Historically, post-war generations are often defined by their excesses, as in the case of the so-called Roaring Twenties following World War I and the Baby Boom era following World War II. In the case of the Roaring Twenties, otherwise known as the Lost Generation, the sudden influx of new consumer goods combined with a white-hot economy led many young Americans to indulge in a distinctly hedonistic lifestyle. Part of that lifestyle for stylish young women was the introduction of form-fitting short dresses with multiple layers called "flapper dresses." This image of an uninhibited young woman dancing with abandon at a speakeasy nightclub would further define the Roaring Twenties as the Flapper Era.
The Flapper Era grew out of a time of great uncertainty for the younger generation, which had seen the devastating effects of a "war to end all wars". Many felt disenchanted by the strict social norms which had shaped their early lives, while others felt rudderless and abandoned. In an effort to define their own generation, many young people coming of age during the 1920s decided to abandon the stifling moral codes of their predecessors and indulge in a far more self-absorbed, hedonistic way of life.
The Roaring 20s really roared in illicit nightclubs which featured live jazz music, illegal bathtub gin, and young patrons who knew how to take full advantage of it all. The flappers would literally dance and drink until they collapsed, driven by the relentlessly upbeat rhythm of the jazz bands. Patrons of these nightclubs would often stay all night, or find other after-hours venues to continue their celebrations. The Flapper Era was largely about living in the present, since there was clearly no guarantee of a future in a world where large-scale deaths from war were now possible. In a sense, the Flapper Era was dancing as fast as it could as a type of social coping mechanism.
The idea of beautiful young actresses and socialites jetting from lavish party to lavish party did not start with Paris Hilton or Lindsay Lohan. During the Flapper Era, notable starlets such as Clara Bow would routinely spend their free time in dance halls and nightclubs. Other famous silent film stars would also participate in or even sponsor their own hedonistic parties. The Flapper Era seemed to belong exclusively to those under the age of 30, but the devastating 1929 crash on Wall Street and the resulting Great Depression forced those of the Lost Generation to face a much more challenging reality during the 1930s.