Savoy Ballroom

4733 S. Martin Luther King Dr.

The Savoy Ballroom, now the Lou Rawls Theater Cultural Center, opened on Thanksgiving Eve, November 23, 1927. Originally the venue featured jazz musicians like Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Earl Hines, Stan Kenton, Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald, Gene Krupa, and Woody Herman, but it also hosted boxing, figure skating, and basketball exhibitions featuring the Savoy Big Five, a group that would later change its name to the Harlem Globetrotters. From 1927 until 1940, the venue hosted two bands each night seven days a week. Although most of the Savoy’s patrons were Black, growing numbers of whites visited as well during these years.


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