Toll Gate Dance Hall

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View of a mixed crowd in a busy dance hall, showing couples dancing while others stand watching
Toll gate dance hall.

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Cleveland Museum of Art

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Description

View of a mixed crowd of workers, rogues, and prostitutes—plus a conspicuous soldier standing tall—in a busy dance hall, showing couples dancing while others stand watching from the side or sit at tables at the back.

Nineteenth-century toll gate inns and dance halls were a manner of duty-free places located in strategic spots around Paris, where the tax on goods entering the city had not yet been applied. Food and alcohol were therefore cheaper, although of an often mediocre quality, and the gentler prices, along with some shady activity, such as smuggling, drew to these places people from all walks of life, including the occasional upper-class party come for the thrill.

The caption reads in the original French: Bal de barrière.

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