MJRC - Michigan Jazz Record Collectors - Articles: Vanity Ballroom (Wikipedia | YouTube)

Several weeks ago, Marcia brought home an advertisement for a a lecture to be held at the Scarab Club, across from the Art Institute, sponsored by the Detroit Area Art Deco Society (DAADS). The presentation was about old radios, collecting and repairing them. And since I am somewhat interested in them, I attended.

This was my first exposure to the DAADS. In attendance were a variety of collectors, not just old art deco radio collectors. The audience covered a wide range of collecting interests, from Vogue picture records to the whole gamut of collectibles from the '30s

A few Wednesdays ago, the evening News had an article on the preservation efforts of the DAADS, listing what they considered Metro Detroit's top 5 endangered Art Deco buildings, and number 2 on their list is the Vanity Ballroom which still stands on the east side on Jefferson and Newport.

The ballroom was built in 1929, just before the stock market crash. According to the DAADS, "The Vanity is an example of an architect taking a theme - in this case, Aztec - and adapting it to the Art Deco style".

Focal point of the interior is the 5,000 square foot dance floor which is spring loaded to "give". During its heyday, it hosted up to 2,000 dancers a night at 55 cents each. Entertainment was provided by bands like Cab Calloway and Duke Ellington. Many broadcasts originated from the Vanity. Closed since 1982, the date of its last function, new owners have vowed to re-do the building, beginning with the revitalization of the shops on the ground floor.

On Saturday, May 7, Marcia and I participated in a tour of the building which is still in fairly decent shape. The floor, having suffered some water damage from the leaking roof is slightly warped. One of the four large chandeliers has succumbed to water damage from the roof, and is missing.

In the fifties, we remembered dancing at the Vanity. Hopefully, the new owners can do something with the building - it's the last remaining ballroom in Detroit with any chance of renovation.

Ron Pikielek

Michigan Jazz Record Collectors

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