Grande. Graystone. Arcade. Crystal. Vanity. Names of Detroit’s dancing past, when the city had beautiful ballrooms to house the big band and Motown sounds that were created with the musical heart and soul of Detroit.
Of the above, the last built before the Great Depression was the Vanity in 1929. The east side Jefferson Chalmers neighborhood has been recently designated a National Historic Treasure, and a structural and environmental survey has been funded to see how this amazing structure that is in the best shape of the ballrooms left could be brought back to life.
When it first opened couples danced to music from Duke Ellington and Cab Calloway. Later, bands like the MC5 and Iggy Pop and the Stooges filled the ballroom with their rock.
So take a look and dream of restoration, Detroit. If the stars align, you’ll be kicking off your dancing shoes again one day in The Vanity.
That stage is legendary.
The Aztec motif is throughout. Another venue that had an Aztec style originally but got redone in midcentury modern is the Fisher Theatre.
Glorious detail from the ceiling that fell on the floor
Sunlight now comes through the roof where it was a lighted chandelier.
We’ll take your coats…
Fun fact – for most of the Vanity’s life, the bar didn’t serve alcohol.
If you’d like to see some photos of the building back in the day as well as a complete history, head over to HistoricDetroit.org.