Green’s Dictionary of Slang

drum n.3

[ety. unknown; ? the image of the hollow drum resembling a hollow house or room or the use of drum n.2 as a fig. house for wandering gypsies and tinkers]
(orig. UK Und.)

1. a social gathering, a party.

N. Lancaster Pretty Gentleman 15: [note] Drums, Kettle-Drums, Drum-Majors, Routs, Hurries, Riots, Tumults, and Helter-Skelters, the several Appellations by which the modern Assemblies are aptly characterized and distinguished.
[UK]Foote Lame Lover in Works (1799) II 79: I shall be even with Miss for telling master about and concerning my drums.
[Scot]Estate of Culross Coal Workings 53: It either is, or should be toneish, Scots Coals and Wax Tapers forming two of the indispensably necessary attendants of Drums, Routs, and Squeezes.
[UK]G.J. Whyte-Melville General Bounce (1891) 3: One of those great solemnities which novelists call ‘a rout,’ but which people in real life [...] designate ‘a drum.’.
[UK]Sl. Dict. 151: Drum old slang for a ball or rout; afterwards called a hop.
[UK]M.E. Braddon Mohawks II 235: Dazzling in white satin and white velvet [...] Lady Judith Topsparkle appeared at Lady Townley’s drum, which was an assemblage of all the best people in town.
[US]Fort Worth Gaz. (TX) 1 July 5/6: Mr Paul had done de handshake wid every mug in de drum.
[UK]‘Ramrod’ Nocturnal Meeting 123: When i give a drum or a dance I get in outsiders to help.

2. a casino.

[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 96/1: We left, and next bent our steps to Faulkner’s ‘drum,’ which was then alongside the Alhambra. On giving the pass-word to the porter [...] we were admitted.

3. a saloon, a drinking house, a speakeasy, a nightclub.

[US]Matsell Vocabulum 28: Drum, a drinking-place.
[US]Night Side of N.Y. 34: Pugilistic ‘drums’ [...] in which beetle-browed characters congregate by day and night to [...] discuss topics of the ‘ring’.
[US]G.P. Burnham Memoirs of the US Secret Service 80: Come to the ‘break o’ day drum’ in B--- Street.
[UK]Barman & Barmaid 12 July 3/1: [She] little thinks that the [...] hidden portion of her anatomy is being handed about all the swell drums of the West-end.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 19 June 3/2: He would thou re-enter his ‘drum’ [i.e. public house] and lavishly treat himself to another ‘ thrumsworth’.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 12 Sept. 9/2: It was no wonder then that, on Thursday evening last, a large crowd of enthusiasts fairly rushed the local Thespian ‘drum,’ and appropriated every seat.
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 18 Mar. 2/6: At least once dancing ‘drum’ was found where ‘tanglefoot’ was kept on tap in a zinc bucket.
[Aus]Sydney Sportsman (Surry Hills, NSW) 6 Feb. 1/3: Men who ‘10 minutes’ ago were ‘bottle-o’ merchants [...] For them the language of the ‘drum’ passes muster as cleverness.
[UK]A. Binstead Pitcher in Paradise 120: In this hospitable drum we were ensconced one night.
[US]F. Hutchison Philosophy of Johnny the Gent 91: ‘Well, it’s a bit quiet in the drum’.
[NZ]N.Z. Truth 26 Jan. 6/1: [headline] A Dirty Drum [...] Another den of inquity has just been squashed out of existence.
[US]D. Runyon ‘Votes fer Wimmin’ 20 Sept. [synd. col.] I heard Plunk Peters talkin’ down in Kerry’s drum one night.
[US]D. Hammett ‘The Big Knockover’ Story Omnibus (1966) 278: Larrouy’s — just one drum in a city that had a number.
[US]D. Runyon ‘Broadway Financier’ in Runyon on Broadway (1954) 204: I will not be slaving in Johnny Oakley’s dirty little drum for thirty bobs a week.
[US]D. Runyon Runyon à la Carte 131: Everybody calls her Barbecue since she opens this drum.
[Aus]K. Tennant Joyful Condemned 284: There’s all these little crims in the swi-game and the S.P. betting, the night-clubs, the drums, all getting cheeky.

4. a brothel.

