The Hoofers Club In Harlem, 1930’s

hoofers clubThe Hoofers Club was an black entertainment establishment and dancers club hangout in Harlem, NY, in the early to mid twentieth century. The club was a legendary site of some of the best of jazz and tap performers, particularly in the 1920s and 1930s. It was located on Harlem’s “Swing Street,” the stretch of 133rd Street between Lenox and Seventh Avenues known for its music and dance venues. The Hoofer’s Club was actually a small room in the back of a comedy club. It was 12 feet by 12 feet and was open 24/7. Among the tap-dancers who appeared at the club were Bill ‘Bojangles’ Robinson, Jack Wiggins, John Bubbles, Honi Coles, Eddie Rector, Dewey Washington, Raymond Winfield, Roland Holder, Harold Mablin, “Slappy” Wallace, Warren Berry, and Baby Laurence and other black tap dance greats. The Hoofers Club was depicted in Francis Ford Coppola’s film The Cotton Club from 1984. The “Tree of Hope,” a piece of which is still touched by performers for good luck on the stage of the Apollo Theater, originally stood outside The Hoofers Club and the nearby Lafayette Theatre.

Photo from Gordon Plotnick’s big Apple Jazz.

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