Inside a 1920s Chorus Girls Dressing Room – by a Chorus Girl in 1926.
Many famous actresses started their professional careers as dancers in a chorus line
including Marlene Dietrich, Ginger Rogers,Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, Barbara Stanwyck,Paulette Goddard,Bette Davis, Joan Crawford,Marion Davies,Shirley MacLaine,Rita Hayworth,Louise Brooks,Joan Blondell, Betty Grable – the list goes on.
The best known chorus dancing troupes were the Tiller Girls, The Rockettes, [ still active ], The Ziegfeld girls, and The Gaiety Girls, as well as The Hoffman Girls.
The following article was found in the 1920s periodical ‘The Competitors Journal‘
Inside a 1920s Chorus Girls dressing room + Paris-Chorus-Girls-1913
Twenty five girls in one dressing room! A crowded, jolly life? I don’t think – with all the girls rushing in at the last minute, you treading on Mollys corns, Dolly barging into you, and somebody else bagging your make-up. If only stage struck flappers would realize that the romance of it isn’t found in the chorus girls dressing room.
These rooms are often not big enough for us all. Sometimes they are badly lit and quite often they are a long long way from the stage, and involving a precarious negotiation of the hotel kitchen.We chorus girls of today are as prosaic and businesslike as any typist tapping away in her city office.
It is all just business. We dress and undress, makeup, warble and kick nightly with one thought in our minds – and that is Friday, when ” the Ghost Walks,” which in our other words means ‘pay day’.
And the rules! We mustn’t do this and we mustn’t do that. Visitors are seldom allowed, and when they are they must not be of the opposite sex!
You see – we’re good little chorus girls today, even if the atmosphere is sometimes ‘blue’ with the girls stories we tell. Stories that would make even hardened club men pretend deafness. but if you were born for the stage and can’t keep away from it, then you will love it. The gaiety, the working at night, and the odd meals all get a hold on you. Chorus work makes you awfully hungry, and so we are always eating. not always chocolates and cakes mind you; but great chunks of bread. Big thick slices of bread are frightfully good, especially when eaten with pickles. There is always a cup knocking about, and we send the dresser out to fill it with pickled onions. And there we sit in the dressing room, some of us in stage dresses, some in wrappers, and some in – well, very little, digging out these onions with orange sticks and munching away between acts. So no chorus girl would be very pleasant to kiss during an average evening on stage. Everyone is chattering at the same time. The dressing room just hums with our chatter. of course our talk is nearly always about clothes.
Clothes mean so much to us. You see, getting a job depends on how we look, and what fashion sense we have. the moment you walk in to an audition, the eyes are on the shoes, the fringe of your skirt, the line of your jacket, the quality of your stockings. Hairstyle is another major topic. At the moment, the new Hollywood bobs are all the rage and most of my friends have had the big chop. I personally prefer a nice crop with a bit of curl to play with.
Makeup is always being nicked from your bag. It’s not that chorus girls are dishonest, its just that we share everything, lipsticks, shadows and mascaras. not very hygienic, but we have to slap so much of the stuff on that its impossible to afford the cost of keeping your cosmetic bag full.
Training is hard, and commences every day at noon.
Then a break at 4pm for food, and then an hour to wander – usually to the nearest clothes store for an ogle sadly at the latest unaffordable Paris dress. The best thing is the comradery. You will make lifelong friends in this business, and I personally can vouch that many famous actresses pop in to shoot the breeze with the girls and swap stories with us of their own days as a chorus girl.
It is encouraging that some of us might be lucky and end up with a stage career, but the job is fulfilling – hard, but fulfilling. So if you’re planning on a career like mine, dust down your dancing frock, fix your hair and makeup, adopt an attitude and head for your nearest agent. It might change your life!
One more post here – The-Follies-Sisters—Retro-Chorus-girl-tribute-act