A rent party
(sometimes called a house party
) is a social occasion where tenants hire a musician or band to play and pass the hat to raise money to pay their rent, originating in Harlem during the 1920s. The rent party played a major role in the development of jazz and blues music. The Oxford English Dictionary
states that the term skiffle
means "rent party", indicating the informality of the occasion. Thus, the word became associated with informal music. However, many notable jazz musicians are associated with rent parties, including pianists Speckled Red
, James P. Johnson
and Fats Waller
, although rent parties also featured bands
as well. The OED
also gives boogie
as a term for rent party.
Rent parties were often the location of so-called cutting contests, which involves jazz pianists taking turns at the piano, attempting to out-do each other.