In Progress‎ > ‎Nightclubs‎ > ‎

Other Midtown Night Clubs

There were many other midtown nightspots with dancing or entertainment. La Martinique was a popular spot, perhaps a notch below the Copa and Latin Quarter, located in a basement at 57 West 57th Street. It generally booked name talent but newcomers Danny Kaye and Dick Haymes had launched their careers there a couple of years earlier. Like some other clubs it had special events on Sunday nights, generally a slow night for the clubs. An ad for the Sunday Frolics  listed Joey Adams as the host and Rolly Rolls, the Merry Parisian, as the' honored guest in addition to "celebrities of the stage and screen" and the club's new spring revue.   Adams was born Joseph Abramowitz in Brooklyn 35 years earlier. He was only 35 at this time and went on to a long career as a comic and newspaper columnist. Rolly Rolls was a comic pianist in the Victor Borge mold.

According to an ad in the Sunday Mirror Charlie Barnet and his orchestra were headlining at the 400 Restaurant at Fifth Avenue and 43rd Street, appearing with "Marga" and her rhumbas. Barnet was a socialite playboy turned swing band leader who had a string of hits in the late 1930s and early 1940s, most notably "Cherokee." He was one of the first to have an integrated band. Fran Warren was his vocalist at this time. Noted trumpeter Al Killian also was featured in the band. The club featured continuous dancing from 6:30 PM to 3:00 AM. The April 20 New Yorker listed flamboyant drummer Gene Krupa and his band as the attraction later in the week at the 400 Club, same address.

Comic Morey Amsterdam (remembered now for "The Dick Van Dyke Show") was appearing at the Playgoers Club on Avenue of the Americas at 51st Street. He was billed as the star of "Gloom Dodgers" on WHN. Dinner was $1.50 from 6 to 9 PM and there was never a cover, per the ad.

Jazz pianist and composer Mary Lou Williams and the comedian Imogene Coca (later to become famous as Sid Caesar’s wacky TV co-star) were headlining at the Café Society Uptown on East 58th Street. This was a midtown spinoff from the downtown Cafe Society where social satire from a left wing perspective was served up along with jazz.

Tom Ball's China Doll was at 51st and Broadway where La Conga used to be. Chop suey joints were popular then-- even the big nightclubs often had chop suey as the cheapest entree on their menus- and revues featuring Asian showgirls sometimes went along with it. It was sort of a twist on the shows with African American chorus girls, like the then defunct Cotton Club. Many people thought of China and the Chinese in terms of forbidden pleasures and a secret underworld. The club ran an ad in the Sunday Mirror quoting News columnist Ed "Confucius" Sullivan who offensively wrote in fake "Chinee" dialect, "China Doll have slant-sensational show. Broadway ringsiders letting out wolf-calls at stunning Jessie Taising and other China dolls." Asians had to put up with that crap in those days. Oddly some references say the club opened in September 1946 and other say 1947 but this ad was running April 14, 1946. Jessie Tai Sing had appeared in several movies earlier in the Forties. Drug dealing was a problem here as it was in the 52nd Street jazz clubs.

The Versailles, at 151 E. 50th, was “New York's distinguished continental rendezvous.” It had been restyled and redesigned, and at dinner and supper featured Danish actor and nightclub performer Carl Brisson, a popular boulevardier of the 20s and 30s who had introduced the song “Cocktails for Two” on screen with Kitty Carlisle.

At Spivy's Roof , an intimate spot on East 57th Street, the entertainment was continuous from 10 PM. This week The Three Flames and ventriloquist  Jay Marshall were appearing and Spivy appeared nightly singing her "sophisticated" songs. Spivy’s was a hangout for the theater crowd, including Spivy’s celebrity lesbian friends. It was also a hangout for gay men, who were among her biggest fans although Spivy in her cups could be vocally hostile to their presence. It was against the law to serve drinks to gay men or prostitutes and some of the midtwon joints that they patronized had to be careful if they did not want to spark a police raid or lose their license.

Casino Russe, adjoining the Russian Tea Rom on West 56th, offered “superb Russian cuisine” and an all-Russian revue twice nightly and, for a relaxing tete-a-tete, the Bagdad Room was open until 4 AM.

Louis Armstrong was at the Aquarium at 47th Street and Seventh Avenue and Erskine Hawkins and his orchestra were playing at the Lincoln on 8th Avenue at 44th.