Monday, May 2, 2011


Alex at Flaming Pablum recently posted a link to a bunch of photos of "Old School New York." In that bunch were a few rare, full-color views of vanished Times Square dime-a-dance joints.

Above the Whelan's drugstore, next to the RKO Palace, the Parisian Danceland, which I wrote about here, is seen mostly in blue with its painted dancing girls in color behind the windows.

That little building was demolished and replaced with a Double-Tree hotel.

This shot of the Orpheum Dance Palace is a rarer one. You just never see it in photos, but there it is, sitting atop Child's, which would later become the Howard Johnson's of poor, demolished 1551 Broadway. And where the Orpheum used to be, later came the Gaiety.

This dance palace had been going strong since 1917. Henry Miller was a regular customer.

Lastly, the photos turned up another Dime-a-Dance joint, this one at 48th and Broadway. The Tango Palace promises "beautiful girls to dance with" above the McGinnis of Sheepshead Bay, known for its roast beef.

While dancing, could you smell the roasting beef below? Today, where all that exuberant neon used to be, there's nothing but the glass box of the Morgan Stanley Building.

A 1970 Village Voice article took readers inside the Tango Palace, and it's quite a wonderful piece. Read it all here. An excerpt:

"Upstairs, the scene is the rim of a store-bought decadent nightmare. You're announced by a buzzer that opens the door, and inside a bevy of painted beauties sit in a horseshoe-shaped vinyl pit, legs crossed, toe-exposing spike-heeled slippers flopping in unison, keeping time with Artie Shaw, one of the Dorseys or Glenn Miller playing a moonlight serenade. A spinning mirrored ball plays irregular spots of light across their faces, and you can see that they're smiling, just like the dime-a-dance girls in the showcase downstairs. Only now those smiles cost $7.50 a half hour."


Marty Wombacher said...

Nice post and great story from the Village Voice! Dime-A-Dance romance!

TheXmanCometh said...

The Tango Palace is heavily featured in season 2, episode 17 of Naked City. The episode is titled "Shoes For Vinnie Winford" and there is some interior footage.