The last of the big ballrooms of New York
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...
One of the largest ballrooms in New York City, this beautifully decorated venue became the center for hot music and jazz dancing in the downtown area. Early on it engaged black bands (for an exclusively white clientele), unlike most of the other downtown venues, and all the major swing bands of the 1920s-40s performed there. The original ballroom closed in 1956 and an even larger one opened the same year under the name Roseland Dance City.
This is the last great party room in the city that is still accessible to a wide range of classes and interests. We should all be thankful she has, so far, survived. But if New York allows Roseland to fall--with her rich history and eclectic energy--it will be one of those things that future historians will look back on and say, "What the hell were they thinking?"