Roseland Ballroom in July 2007
|Address||239 West 52nd Street|
|Location||Manhattan, New York City|
(concerts promoted by Live Nation)
|Closed||April 7, 2014|
The venue, according to its website, accommodated 3,200 standing (with an additional 300 upstairs), 2,500 for a dance party, between 1,300 and 1,500 in theatre style, 800-1,000 for a sit-down dinner, and 1,500 for a buffet and dancing.
The venue hosted a wide range of events, from a Hillary Clinton birthday party, to annual gay circuit parties, to movie premieres, to musical performances of all genres, including Beyoncé's Elements of 4 show and internet stars Team StarKid's Apocalyptour National Concert Tour. It was also known as the place American singer Fiona Apple broke down during a concert in 2000.
In 1919, to escape Philadelphia's blue laws, Brecker and Yuengling moved the venue to 1658 Broadway at 51st Street in Manhattan, on the second floor of that five-story building, opening on December 31, 1919. It was a "whites only" dance club called the "home of refined dancing", famed for the "society orchestra" groups that played there, starting with Sam Lanin and his Ipana Troubadours.
The all-white, ballroom-dancing atmosphere of the club gradually changed with the ascendance in popularity of hot jazz, as played by African American bands on the New York nightclub scene. Piron's New Orleans Jazz Orchestra played the ballroom in 1924. The Fletcher Henderson band played at Roseland in the 1920s and 1930s. Louis Armstrong, Count Basie (with his "Roseland Shuffle"), and Chick Webb followed with their orchestras. Other major-name bandleaders who played the venue included Vincent Lopez, Harry James, Tommy Dorsey, and Glenn Miller. Many big-band performances were broadcast live from Roseland by radio networks; recordings survive of several NBC broadcasts of 1940, featuring the young Ella Fitzgerald fronting the Chick Webb band.
Brecker popularized marathon dancing until it was banned, staged female prizefights, yo-yo exhibitions, sneezing contests, and dozens of highly publicized jazz weddings with couples who met at the club.
As the club grew older, Brecker attempted to formalize the dancing more by having hostesses dance for 11¢ a dance or $1.50 a half-hour, with tuxedoed bouncers (politely known as "housemen") keeping order. It was to work its way into stories by Ring Lardner, Sherwood Anderson, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and John O'Hara, as well as a Doonesbury (by Garry Trudeau) storyline featuring Alice Schwarzman and Phil Slackmeyer.
The original New York Roseland was torn down in 1956 and it moved to its new venue on West 52nd, a building that Brecker earlier had converted from an ice-skating rink to a roller-skating rink. It had been built in 1922 at a cost of $800,000 by the Iceland ice-skating franchise. A thousand skaters showed up on opening night at the 80-by-200-foot rink on November 29, 1922. Iceland went bankrupt in 1932 and the rink opened as the Gay Blades Ice Rink. Brecker took it over in the 1950s and converted it to roller-skating.
Time magazine described the new Roseland's opening interior as a "purple-and-cerise tentlike décor that creates a definite harem effect." Brecker attempted to maintain its ballroom dancing style, banning rock and roll and disco. In 1974 Brecker told The New York Times, "Cheek-to-cheek dancing, that's what this place is all about."
Brecker sold the building in 1981 to Albert Ginsberg. Under the new owners the Roseland began regularly scheduled "disco nights", which gave rise to a period when it was considered a dangerous venue and neighborhood menace. In 1984, a teenager was shot to death on the dance floor.
In 1990, after Utah tourist Brian Watkins was killed in the subway, four of the eight suspects (members of the FTS gang) were found partying at Roseland. As a result, Roseland discontinued the "disco nights".
Its low-rise three-story structure on top of the quarter-acre dance floor in the middle of midtown Manhattan has stirred concerns over its being torn down for redevelopment. In 1996, a new owner, Laurence Ginsberg, filed plans to tear down the venue and replace it with a 42-story, 459-unit apartment building. A spokesman for Ginsberg said the filing was to "beat a deadline for new, more stringent earthquake codes, which went into effect earlier" in 1996. The interior space has been subsequently renovated.
The site is being developed into a 62-story mixed-use tower.
In November 2013, it was announced that Lady Gaga would headline six shows (March 28, 30, 31 and April 2, 4 and 6), which would be the final performances at the venue. A seventh show was added, held on April 7, 2014, which officially closed the venue. "G.U.Y." was the final song performed at Roseland Ballroom.
When a public dance hall named Roseland opened on Broadway in 1919, smart young people had recently deserted the waltz for the foxtrot, were just beginning to master the delicate nuances of the shimmy. Sam Lanin and his Ipana Troubadours were on the bandstand, thumping out such Ziegfeld Follies hits as "Mandy" and "You Cannot Make Your Shimmy Shake on Tea". Since that distant New Year's Eve, generations of stag-line Romeos and their girls have bunny-hugged, Lindy-hopped, Charlestoned, big-appled, black-bottomed and jitterbugged under Roseland's star-studded ceiling. At 1 o'clock one morning last week the stars winked out for the last time; the following night Roseland reopened in glittering new quarters, billed as 'a magnificent metropolis of melody and merriment.'
A Staten Island teen-ager was fatally shot yesterday morning at the Roseland ballroom in midtown Manhattan, the police said. The victim - Robert Dudley, 18 years old, of 62 Roxbury Street - was shot once in the chest at 3:26 A.M. and was pronounced dead on arrival at St. Clare's Hospital and Medical Center. The police said they had not established a motive for the slaying.