Places that Matter

Roseland Ballroom

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Martha Cooper
Martha Cooper
Martha Cooper
Roseland Ballroom. Elis Shin, 2012
The last of the big ballrooms of New York
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Roseland Ballroom was the people's dance hall. It opened at 1658 Broadway in 1919, in the heart of the theater district at the onset of ballroom dancing's heyday. It was famous as a "dime-a-dance" hall during the Depression, and was a popular big band venue in the 1940s and 1950s. In 1956, the original building was demolished, and Roseland moved to 52nd Street, where it continues to serve as a place of popular entertainment--from big band dancing to "moshing" in the pit by rock music fans.

As of 2004, Roseland is the last of the big ballrooms. It is a vital link to New York City's place in the history of jazz and swing music, and it is central in the collective memory of New Yorkers of all backgrounds, brought together for their love of live music and dancing.

"What a party it was baby. Dancers came from all over the country, and it was a swingin' time--just like the old days. I saw one couple dancing, and I thought, wow, I've got to dance with that girl, she's doing the old-time Lindy Hop. I gave her partner the signal, and when he spun her out, I stepped in and we danced like we were at the Savoy." -- Leroy Griffin (age 76), life-long swing dancer, commenting on Lindy Hop legend Frankie Manning's 80th birthday party at Roseland

"The first time I ever had to dodge an ex who wanted to kill me. The first time a 13-year-old girl ever kicked me in a "mosh pit." The only time I've ever stood next to Evan Dando (of The Lemonheads). All of these things and more happened at: Roseland!" -- Jonathan Lisiecki (age 25) from his statement opposing the proposed demolition of Roseland.

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