Florence Jones 1922
Florence Emery (or Embry) Jones
b 1892 Bridgeport CT
Married to jazz pianist, Palmer Jones
died in New York in January 1932
Florence Jones was the first African-American woman to rule the Paris jazz world in the 1920s. She preceded both Ada "Bricktop" Smith and Josephine Baker in that regard. Her fame was built less on her singing and dancing than on her ability to amuse and captivate the crowds at the clubs where she held sway. First at Eugene Bullard's, Le Grand Duc, and later at Louis Mitchells cub across the Rue Pigale, Florence kept the late crowd dancing throughout the night. Mitchell soon renamed his club, Chez Florence, in her honor. She was known for snubbing all but the most illustrious of guests, and making her victims love her all the more for it.
Monday, Jun. 20, 1927
"Ivory-white, lipstick-red, and a suave, tawny brown are the colors of Florence Jones. These were colors good enough for smart, expatriate Americans of both hemispheres who discovered "Florence" making excellent waffles in the Rue Pigale some four years ago. Her waffles became a fad, and so many rich waffle eaters washed the golden morsels down with amber champagne that, today, Florence Jones te more purseful than many of her clients. The fact that this handsome Negress, genuinely from Harlem, keeps the smartest boite de nuit* in Paris, was evident again last week, when His Royal Highness, 27-year-old Prince Henry of Britain, strolled into Chez Florence, atop Montmartre, at 3 a. m., with a highly unofficial entourage.
Habituéés, such as the Princess Murat, and Sem, famed cartoonist, were unsurprised. What if the third son of George V had come in? They recalled how once the King-Emperor's eldest son, on a memorable visit to Chez Florence, called across to her:
"Hey, Florence! How many poules do you know in Montmartre?"
Replied Florence: "Poules ? 'chickens,' your Royal Highness?" Then, dropping into Harlemese, as she seldom does, Miss Jones addressed the crowd, pointing at Edward of Wales: "Poules! He as' me 'bout poules! Hey-ho! Haah! Jus' look who's askin'!"
Edward, fairly caught, laughed among the first; and since then Miss Jones has been an all-licensed Negress. Nightly she coaxes or drags celebrities out on her jazz floor, makes them perform, makes them ridiculous to their own intense delight—for the crowd are all clannishly impersonal and good-humored. Therefore, last week Prince Henry was not irked when Miss Jones sought to draft him as a contestant in an impromptu black bottom contest.
Florence's chic ankles twinkled toward him. Her figure is svelte, lithe—though she does not dance—her voice sultry, a blues voice. At a curt nod from her the huge, perspiring black who is Miss Jones' husband snapped his hot-time jazz baton. Prince Henry hesitated, then rose, followed Florence out on the floor and black-bottomed.
"Hey! Hey!" she cried. "Give the little boy a hand! Hey! Hey!"
Then to pace His Royal Highness at black bottoming, she called up from the crowd Nora Bayes, Georges Carpentier and Florence Walton.*
"Hey! Hey! Shake that thing!"
To some present it seemed that Nora Bayes black bottomed better than Prince Henry; but when the moment of judging came they "gave the little boy a hand." Florence, stamping her small right foot for quiet, awarded to His Royal Highness the first prize, held it aloft before the crowd, explained in mock Negro dialect: "Dis y'ere fust prize am an ostrich feddah suit o' cat's pajamas!""