“A Most Beautiful Dance Place”
In researching the book The Grande Ballroom – Detroit’s Rock n’ Roll Palace I was only able to speculate, not confirm the official opening date of the Grande Ballroom operation. Thanks to research performed for the nomination to list the Grande on the National Register of Historic Places, the opening dates have been established.
I was aware that A.E. Burns held their retail grand opening the weekend of October 19th and 20th 1928. However, it was formerly only assumed that the weekend before Halloween would be ideal for a public opening of the dance operation.
Grand Opening 10.27.28
Tiny ads that ran in the Detroit Free Press that week confirm a PUBLIC dance “Grand Opening” Saturday October 27th with “The Victors” dance band. The Victors enjoyed their booking well into the month of November that year.
Tuesday October 30,1928 – First Private Dance
A large banner from the September 11, 1928 Grande construction photograph boasted that the “First dance to be held at the new ballroom..” was to be private, for the Geo. Monaghan Knights of Columbus. This dance was mentioned the following month in the Free Press.
It also turns out, that same week in 1928 there was a bit of a transportation crisis in Detroit. By court order, “Jitneys” (short framed buses) had been banned from city streets and there was tremendous pressure on the streetcars. Even in 1928 not everyone owned a car. So chances were if you were going out dancing at that new ballroom, you were going by streetcar!
All images courtesy The Detroit Free Press.
Special thanks to Todd Walsh – SHPO, Lansing, Mi.