Remember when "jitterbug" meant get in a fight? No? You probably weren't in a gang in 1958.
The indispensable NYT Archives Twitter account, which you should all follow, dug up a New York Times article from 57 years ago explaining "expressions commonly used by New York's teenage gangs." It's pretty great.
Some of the best samples include:
- Bopping club, which the Times said referred to a fighting gang.
- Diddly bop, a thing actual people allegedly called someone who was good at fighting.
- Sneaky Pete, or cheapo wine.
- Debs, which referred to — and this is a direct quote from the Times — "girl affiliates of gang boys."
- Go read the whole list, available at the New York Times. The 1950s were a hell of a time.