[Johnny Hodges playing saxophone at the Savoy Ballroom : black-and-white photoprint.]
Savoy Ballroom (Lenox Avenue, Harlem, New York)
Silver gelatin on paper
1 item, 8" x 10"
The famed Savoy Ballroom, on Lenox Avenue in Harlem, New York, opened in 1926 and closed in 1958. Owned by Moe Gale, a Jewish man, and managed by Charles Buchanan, a black man, the Savoy Ballroom opened its doors on March 12, 1926 right in the middle of Harlem, between 140th and 141st Streets on Lenox Avenue. The vision of the two young men created one of the first racially integrated public places in the country. The ballroom was on the second floor of a two-story building stretching the entire block. The ground floor housed the entrance to the ballroom at the center of the block signified by the marquee extending out over the sidewalk and various stores. The spacious basement checkrooms could serve up to 5,000 patrons. Billed as the "World's finest ballroom," the Savoy was complete with large luxurious carpeted lounges and mirrored walls. The block-long ballroom had two bandstands, colored spotlights and a spring-loaded wooden dance floor. Approximately 700,000 patrons visited the ballroom annually; and the floor had to be completely replaced every three years. The Savoy was appropriately nicknamed "The home of happy feet," and it was also known among the regular patrons as "the Track" for the elongated shape of the dance floor. The staff of 90 permanent employees at the Savoy included musicians, waiters, cashiers, floor attendants, porters and administrative assistants. There were also hostesses with whom a visitor, mostly from downtown, could dance for a dime or be tutored on the latest steps, as well as a team of bouncers clad in black tuxedos and bow ties. The bouncers were ex-boxers, basketball players etc., who would rush in on a moment's notice and put out any person. (Adapted from http://www.savoyplaque.org/about_savoy.htm.)
Duke Ellington Collection, Archives Center, National Museum of American History