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Friday Night Fever Music History

The return of Webster Hall: A tale of debauchery and activism in one of New York’s oldest clubs

The East Village nightclub Webster Hall reopens this evening with a concert by Jay-Z after an extensive interior renovation by new owner Barclays/Bowery Presents. Have tickets to tonight’s show? Then you’ll be able to judge for yourself whether the storied venue retains its “idiosyncratic grandeur.” The hall has had many facelifts over the past 133 years, evolving to mirror the […]

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Film History Friday Night Fever

The film ‘Green Book’ visits the Copacabana, the pillar of New York’s glamorous, volatile nightlife

NOTE: This post features a slight spoiler of an event which occurs in the film’s first five minutes. The period film Green Book — nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture — goes cross-country with pianist Don Shirley (played by Mahershala Ali) and his chauffeur/bodyguard Tony Lip (played by Viggo Mortensen), depicting the varying gradients of class and race relations in […]

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Friday Night Fever

Webster Hall will return: The end of an era for NYC’s oldest party room

When news circulated this week that East Village nightclub Webster Hall would be closing for renovation in August, people understandably freaked out. It seems we’re losing historically significantly places at an alarming rate, places that seem to take a little bit of New York City’s personality with them when they disappear forever. It was announced […]

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Friday Night Fever Podcasts

The tale of the Cotton Club: “The Aristocrat of Harlem”

PODCAST The musical story of the Cotton Club, the most famous (and infamous) nightclub of the Jazz Age. The Cotton Club, Harlem’s most prominent nightclub during the Prohibiton era, delivered some of the greatest music legends of the Jazz Age — Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Fletcher Henderson, Ethel Waters, the Nicolas Brothers.  Some of the most iconic songs in the American […]

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Friday Night Fever

The tale of the Cotton Club: “The Aristocrat of Harlem”

PODCAST The musical story of the Cotton Club, the most famous (and infamous) nightclub of the Jazz Age.   The Cotton Club, Harlem’s most prominent nightclub during the Prohibiton era, delivered some of the greatest music legends of the Jazz Age — Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Fletcher Henderson, Ethel Waters, the Nicolas Brothers.  Some of the most iconic songs […]

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Friday Night Fever

Podcast Rewind: Webster Hall Nights “I’ve Been To A Marvelous Party”

PODCAST REWIND  Webster Hall, as beautifully worn and rough-hewn as it was during its heyday in the 1910s and 20s, disguises a very surprising past. It’s a significant venue in the history of the labor movement, Greenwich Village bohemians, gay and lesbian life, and pop and rock music. The Webster Hall ballroom has hosted the likes […]

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Friday Night Fever

The Slide and the Excise: NYC’s Most Notorious 19th Century Gay Bars

This article originally appeared in the 2015 NYC Pride Guide. You can check out the entire digital issue here or pick up pretty much anywhere in the West Village, Chelsea or Hell’s Kitchen this weekend! Gay and lesbian life in 19th century America meant reading between the lines, latching on to known code words to locate a […]

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Friday Night Fever

The Wildest Era In New York History: My New York Magazine Investigation

New York Magazine produces an annual buffet of New York City history each year called the Yesteryear Issue.  It’s probably the biggest celebration of the city’s past in print and usually corrals some of New York’s finest writers and celebrities.  Last year’s issue featured eight entertainers from New York’s past including Barbra Streisand, Bob Dylan […]

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Friday Night Fever

History in the Making – July 14, 2014: Red Hot Summer Edition

Party time at Leon and Eddie’s nightclub at 33 West 52nd Street, photo from July 1948.  That’s the proprietor himself — Eddie Davis.    The nightlife impresario Toots Shor got his start here as a bouncer. [Library of Congress] Demolition Is Hot Right Now: A disturbing report from the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation of […]

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Friday Night Fever

Recalling the opening of Roseland Ballroom at the start of Prohibition, the ‘phantasmal’ atmosphere, the private dancer

The Roseland Ballroom closes its doors next month on April 7th after a round of Lady Gaga concerts.  The storied big band venue — the ‘world’s foremost ballroom cafe’ — originally opened on December 31, 1919 at 1658 Broadway (at 50th/51st Street).  In the 1950s, it moved to its present location on 52nd Street, a […]

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Friday Night Fever

Remnants of the Bull’s Head Tavern: Could this be the greatest New York archaeological find of the year?

The former Atlantic Gardens, revealed during a demolition. Underneath it lies evidence of an even greater historical discovery. Courtesy Adam Woodward/Lower East Side History Project Big news on the urban archaeological front — remnants of the Colonial-era Bulls Head Tavern may have been discovered during an excavation for a new hotel.  The Bull’s Head was […]

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Friday Night Fever

The Incident at Healy’s: Wild nightlife in Columbus Circle, police brutality and spirited protests against ‘cafe curfew’

Columbus Circle in 1921, looking west. Healy’s was a few blocks north of this scene. Many of New York’s most popular restaurants and cafes a century ago were located around Columbus Circle, lively hot spots that drew in the theater and burlesque patrons well into the late hours.  Crowds would exit the Park Theater and head […]

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Friday Night Fever

Recollections of the Electric Circus: “If you remembered much of what happened, you weren’t really there.”

The interior of the Electric Circus on St. Mark’s Place. Pic courtesy Christian Montone/flickrWARNING The article contains a couple light spoilers about last night’s ‘Mad Men’ on AMC.  If you’re a fan of the show, come back once you’re watched the episode.  But these posts are about a specific element of New York history from […]

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Friday Night Fever

In good company: The local significance of Obama’s inaugural quote: “Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall”

As many others today are ruminating on the symbolic and historic implications of yesterday’s presidential inaugural ceremony, allow me to dwell a little on a curious milestone of far lesser importance. Until yesterday, no place in New York City has ever been mentioned in a presidential inaugural speech.  Not Ellis Island, not the Statue of […]

Categories
Friday Night Fever

In good company: The local significance of Obama’s inaugural quote: “Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall”

As many others today are ruminating on the symbolic and historic implications of yesterday’s presidential inaugural ceremony, allow me to dwell a little on a curious milestone of far lesser importance. Until yesterday, no place in New York City has ever been mentioned in a presidential inaugural speech.  Not Ellis Island, not the Statue of […]