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.


How grand!
img_5900 img_5899 img_5898 dsc02589 dsc02591 dsc02593 dsc02594

That stage is legendary.

dsc02598 dsc02600

The Aztec motif is throughout. Another venue that had an Aztec style originally but got redone in midcentury modern is the Fisher Theatre.

dsc02601 dsc02603
dsc02605 dsc02607

Glorious detail from the ceiling that fell on the floor

dsc02610 dsc02613

Sunlight now comes through the roof where it was a lighted chandelier.

dsc02599 dsc02615

We’ll take your coats…

dsc02618 dsc02621

Fun fact – for most of the Vanity’s life, the bar didn’t serve alcohol.

dsc02623 dsc02626 dsc02630 dsc02635 dsc02651 dsc02664 dsc02680


If you’d like to see some photos of the building back in the day as well as a complete history, head over to

Share this post