You know the kind of places I mean? A nightspot like the ones that were popular from the 30s to the 60s where grownups went out for a night of fine dining and dancing. Places where you could hear great jazz or big band music or the latest national singing sensation. Places where you had to get dressed up or they wouldn’t let you in!
I was thinking about this just the other night. My husband and I went out to see a jazz band at a local club that served food and had a small dance floor. But that’s where the resemblance to an honest to goodness “old school” supper club ended. The place was nice enough. Far from a dive. But many people wandered in dressed in flip flops, tank tops and shorts. I know, I know. Everyone has a right to dress however they like. I get it. But part of my enjoyment of a place is the ambience. And the attire of the patrons has a lot to do with that. I’m so used to seeing ultra casual attire everywhere I go, that it would be nice change to go somewhere where people put more effort into their outfits. And seeing them in vintage outfits would be a total bonus!
I can dream can’t I? So, aside from world peace (who doesn’t want that?), one of my fondest wishes is a world where traditional supper clubs are the norm. So far I’ve only visited one once in my life. I actually got to see Big Bad Voodoo Daddy perform in a beautiful supper club outside of Portland Maine. Not only did I get to have a lovely dinner while wearing a fabulous 50 dress, but I also got to dance to one of my favorite swing bands! It was one of the highlights of my entire life. Unfortunately the venue has since turned into a function facility. So I’ve been searching for something similar ever since.
Here’s what it looks like.
Don’t you think they should bring the supper club thing back? This place is perfect for it.
Maybe I’ll write them a letter begging and pleading.
You often see a very lavish rendition of a supper club in the classic movies starring Fred Astaire, with opulent sets and glamorous actors and actors having a grand ol’ time.
And many of those movie stars actually frequented the real supper clubs of the day, like the Stork Club, Ciro’s, Cocoanut Grove, Copacabana and El Morrocco.
But, there were also plenty of lesser known supper clubs all across the country where ordinary folks got to dress to the nines, have a nice meal and then dance it off to some sultry torch singer backed by a big band orchestra. And, of course, it was the era of serious cocktails. A night out at the supper club meant knocking back a few Manhattans, Sidecars, Martinis, Old Fashioneds, Rusty Nails or G&T’s.
But those traditional supper clubs started to die out in the 1960s. Nowadays there are places that call themselves a “supper club”, but they are not the same. They are either a restaurant, with no live music and dancing, or have a DJ! Seriously? These clubs are geared toward 20s somethings who are definitely not interested in the iconic supper club experience.
And that is the type of supper club I fantasize about visiting.
See this photo? This is my Mom and Dad at the Frolics Supper Club on Salisbury Beach, Ma. It was taken in the 1950s and I discovered it going through my Mom’s things after she passed away. It is, without a doubt, my favorite picture of my parents. Yep, Bob and Maryanne had just started dating back then. Dad took her out to the Frolics for a big night on the town. I asked my Dad who they went to see that night, because all kinds of famous people performed there, including Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Patti Page and The McGuire Sisters and many more. Except he couldn’t remember! And now he’s gone, too. So it will remain a mystery. But, I cherish this great visual memory of my folks at the type of place I so long to visit.
And when they took your picture there, they put it inside one of these. Aren’t the graphics cool!
Here’s a postcard of the Frolics at night.
And when I was a child I remember my Mom getting all glammed up to go to Blinstrub’s, a famous Supper Club in Boston.
Here are some other images that illustrate the golden era of the swanky supper club.
The Rainbow Room, NYC-1930s
Look at this guy! A white jacket and a bow tie. When was the last time you saw that when you went out?
Dancers at the Patio Restaurant and Nightclub, Palm Beach.-1950s
So my mission is to locate and visit as many classic supper clubs as I can find before I’m too old and decrepit to dance!
A friend of mine suggested the Cicada Club in LA. So it is on my bucket list!
Does anyone know of any others around the country? Would you go to a place like this if there was one in your area?
Have a glamorous day!