[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc.
[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 59/1: How she came there she could not tell, neither could she obtain any information from the old hag that kept the ‘drum’.
[Aus]Sydney Sl. Dict. (2 edn) 3: Drum - House of ill repute.
[Aus]Dead Bird (Sydney) 22 Feb. 2/3: What a rosy time the soiled doves must have if the drum is run by a ‘thrap,’ but [...] the police never go near a brothel, except on duty — oh, no.
[Aus]Stephens & O’Brien Materials for a Dict. of Aus. Sl. [unpub. ms.] 64: DRUM: a brothel or assignation house; a disorderly house or one devoted to drinking, gambling and debauchery.
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 30 Sept. 5/5: I don't want to shock yer readers / By describing of her drum; / Us koves in the Public Service / Has to keep them there things mum.
[Aus]G.H. Lawson Dict. of Aus. Words And Terms 🌐 DRUM — A brothel.
[Aus]D. Stivens Courtship of Uncle Henry 25: Went off looking for women got a taxi and set off for Mother Dwyer’s drum.
[Aus]Cusack & James Come in Spinner (1960) 273: This place has the rep. for being one of the safest drums in the town.
[Aus] ‘Whisper All Aussie Dict.’ in Kings Cross Whisper (Sydney) xxxiv 4/3: drum: A very poor type of domicile, A brothel.
[Aus](con. 1941) R. Beilby Gunner 266: A couple of my blokes are still in the drums.
[Aus]G. Seal Lingo 45: A cab and drum were terms for a brothel – cab molls, or just molls were those who worked in them.

5. a house, a home.

[UK]Swell’s Night Guide iii: The [...] cracksman, who would screw a drum.
[UK]H. Mayhew Great World of London I 5: Splodger, will you [...] blow your yard of tripe of nosey-me-knacker, while we have a touch of the broads with some other heaps of coke at my drum.
[UK]J. Greenwood Unsentimental Journeys 204: ‘Where shall we go?’ ‘Oh! to the old drum, I suppose.’.
[UK]J. Greenwood Dick Temple II 224: Call it what you like [...] drum, crib, owse, or whichever.
[UK]Illus. Police News 1 Oct. 4/1: They took a stroll towards Kensington-gardens, when Head said, ‘What do yon think of those “drums” there?’ The witness answered that he did not think much of them.
[UK]Clarkson & Richardson Police! 321: A thieves’ abode or rendezvous ... Drum.
[UK]Illus. Police News 15 July 4/2: Why at my old drum I’ve seen a dozen on ’em [...] kicking up the devil’s delight.
[UK]A. Binstead Houndsditch Day by Day 104: He mayn’t live in the middle of St James’s Park [...] but — go and see ‘his little drum, and tell him what you think about it’.
[Aus]Sydney Sportsman (Surry Hills, NSW) 23 jan. 3/6: It’s a story of a gell, as / In a fortune teller’s drum, / Hooked a parson.
[US]A.H. Lewis Boss 32: He said the Dead Rabbit was a drum for crooks!
[UK]‘Doss Chiderdoss’ ‘Happy, Though Worried’ Sporting Times 26 Feb. 1/4: I fear that when I got back to my own domestic drum / I betrayed some symptons of inebriation.
[US]T. Thursday ‘West Goes South’ in Everybody’s Oct. 🌐 We’ll drain this drum when we get damn good and ready.
[UK]J. Curtis Gilt Kid 23: Got a bit of stuff hanging around her drum she has. Red stuff, jewellery, furs and the ready. She keeps the dough under the carpet in her bedroom.
[UK]R. Llewellyn None But the Lonely Heart 295: ‘Doing your drum?’ the greyhaired copper says. [...] ‘They’ll search your house.’.
[UK]‘Charles Raven’ Und. Nights 22: It would have been too dodgy swagging gear into Bella’s drum at 3 a.m.
[UK]J. Sparks Burglar to the Nobility 161: I took a big house in Ewell [...] just the sort of drum I’d screwed in the old days.
[UK]F. Norman Too Many Crooks Spoil the Caper 118: A clapped-out, three-storey drum, with a crumbling balcony.
[UK]Smiley Culture ‘Cockney Translation’ 🎵 Cockney live in a drum while we live in a yard.
[US]‘Jennifer Blowdryer’ Modern English : drum (n): Apartment.
[UK]F. Taylor Auf Wiedersehen Pet Two 94: I was going to live in it when I first bought the drum. I saw myself as a country squire.
[UK]Observer Rev. 22 Aug. 7: The drummers of the title are thieves, drums being the houses they rob.
[UK]Guardian 23 Jan. 6: If they are creeping a ‘drum’ (house), aware that residents are asleep upstairs, they will confine activities to downstairs.
[UK]J.J. Connolly Viva La Madness 32: A huge drum — six bedder, swimming pool, tennis courts.

