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The Roaring Twenties

December 31, 2019

So, we are about to enter a new decade. The 20s. I know there are pedants who say that the decade does not really begin until the end of 2020 (because there was no Year 0) but I’m not of their number. It may only be 2019 completed years since the (putative) birth of Christ but we will be saying and writing 2020 and that is what counts.

Anyway it has got me thinking about the 1920s – a decade which I vicariously lived through for a week when we were filming Further Back in Time for Dinner. I remember thinking at the time what a transformational decade it was: by the end of the 1920s most middle-class homes had radio sets and electric light, the roads were full of cars, and aeroplanes were a common sight in the sky. People were listening to jazz, drinking cocktails, dancing in nightclubs. Modernity arrived in the course of a decade. It was nicknamed ‘The Roaring Twenties’ because of its wildness, speed, noise and energy. I don’t know where the term came from or who coined it; but I note that there was already a phrase ‘the Roaring Forties’, which referred not to a decade but to the fortieth degree of latitude in the southern hemisphere, where there are many storms and hurricanes. So it may have been an adaptation of that.

I wonder if we will see similarly profound social change in the 2020s. My prediction is that we will. But will the 2020s have its own nickname? We shall see.

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  1. Simon Carter permalink

    The Eighties is widely understood shorthand but has any decade had a proper nickname since The Swinging Sixties?
    I was at school in Lewisham in the 60’s and the only swinging I recall is of various implements wielded by irate teachers. There may have been free milk but there was an absence of free love.

  2. Craig permalink

    I’m not so sure. Just one of my hobbies is gaming and in that at least we seem to be in a period of diminishing returns. Each new console generation improves on the previous one less so than before.

    I think we are pushing technology so far already that these “roaring 20’s” decades will be a thing of the past. Only my guess.

  3. Mark Brafield permalink

    When the millenium began, there was an irritating trend to refer to the first ten years as ‘the noughties’, when in fact – at least in my experience – they were anything but. I seem to recall that phrase lasted, mercifully, about 3 hours.

  4. I think there will be greater Global movement! It makes sense! Travel will become faster.

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