Help Save Harlem’s Historic Renaissance Ballroom from Demolition

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Protesters Aim to Save Harlems Historic Renaissance Ballroom from Demolition – Video: via Protesters Aim to Save Harlems Historic Renaissance Ballroom from Demolition – NY1.

“The Ballroom was completed in 1924 as part of a larger entertainment hub that included a bustling casino and 900-seat theatre.  Built and operated by black businessmen, the “Rennie” was the only upscale reception hall available to African Americans at the time.  Prize fights, concerts, dance marathons, film screenings, and stage acts were held at the Renaissance, along with elegant parties and meetings of the most influential social clubs and political organizations in Harlem.  The community’s elite gathered to dance the Charleston and the Black Bottom to live entertainment by the most renowned jazz musicians of the age.

“The nightspot even played host to the nation’s first all-black professional basketball team, also called the Harlem Renaissance, considered by some to be the best in the world in their day.  On game nights, portable hoops were erected on the dance floor, converting the ballroom into a stadium.  Following each game, almost invariably a victory for the Rens, a dance was held where players would mingle and jive with the choicest ladies of Harlem.  The team barnstormed in towns across the country, playing exhibition games in which coveted matches with white teams drew the largest crowds.  In their best season, the Renns set a record with 88 consecutive wins that has yet to be broken.”


Author: HarlemGuy

16 thoughts on “Help Save Harlem’s Historic Renaissance Ballroom from Demolition

  1. Erica, you raise many points that are worthy of consideration….yes you are absolutely right,this is not 1924; and we should not look to making the “Renny” exactly what it was. There is a very viable alternative to demolition/new construction, and and that is”adaptive reuse” as implemented successfully in both the Audubon Ballroom, and at the current location of the Thurgood Marshall High School on 135th and ACP
    If you remove all that is Harlem, from Harlem,; you are left with nothing more than another soulless warren of Big Box Stores, Starbucks and Ihops …… anywhere USA!
    It is ironic that all this is transpiring at the same time the city has just released a promotional video touting Harlem as a tourist destination.
    At this rate, with no more Small’s Paradise, Copelands, Lenox Lounge, and the impending destruction of the “Renny” you’ll soon have a more “authentic” Harlem experience in Disney world than here #savetheRenny

  2. I think this was such a beautiful time and ballroom. But we can’t always live in the past. Memories are great, but basketball teams play in actual stadiums now. The new development will still be excellent for the community. It just will no longer be 1924. If the past few years had been dedicated to actually restoring the ballroom, perhaps similar to how Minton’s was restored, then I would be thrilled at the thought of a ballroom I could go to and learn the jitterbug. But these simply are not those days. Sometimes we have to let things, time spaces and places go, and move forward to yet creating more history, that at some point in the future, will too have to be let go off to create space for the next phase of this wonderful cycle of life.

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