What's a Blind Pig?

A blind pig establishment, also known as a speakeasy, illegally stocked spirits for its patrons during Prohibition.

Prohibition was established with the 18th Amendment to the United Stated Constitution and was designed to lower crime and improve the quality of life and productivity for all Americans. During Prohibition, the consumption of any alcohol--even wine during supper at your own home--was illegal. It lasted from 1920-1933 when it was overturned by the 21st Amendment. 

Blind pig establishments were prominent during Prohibition. According to Stanford University Libraries' Riverwalk Jazz program, there were over 100,000 such establishments in New York City alone by 1925. The illegal selling of alcohol, or bootlegging, became a thriving business for organized crime and produced some of the most famous American gangsters, like Al Capone.

“When I sell liquor, it’s called bootlegging; when my patrons serve it on Lake Shore Drive, it’s called hospitality”
— Al Capone

Though bootlegging created a terrible crime issue in the United States at the time, speakeasies became some of the most inclusive establishments in the country. The Civil Rights Movement was still decades away and minorities were largely segregated from the population. Women had just been granted the right to vote but were expected to maintain stereotypical roles at home. During this period, known as the Roaring Twenties,  flappers defied what it meant to be women and African-American musicians created the Jazz Age, and many came together in speakeasies. Men and women of all races could often be found in such places mingling  amid soft, smoky lights and the music of Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong.

According to novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald, during Prohibition, “The parties were bigger…the pace was faster…and the morals were looser.”
— Speakeasies, Flappers & Red Hot Jazz: Music of the Prohibition