orleans, in operation from 1898 until the end of the First World War. Storyville was as unique as New Orleans itself. It was a legal operation, confined to a 16-block area from Basin Street down to the Mississippi River, where sailors and good-time men and women could make all the noise they wanted to, right in the middle of the business district. Part of that noise was the new music called jazz, played by the man who said he invented it: Jelly Roll Morton. Storyville, with its bordellos, where people could have any kind of good time they were willing to pay for, from the highest price to the lowest, was in sharp contrast to the Victorian mores of the country. Such are the recollections of New Orleans own Danny Barker, jazz musician, historian, and raconteur, who played Storyville early in his career. New Orleans councilman Sidney Story tried to have the area closed down, only to end up having, to his chagrin, the whole sinful place named for him. Over 2,000 prostitutes worked the area. Photographer E.J. Bellocq documented the lives of these women, and his amazing photographs are the centerpiece of this film. The rich soundtrack includes street music, ragtime, and jazz by Jelly Roll Morton, Buddy Bolden, Louis Armstrong, and other jazz legends. This is not an everyday American history lesson.

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