Streams

Owa Tagoo Siam! Good Clean Fun in Harlem, 1946

Tuesday, September 18, 2012 - 01:00 PM

WNYC
Grover Whalen and the Savoy Lindy Hoppers, ca. 1940. Grover Whalen and the Savoy Lindy Hoppers, ca. 1940. (New York Public Library)

Harlem Hospitality Club is an audience participation and variety show by and for African Americans. 

In this recording, audience members offer bashful replies when plucked out of the audience by the fast talking host, Willie Bryan.  A young girl reluctantly shares that she likes “hip boys” rather than squares, and that she “cuts a rug” every night at friends’ houses.  Later, Bryan urges two ladies from the audience to pick a “dream man of the afternoon,” causing the unsuspecting man with “nice eyes and smile” to put his hand over his face while enduring teasing from the host and women.

Recorded at the landmark Savoy Ballroom in Harlem, this show recalls the high-paced energy of the institution before it was closed in 1958.  According to The New York Times:

The ballroom, in its heyday, could accommodate 4,000 people. It was big enough for two big bands to play side by side, taking fire from each other.  And it was big enough for the people who stared firmly on the floor not to bump into the people who danced the steps that began from basic jujitsu and went on to what the historians call "back flip, over the head and snatch."


Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives.

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In September 2010, WNYC's Archives and Preservation Department initiated a two-year archival digitization project funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Its goal is to reformat 660 hours of choice recordings from the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC collection found on lacquer disc and open reel tape.

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