Background of the organization of such house parties was the economic situation of many African-American families in the New York City borough, but also in other cities, such as Chicago. Rents were overpriced despite often occupied dwellings. One way to raise the money for the rent, was rent party (sometimes also house rent party, Rent stomps, Struts, House Hop called ), a term which first came up around 1920. Man saved to create a piano and then put a musician, usually a pianist or a band and invited friends and neighbors to his house. Who came to these parties, had to pay admission - this money was then given to the (or the ) Musicians or this could be " passing the hat " ( and received at least free food ). The host also sold the guests drinks and home-cooked meal.
The Rent Party played an important role in the development of the stride piano style, and (especially in Chicago) of boogie -woogie. Many well-known musicians of the time were in contact with Rent - parties, so the stride pianist Speckled Red, James P. Johnson and Fats Waller and boogie pianist Pete Johnson, Cow Cow Davenport, Meade Lux Lewis. The scene developed very end of the 1910s and early 1920s, so it was for many pianists in this time to a main source of income. Rent parties were often also the venue of so-called cutting contests when Harlem jazz pianist Willie "The Lion" Smith, Johnson, Waller or later, for example, Art Tatum competed to outdo others ( "cutting ").
In Harlem were such Rent parties recognized forms of performance for Jazz music, circulated for the Flyers also with the names of the musicians in advance. Willie the Lion Smith remembers that while over a hundred people in an apartment with seven rooms could come together (and possibly adjoining hallway or even the whole building comprehensive ).
Rent parties were represented in the film The Joint is Jumpin ' (1941 ) with Fats Waller. A number of jazz tracks is named after Rent parties ( such as House Rent Blues by Clarence Williams 1923 House Rent ball from Fletcher Henderson 1924 Rent Party Blues by Duke Ellington 1929).
In 2009, New Yorkers took up the tradition of the Rent Party to raise money for a grave stone of jazz pioneer James P. Johnson.