6. a travelling salesman’s stall.

[UK]C. Hindley Life and Adventures of a Cheap Jack 216: Charley closed his drum up in despair.

7. a prison cell, a prison.

[UK]‘The Jargon of Thieves’ in Derry Jrnl 8 Sept. 6/5: A cell is a ‘drum’.
[UK]Marvel XIV:364 Oct. 15: Ye’ve gotten me again into the infernal drum (roundhouse).
[UK]J. Ware Passing Eng. of the Victorian Era.
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 19 Mar. 12/3: Them officials in the booby, They are glad to see them come; / Any change — it’s all the same sir, / When they gets ’em In that drum.
[US]G. Henderson Keys to Crookdom 403: Drum. A prison cell.
[US]A.J. Pollock Und. Speaks.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
[Ire]B. Behan Scarperer (1966) 78: It looks to me like you geezers, the Scarperer and all, thought that I might take a powder and not pay you on the odds for taking me out of that drum.
[US] (ref. to c.1900) Wentworth & Flexner DAS.
[Can]R. Caron Go-Boy! 46: The Dick would busy himself shaking down the drums for hidden contraband.
[US]Bentley & Corbett Prison Sl. 6: Drum A prison cell. (Archaic: shebang).

8. (US) a place, a town.

[UK]A.E. Durandeau [perf. Charles Godfrey] ‘Giddy Little Curate’ 🎵 With a dashing little chum, from another little drum / Up to town I toddled.
[US]H.C. Witwer Yes Man’s Land 10: Cheez — what a town! [...] wouldn’t this be a great drum to get married and settle down in, Marty?

9. (Aus./US) a room.

[US]K. McGaffey Sorrows of a Show Girl Ch. xx: Honest, I never saw such a drum. A great big room with a real bed instead of those shelve things and off of the room a bath [etc.].
[Aus]R. Aven-Bray Ridgey-Didge Oz Jack Lang 9: She was thinking of her lazy silvery moon, the ducks and geese, and the cost for the use of the drum in the cracker joint she operated from.

10. (US tramp) a safe.

[US]D. Clemmer Prison Community (1940) 331/2: drum, n. An old-fashioned vault with the safe (keyster) within.
[US]Ragen & Finston World’s Toughest Prison 797: drum – A safe.

11. (US prison) a criminal’s hide-out.

[US]Ragen & Finston World’s Toughest Prison 797: drum – A crook’s hangout or den.

In compounds

sporting drum (n.)

a casino.

Sioux City Jrnl (IA) 1 Sept. 8/4: If this business keeps on we’ll soon have a sporting drum every other dlor [...] Who has a poker layout, a faro table and a lot of ‘chips’ to sell?

In phrases

break a drum (v.)

(UK Und.) to burgle a house.

[UK]J. Greenwood Seven Curses of London 87: To commit burglary – crack a case, or break a drum.
[Aus]D.V. Lucas Aus. and Homeward 334: Some of their slang may be interesting [...] burglary is breaking a drum.
speel (on) the drum (v.) [speel v.1 ]

to go off with stolen property.

[UK]H. Brandon ‘Dict. Flash or Cant Lang.’ in ‘Ducange Anglicus’ Vulgar Tongue (1857) 162: To Speel the drum to run away with the stolen property.
[UK]G.W.M. Reynolds Mysteries of London III 71/2: If you should pinch a lob or plan — / A sneezer or a randlesman — / Or work the bulls and couters rum — / Or go the jump and speel the drum.
[UK]‘Ducange Anglicus’ Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. (2nd edn) 223: Speel on the Drum to be off to the country.
[Aus]Melbourne Punch ‘The Lay of the Lags’ 14 Mar. 1/1: So my tulips, shake the shiners, / Speel the drum and fake away.
[UK]Sl. Dict. 303: Speel to run away, make off; ‘speel the drum,’ to go off with stolen property. North.
[Aus]Crowe Aus. Sl. Dict. 78: Speel the Drum, to go with the stolen property.