A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from December 04, 2004
Lounge Lizards; Tea Hounds; Tango Pirates
"Lounge lizards" and "tea hounds" and "tango pirates" (and "gigolos") infested Broadway about the year 1917. These were men who frequented the tea rooms. They danced with women - first for free, then for some money, then for lots of money.

The name "lounge lizard" is still used (as is "gigolo").

30 May 1915, New York Times, pg. SM16:
TANGO PIRATES INFEST BROADWAY

Afternoon Dances Develop a New Kind Of Parasite
Whose Victims Are the Unguarded Daughters of the Rich.

By Richard Barry.

A NEW villain has appeared on Broadway - the tango pirate. He must not be confused with the old-fashioned white slaver, that mythical demon of the pre-Wilson days who lay in wait for young girls to drag them to their physical and moral ruin.

The tango pirate is a more polished article. He works "within the law." He avoids blackmail, robbery, and seduction. They are crude crimes with which he would not soil his fingers - or his silk gloves - or his vari-colored spats.

4 December 1915, Puck, pg. 20:
Synonyms for lover (third angle of the stage triangle): (1) lounge-lizard; (2) Chopinhead; (3) M. Sen-Sen; (4) Kuppenheimer.

28 March 1917, New York Times, pg. 13:
POLICE TAKE CENSUS
OF "TANGO PIRATES"

18 March 1917, Washington Post, pg. 1:
Miss Murray said that Mrs. Hillair had been passing much of her time in Broadway dancing places, without her husband's knowledge, and that she left her home at 211 Clinton street, Brooklyn, Thursday morning, to meet a man whose name the police have and who she is said to have "picked up" at a Brooklyn theater and later danced with in Broadway "lobster palaces."

"Tango Pirate," Police Believe.

This man is believed to be one of a band of "tango pirates," as the police call them, who have been preying on women of wealth, and those possessing jewelry, and several well-known figures in Broadway afternoon tea and night life may be apprehended before nightfall tomorrow.

16 May 1917, New York Times, pg. 22:
"The people of the Unites States have heard of the bright lights of New York," he continued. "They have seen only the night life through the bleary eyes of the Tenderloin; they have seen the women who revel there and the men who requent the cabarets, and they have heard of the lounge lizards."

19 May 1917, Washington Post, pg. 3:
New York, March 18. - Mrs. Elsie Cavan Hilair, once well known, was lured to her death in the Martinique Hotel by an organized band of jewel thieves, according to information in the hands of the police tonight. The police are working on the theory that a youth about 22 years old, known as a "tango pirate" or "lounge lizard" in the Broadway vernacular, committed the actual murder by strangling her and that he was aided by a large blonde woman.

26 May 1917, Puck, pg. 18:
Mrs. Young was apparently quite aware that she could not possibly picture such an abject specimen of female affection in this stern and monogamistic community, unless she dallied with the "lounge lizard" or the "tea hound," so this thoughtful authorine trotted us out to Salt Lake City, and plunged us into the midst of plural wifehood.

18 November 1920, Chicago Daily Tribune, pg. 17:
GRID ROOTERS
URGE OSTRACISM
FOR "TEA HOUNDS"
Posted by Barry Popik
Workers/People • (0) Comments • Saturday, December 04, 2004 • Permalink