The Modern City 1921—1950

We peruse the goods on display in a department store, try on some hats and meet the sales assistant in the exclusive fitting room. Photo: Mattias Ek.

This is when Stockholmers become truly cosmopolitan; they discover jazz, the jive, sales assistants and norm violators.

Stockholm begins to resemble a real metropolis with a business district, tower blocks, neon signs and nightlife. Large department stores attract a female clientele with modern aspirations. Shopping is the new entertainment and all conceivable goods can be purchased under one roof. Exclusive Parisian haute couture is displayed for the very wealthiest, while those with less spending power are catered for elsewhere in the store.

At jazz-inspired venues such as Nalen and Berns, young customers embrace the latest dance crazes — shocking older generations. Women cut their hair short, almost as short as their skirts, or wear long trousers. The new masculine ideal is the dandy, with eye makeup and slender silhouettes.

We mingle with renowned red-carpeteers such as Karl Gerhard, Tutta Rolf och Gösta Ekman Sr. And there we see notary public Fritiof Englund out strolling. He has just moved to Stockholm from Vänersborg and in his diary he sings the praises of his new hometown — and of the many beautiful men he meets there.

We set off into the night to cut a rug and succumb to the city’s nightly temptations.