The Savoy Ballroom

by futurespastchicago

The Savoy Ballroom. (Image Credit: Chuckman's Collection, Chicago Postcards Vol. 7.)

“Never before have Chicagoans seen anything quite as lavish as the Savoy ballroom. Famous artists have transformed the building into a veritable paradise, each section more beautiful than the other. The feeling of luxury and comfort one gets upon entering is quite ideal and homelike, and the desire to stay and dance and look on is generated with each moment of your visit. Every modern convenience is provided. In addition to a house physician and a professional nurse for illness or accident, there is an ideal lounging room for ladies and gentlemen, luxuriously furnished, a boudoir room for milady’s makeup convenience, an ultra modern checking room which accommodates 6,000 hats and cotas individually hung so that if one comes in with his or her coat crushed or wrinkled it is in better condition when leaving.” – Chicago Defender, 1927

A hard act to follow. 

Everyday for thirteen years music from two bands could be heard coming from the Savoy Ballroom since its opening on November 23, 1927 on the southeast corner of South Parkway. I. Jay Faggen was the key promoter, bringing the wealth of his experience from New York ballrooms including Harlem’s Savoy Ballroom. The Gala Ball for the Savoy’s Thanksgiving opening attracted hundreds of community leaders, theater celebrities, star musicians, and their Chicago fan base. To help celebrate the grand opening, Sammy Stewart, Charles Elgar, Clarence Black and their orchestras performed along with famous comedians Moss and Frye. In addition to its life as a presenting venue, the building served as a roller skating rink, boxing arena and basketball court for the Savoy Big Five. The ballroom also housed the benefits and events of local organizations. The South Side Chamber of Commerce, the black-owned Binga State Bank and the Chicago Defender all held events there in the 1920s and 1930s. It was also a meeting place for announcements and to discuss pressing matters that concerned the people of the area.

About the Building.

The Savoy Ballroom, or Lady Savoy as it is sometimes called, was the first in a three part real estate development project by Harry M. and Louis Eglestein. The other two parts included The Regal Theater and the South Center Department Store, which both opened shortly after in 1928. Catering to Chicago’s Black social society, the building’s magnificent dance hall could hold over 4,000 people. Like its neighboring buildings, the Savoy was demolished to make way for new developments.

Poster from the Chicago Blues Museum Archives, Charlie Parker at the Savoy Ballroom. (Image courtesy of the Bronzeville Visitor Information Center.)

Logo from a Savoy Ballroom advertisement, 1928. (Image Courtesy of Chicago Public Library.)

Poster from the Chicago Blues Museum archives. (Image courtesy of Bronzeville Visitor Information Center.)