Dance Halls and Cabarets

The popularity of jazz music reinvigorated public dancing during the early twentieth century and led to the opening of dozens of new dance facilities all across the city of Chicago. The city’s dance halls varied in size and appearance. Jazz cabarets, most heavily concentrated along South State Street between 31st and 43rd, were intimate establishments. Much larger ballrooms and dance pavilions were opened in the city’s hotels, at amusement parks, and in large entertainment districts. Their size encouraged the intermingling of strangers and, in many cases, aided in their search for fun, sex, and illicit liquor. For that reason, dance halls were frequently criticized by anti-vice organizations as unwholesome and immoral. In particular, the Juvenile Protective Association, led for many years by the widely respected Jane Addams, urged dance halls to adopt strict codes to regulate their design and licensing, as well as the behavior of patrons and staff. The city’s most famous ballrooms, the Trianon and the Aragon, were in part a response to such demands.

Dance Halls
Aragon BallroomArcadia BallroomMerry Garden BallroomSavoy BallroomTrianon BallroomParadise Ballroom

Green Mill GardensRainbo GardensMoulin Rouge