Slow Club

matchbook and cut glass bowlsedition of 2,000
2″ x 1.5″
A fifties era cut glass bowl presented on a pedestal contains a collection of matchbooks; each is light gray and has the logo, title and address of The Slow Club printed on it in maroon. In the interior of the matchbook, printed behind the matches, is the following text:

But she always liked dancing, and would go downtown to a place called “The Slow Club” until it closed. Some of the ladies were older than Peg, but that did not bother her; in fact, she had a few long-term friendships with the ladies.

This text is drawn from the recently written memoirs of my grandmother, and describes the reason her sister never married, despite having several male suitors. The Slow Club, a ballroom dance club, would have offered the cover of a hetero-normative establishment, but during World War II when my great aunt visited it, the number of men in attendance would have been minimal. Discovering this passage was alarming in that it offered insight into a life I had never imagined for my great aunt. Whether her reality actually involved romantic love for other women is unknowable, but the trace of that possibility is present in the lives of so many people that are now otherwise lost to us, and this series of matchbooks makes the intangible aspect of those histories legible. When visitors take a matchbook from the cut glass bowl, and later light those matches, the flame they generate parallels and potentially memorializes the bright and ephemeral flash of the connections that might have originated at a place such as The Slow Club.

gray matchbooks with maroon text piled in a fifties era gold yellow cast glass stemmed bowl
detail of matchbooks in bowl; "The Slow Club" is printed on the front and top surfaces; a line drawing of a classical Greek, wreathed, gender-ambiguous figure is printed over the match striker