Friday, November 19, 2010

Mae West: West 133rd

MAE WEST enjoyed club-hopping in Harlem during the Prohibition Era. Set on and above 125th Street, her novel The Constant Sinner offers several scenes in nightspots. For instance, fictional clubs were modeled after The Clam House, Connie's Inn, and The Nest.
• • The Immerman brothers, who operated Connie's Inn on West 133rd Street mainly for white tourists and Park Avenue types, put Louis Armstrong at the head of Luis Russell's band in 1928.
• • took a time machine trip to 133rd Street in Harlem during the lawless decade for their City Concealed series, focusing on the early jazz music there. Especially interesting to Mae-mavens would be their visit to The Nest, which was housed in the basement of 169 West 133rd Street, where another successful hang-out had been.
• • According to The Nest, which lies padlocked behind the doors of an abandoned building on a quiet residential block, is arguably one of New York City’s greatest unsung cultural landmarks. The development of jazz as an artistic movement in the city is linked to this spot, which opened on October 18, 1923, in the basement of what was then a barbecue club. In its heyday, during the height of Prohibition, the Nest hosted some of the most popular names in Harlem. It also attracted super star patrons like Mae West. Eventually more speakeasies opened in basements along the same block as the Nest, fostering a culture of clandestine drinking and improvised performance for a mixed audience of black and white club goers alike. ...
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1 comment:

  1. I was walking that block of 133rd street yesterday and was shocked to see that the building that housed The Nest had been torn down. Clearly there is a need to designate this block as an historic district ASAP before any more of it's history is lost!