Heavyweight boxing champion Jack Johnson opened the Club De Luxe at 142nd Street and Lenox Avenue in Harlem in 1920. Owney Madden, a prominent bootlegger and gangster, took over the club in 1923 while imprisoned in Sing Sing and changed its name to the Cotton Club. The dancers and strippers occasionally performed for Madden in Sing Sing after his return there in 1933. Closed temporarily in 1936 after the race riot in Harlem, the Cotton Club reopened later that year at Broadway and 48th Street. It closed for good in 1940, under pressure from higher rents. It was opened at its present location in 1978. The legend of the Cotton Club has a sinister side; while the club featured many of the greatest black entertainers of the era, such as Fletcher Henderson, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Bessie Smith, Cab Calloway, The Nicholas Brothers, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole, Billie Holiday, and Ethel Waters, it generally denied admission to African Americans. Fast forward to the current Cotton Club and now finally all are welcome. There is a Gospel brunch on Sundays ($34 including show and buffet) and Mondays are swing nights ($15.00 cover and a la carte menu). The music is still great, (the food is really just ok). What a relief that some things never change while others do.
Hours: Mon, 8pm-midnight; Thu-Fri, 8pm-midnight; Sat, noon-midnight; Sun, noon-8:15pm; Tue-Wed, closed
656 W. 125th St., nr. Broadway, NY 10027 212-663-7980