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.
An explainer of common gang expressions such as "cool" and "pot," from this day in 1958. http://t.co/F7WPHOCR8Z pic.twitter.com/fE4P6Jxfkt— NYT Archives (@NYTArchives) March 24, 2015
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.