At the other end of the spectrum from the vast stages of The Scala and The Wintergarten was the ‘tingeltangel’.
Often no more than a raised platform in a bar or restaurant, it featured both those at the very start and those at the very end of their cabaret careers.
The scenes featured in the Marlene Dietrich film of 1930 ‘The Blue Angel’ were typical of a tingeltangel, The material would be suggestive and risque and the female performers would often act as ‘hostesses’ mingling with the audience encouraging them to buy drinks and other services on offer.
The name is thought to be derived from the sound of the coins landing on a plate as it is passed around the audience.
A definition of a tingeltangel established by a German court in 1904 is intriguing:
” commercial presentations at a fixed place of operation, consisting of musical performances, especially vocal music, declamations, dances, shorter musicals and similar works, devoid of any higher artistic or scholarly interest, and which are capable through either their content or their manner of presentation, of arousing the lower instincts, in particular the sexual lust of the audience “
* Not to be confused with Friedrich Hollaenders’s Tingel-Tangel club of 1931, of which, more later.
Amusingly for today, the character ‘Sideshow Bob’ from The Simpsons is known in German as ‘Tingeltangel Bob’
(source: Berlin Cabaret by Peter Jelavich)