The Forgotten Story of Japanese-American Zoot Suiters.

There is the constant struggle when running a blog, to create fresh content or form new understandings of times, places, design or culture. However, when you come across articles, such as this one, you realise that the best voice to tell this story is the one you learnt the most from – extremely well written and fascinating to read the ground-level re-counts by the people who were actually there. Well done.

Nikkei Chicago / 日系シカゴ

By ELLEN D. WU

“Young Japanese Hold Dance — Mess hall movies, little theatre activities and jitter-bugging to evacuee bands are popular forms of entertainment at the Tule Lake, California, Japanese relocation center. Here a block dance is in progress. Note the “zoot suit” pants.” Image courtesy of the University of Southern California, Regional History Collection

Sus Kaminaka was a zoot suiter: one of the many young people in 1940s America who embraced a distinctive, working-class urban aesthetic characterized by flamboyant fashions and irreverent comportment. Kaminaka and other hipsters sported pompadours and ducktail haircuts, “drapes” consisting of broad-shouldered, long fingertip coats tapered at the ankles, pleated pegged pants, wide-brimmed hats, and watch fobs. They also loved to party. Jazz, jitterbugging, lindy hopping, drinking, casual sex, and “cool” were just as integral to the lives of zoot suiters as their characteristic dress.

Sus Kaminaka was also a Nisei: a second-generation…

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This entry was published on October 10, 2016 at 2:34 pm and is filed under Blog post. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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