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.

[UK]Foote Lame Lover in Works (1799) II 79: I shall be even with Miss for telling master about and concerning my drums.
[UK]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.

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.
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. 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]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 [Internet] 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. [Internet] 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’ [lyrics] 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. (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.

9. (US) a place, a town.

[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?

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 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]‘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.