© 2019 Gerard McNamee. All rights reserved

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Director of Operations and Curator at the legendary and world famous Webster Hall, which recently celebrated its 125th anniversary as

"a place of public assembly," Gerard affectionately exclaims, “Mere words will never do this job justice. It is sheer insanity, every moment.”...

​Historic nightclub, live music venue and event space in the East Village, New York City. 

 

Built in 1886 and designed by renowned architect Charles Rentz, Webster Hall was described as "The Jewel of the Village" by Eugene O'Neil.  It was where the original bohemians - the likes of Emma Goldman, Marcel DuChamp, and Margaret Sangor created unique costume balls to benefit nascent social and political causes. 

 

It was not unknown to witness Emma Goldman, the outspoken exponent of Anarchist philosophy on one night herald the cause of free love and birth control, and on the next witness the refined atmosphere and grace of a society function celebrating the nuptials of two of its elites.  Based upon the bacchanals in Paris and called such names as "The Blind Man's Ball", "The Pagan Rout", and "The Futurist Ball," they created the reputation of Greenwich Village which exists today.  As Floyd Dell recalled, "they were spontaneously joyous and deliberately beautiful, focusing in a mood of playfulness the passion for loveliness which was one of the things that brought us to the village." 

 

It was the birth of the modern nightclub.  During prohibition the balls moved from the social and political trends of the past to the hedonistic attitudes of the 'speak'.  Protection largess was lavished upon local politicians and the police who would turn a blind eye to the merry makers who attended despite, or perhaps because of, whispers that the venue was owned by the infamous mobster Al Capone.  Appropriately enough, prohibition's repeal was cause for one of Webster Hall's most legendary celebrations, "The Return of John Barleycorn."  But the depression and new political orthodoxy ended  nightlife's first golden age.

 

In the 50's R.C.A. records recognized the extraordinary acoustical integrity of the building and converted it into their East Coast recording venue, Webster Hall studios.  Carol Channing recorded "Hello Dolly ", Harold Prince, "Fiddler on the Roof" and luminaries such as Julie Andrews, Elvis Presley, Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra added their presence to the panopoly of stars that the venue has witnessed. 

 

On May 1st, 1980, The Ritz opened as the famous showcase for emerging rock acts.  Tina Turner, Eric Claptn, Prince, Sting, Kiss, B.B. King, and Guns 'n' Roses all performed on what was routinely called "the best stage in New York City."  The Ritz was the first nightclub to feature a video component which soon set the trend across America.  The Ritz relocated in 1986, giving the opportunity for Webster Hall to be reborn.

 

In 1990, the Ballinger family, from Toronto, Canada, rewrote the rulebook on New York nightlife.  To become purveyors of "the ultimate party", they restored the luster of Webster Hall, fusing state-of-the-art audio, video, and lighting technology with the spirit of the past.  The original color scheme was painstakingly recreated and once again Webster Hall is the shining jewel of New York City.  A facility capable of catering to an intimate gathering of 100 or hosting a cocktail party for 2,000, the Ballinger brothers proudly present Webster Hall.