Friday, July 9, 2010

I'll Have a Pink Lady with My Prime Rib Please

Every once in a while on Saturday mornings I listen to "The Swingin' Years" radio show with Chuck Cecil who re-broadcasts big band and swing music from the likes of Glenn Miller, The Dorseys, Artie Shaw, and Count Basie, to name a few. Some of these recordings are from performances that took place at nightclubs and supper clubs of the forties and fifties. The performances were recorded and aired on the radio as shows for people listening in at home. Those were the days when couples got all gussied up for a night out on the town. Drinks. Dinner. Dancing. The nightclub or supper club was an all-night destination where you could grab a drink, a bite to eat, and dance a few rounds on the dance floor serenaded by a live orchestra or a big band. Some of the more famous ones were The Mocambo and The Cocoanut Grove in Los Angeles and the Stork Club and the Copacabana in New York City. The food was simple, most of the drinks were gin, rum, brandy or whiskey based, and many places had themes (the "Latin" theme seems to be one of the more popular ones). The most well-known clubs were hot spots for celebrities of the time, and it seems that many of these establishments were formerly speakeasies or prohibition roadhouses. There are still a few places like this around, and some cropping up (in Los Angeles The Cicada Club and First and Hope), so we have at least an inkling as to what this experience was like. I always get nostalgic for these when I watch old movies or I Love Lucy episodes because it just looks so classy and sophisticated - the perfect night out if you ask me. 

The Cocoanut Grove Night Club and Restaurant at the Ambassador Hotel, Los Angeles
(The club opened in 1921 and it was the location of the first Academy Awards ceremonies in 1930; from The USC Digital Library)

The Stork Club, New York City 1944
(Photographer: Alfred Eisenstaedt; LIFE Photo Archive)

Conversations and cocktails at the bar, a nightclub in New York City 1945
(Photographer: Allan Grant; LIFE Photo Archive)


  1. I love vintage and these pics are amazing! Tonight, I'm introducing my children to some I Love Lucy episodes I checked out from the library. They're loving it! So fun!

  2. She never gets old....I watch the same episodes over and over and still laugh out loud. It's comedy at its best. :)