Home of Happy Feet: Savory Ballroom of Harlem, New York

Written by Jae Jones

Savory Ballroom was located in the heart of Harlem, New York. It was a popular dance venue right from the start in the late 1920s to the 1950s. The ballroom was often referred to as the “Home of Happy Feet”. Savory was opened by white entrepreneur, Jay Faggen and Moe Gale (Moses Galewski). became known as the world’s most beautiful ballroom; it occupied the second floor of a building that extended along the clock between 140th and 141st streets, and featured a large dance floor (200 ft. by 20 ft.).

The ballroom was managed by African-American real estate business man Charles Buchanon. Buchanon sought to run a “luxury ballroom to accommodate the many thousands who wished to dance in an atmosphere of tasteful refinement, rather than in the small cramped halls and the foul smelling, smoke laden cellar nightclubs.


Except for on special occasions, the ballroom had two bands, which played alternate sets, and this policy led to its becoming a famous venue for battles of bands. on May 15, 1927 the Savoy presented a “Battle of Jazz,” which featured King Oliver’s Dixie Syncopators, a band led by Williams, Chick Webb’s Harlem Stompers, and Henderson’s Roseland Orchestra; other battles were fought between bands led by Lloyd Scott, Webb, Alex Johnson, Charlie Johnson, Williams, and Henderson.

The club had a non-discrimination policy. The patrons were 85 percent and 15 percent white, and thing people wanted to know at the Savory was if you danced or not. Chick Webb was the leader of the best known Savoy house band during the mid-1930s. A teenage Ella Fitzgerald, fresh from a talent show win at the Apollo Theater in 1934, became its vocalist. The ballroom closed its doors permanently in 1958. Despite efforts by Borough President Hulan Jack and others to save it, the Savoy and the nearby Cotton Club were demolished for the construction of a housing complex, Bethune Towers/Delano Village. The ballroom was auctioned off for $25,000 to a middle income housing project.




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About the author

Jae Jones

Jae Jones has been writing professionally for over 10 years. She holds a degree in Business Administration, and enjoys writing on various topics.

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