The Raymor ballroom is located just one block from Symphony Hall on Huntington Avenue. This area became known as the "Harlem" of Boston. The Raymor-Playmor ballroom featured big bands including the bands of Woodie Herman, Charlie Barnett, Jimmy Lunceford and Benny Goodman. These concerts were broadcast across the country so anyone with a radio could enjoy the music.
Ballrooms originated during the Jazz Age of the United States. Big bands would provide entertainment in the ballroom, which was large enough for dancing. The style of ballrooms varied from very elegant interior design to those that were very plain. The ballroom was the place for social gatherings, and there are several famous ballrooms located in Massachusetts.
The Commodore Ballroom was run by the Braun family. The Braun family was responsible for bringing the carousel to the United States. The Commodore was built in Lowell, Massachusetts, and dancers from as far away as Providence and Manchester would travel to enjoy a bit of "check dancing." Patrons went specifically to dance, as only chips and soft drinks were available, no alcohol. Famous musicians who played at the Commodore include Duke Ellington, Louie Armstrong, Artie Shaw, Stan Kenton and Count Basie.
Roseland State Ballroom
Roseland State Ballroom was located on Massachusetts Avenue in Boston, directly across from the Christian Science Center. The Roseland, as with the Raymor, was the spot for big band and jazz musicians of the time. Patrons came to dance but also to listen to the great musicians, including Jimmie Lunceford, Count Basie and Duke Ellington. Interestingly, a young Malcolm X worked as a shoeshine boy at the Roseland.
Nuttings-on-the-Charles was located in Waltham, Massachusetts, along the Charles River on Prospect Street. The ballroom burned down in 1961, but it is still possible to see the pilings on the river. The ballroom was opened in 1914 by C.P. Nutting. This was also a boat house that was used for roller skating, boxing, dancing and concerts. This ballroom was famous, as it was one of the few ballrooms in Massachusetts, outside of Boston, where the famous big bands of the time played.
- Ballrooms of the Past
- The Hub: Boston Past and Present; T.H. O'Connor; March 2001
- University of Massachusetts Libraries; Memories of the Commodore Ballroom
- Boston Magazine: The Shape of Jazz That Was
- Historic Waltham, Inc.; Charles River in Waltham
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