The Back Story: The History of Harlem’s Cotton Club

3 Posted by - January 3, 2023 - ENTERTAINMENT, LATEST POSTS

One of the best speakeasies in Harlem was the Cotton Club, a place that intended to have the look and feel of a luxurious Southern plantation. To complete the theme, only African-American entertainers could perform there, while only white clientele (with few exceptions) were allowed to patronize the establishment. This attracted high-powered celebrity visitors such as Cole Porter, Bing Crosby and Doris Duke to see the most talented black entertainers of the day. Some of the most famous jazz performers of the time – including singer Lena Horne, composer and musician Duke Ellington, and singer Cab Calloway – graced the Cotton Club stage. cotton club 2

Attending clubs in Harlem allowed whites from New York and its surrounding areas to indulge in two taboos simultaneously: to drink, as well as mingle with blacks. Jazz musicians often performed in these clubs, exposing white clientele to what was typically an African-American form of musical entertainment. As jazz hit the mainstream, many members of older generations began associating the raucous behavior of young people of the decade with jazz music. They started referring to the 20s, along with its new dance styles and racy fashions, as “The Jazz Age.”

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    I was curious on where the Cotton Club got its name from. Thanks for answering my questions with such a great article. I knew it had a racist conation to it. All the legends played there, Duke Elligton, Ella Fitzgerald, Satchmo, Lena Horne, etc. Did Josephine Baker perform there? Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, and Ms. Baker are in my relationship goals /self-help book, “7 Types of Queens, Kings Desire.”

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    Jim Martin and Ed Jones, were policy men from Chicago, that were allowed to visit the Cotton Club. They both were self hating Negros.

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