Dreamland Cafe

3520 S. State St.

Also known as Bottom’s Dreamland Cafe, for Bill Bottom who re-opened the venue in 1917, Dreamland Cafe was part of a wave of “black & tan” cabarets that opened in the early 20th century across Bronzeville. Opened on the Stroll on October 7, 1914, Dreamland featured an 800-person-capacity dance floor. Considered the premier site for jazz on the Southside among Black Chicagoans. It featured jazz and blues musicians like Joe “King” Oliver and his Creole Jazz Band, Johnny and Warren “Baby” Dodds, Alberta Hunter, Lil Hardin, Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet, and Cab Calloway. When Bill Bottoms took over ownership in 1917, he hired Joe “King” Oliver and his band to be the house band, stealing them away from DeLuxe Cafe. In 1925-1926, Bottoms featured Louis Armstrong in the Dream Syncopators, securing the Dreamland Cafe’s place at the vanguard of early 20th century jazz in Chicago. Not only did Billy Bottoms hire Black musicians, entertainers, and service workers, he was considered a prominent African American business owner and community leader in the developing Bronzeville neighborhood who helped create a safe space for his Black clientele to socialize. Called “a first class resort owned by a member of the Race” by the Chicago Defender, the Dreamland remains an iconic ballroom.

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