quinta-feira, 1 de dezembro de 2011

Remember Small's Paradise

Small's Paradise Nightclub, 1940

A long-running Harlem jazz club, closed in 1986

Today's jazz clubs could take some notes from their early predecessors since the bright lights, style and joi de vivre is definitely an element missing (except for maybe Lenox Lounge). Small's Paradise was one of the top ballroom and Jazz clubs of Harlem that provided glamour and music to famous locals and visiting revelers from lower Manhattan. Opened in 1925 by Ed Small during a time of Prohibition, Small's was a sort of hot and heavy speakeasy that downtowners in the know would come to for a night of Jazz, dancing and drink. The club was one of the first to have an open door policy so the crowd also included Harlem's brightest luminaries and faithful locals.

Small's stayed open until 1986 with a brief ownership by Wilt Chamberlain. Nowadays, the Thurgood Marshall Academy has taken over the structure in which the Charleston was once famous. Today, instead of dancing feet, pancakes are being flipped at a house of pancakes that has moved into the street level space of the building. The Small's Building is at 2294 Seventh Avenue/Adam Clayton Powell at 135th Street.

Small‘s Paradise jazz club in Harlem, c. 1928.
Courtesy of the Frank Driggs Collection.

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