a speak-easy in the basement

Discussion in 'English Only' started by heidita, Sep 16, 2006.

  1. heidita Banned

    Madrid, Spain
    Germany (German, English, Spanish)
    Yesterday Billy Bob Thornton was on The Show and he spoke about spending a lot of time in the basement of his house, in the "speak-easy". He explained that that could only be found in older houses, where in prohibition days , the people used to gather and drink.

    Anybody of you has a speak-easy in the basement? Would this be easily understood even among younger people?
  2. cirrus

    cirrus Senior Member

    Crug Hywel
    UK English
    I think speak easy is understood by people who know what prohibition was. As for having one in your house now, this would only apply if you lived somewhere where alcohol was illegal. At least that's the way I understand it.

    In London we sometimes have places where people run informal night clubs or late night drinking places that don't have official licences. These are called drinking dens or shebeens.
  3. rsweet

    rsweet Senior Member

    English, North America
    Cirrus has it right. During Prohibition in the US (1920 to 1933), illegal nightclubs where alcohol was served and were called speakeasies. Billy Bob Thornton was making a joke. He was probably talking about a place in his house where he drinks and parties.
  4. mplsray Senior Member

    I would expect even young people to be familiar with the term speakeasy, used for illegal bars during the period of Prohibition. Speakeasies show up in films depicting that period, and they even show up in TV shows: In one episode of The Simpsons, for example, the people of the town of Springfield find that a law concerning the prohibition of alcoholic beverages was never repealed, so that alcohol is still illegal, and as a result, Homer becomes a bootlegger (transporter of illegal alcoholic beverages) and Moe turns his tavern into a speakeasy--the drinking is hidden from the authorities.

    I associate speakeasies with commercial buildings (restaurants, for example) rather than houses. But even if we assume for the sake of argument that most speakeasies during Prohibition were in private houses, I suspect Billy Bob Thornton's use of speakeasy for his basement is a private or family usage.

    While I would not rule out the possibility that speakeasy is currently used for an unlicensed (that is, illegal) bar, I think the term after-hours bar is more common.
  5. mjscott Senior Member

    Pacific Northwest, USA
    American English
    Speakeasy infers a level of freedom to do other things that might be illegal....
  6. heidita Banned

    Madrid, Spain
    Germany (German, English, Spanish)
    How interesting. I thought he actually might live in an old house with a real speakeasy in it. jejeje
  7. mplsray Senior Member

    I found on BillyBobapalooza, Billy Bob Thorton's official Website, that his nickname for the basement of his house is The Cave. When he uses the term speakeasy, it is to say, "The Cave used to be a speakeasy during the Roaring '20s." He also says that the house "was also owned by Cecil B. DeMille, among others." I expect it's a big house, then!
  8. heidita Banned

    Madrid, Spain
    Germany (German, English, Spanish)
    Oh, then it actually was an old house. Yes, he did mention the "cave". Thanks for the link.

    Thank you for all the answers.
  9. janiettt New Member

    I have a speakeasy in my basement, in Boston MA. Some of them are still in existence!

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