Located on the northwest corner of Paseo and 15th Street, Paseo Hall served as the hub of African American social events and dances. Originally a white dance hall known as Dehoney’s Dance Academy, Paseo Hall opened its doors to African Americans in March 1924, when band leader Bennie Moten assumed management of the hall.
Known as “The Finest Hall in the West,” Paseo Hall comfortably accommodated 2,200 dancers. Music and gaiety poured out of the large windows surrounding the hall, enticing passersby at the busy intersection. Entering through the double doors on 15th Street, patrons purchased tickets at the box office window on the left. Staircases flanked the entrance to the ball room, on either side, leading to the balcony, where music lovers watched nattily dressed dancers two-stepping across the gleaming wood floor. A huge, mirrored ball, suspended from the ceiling, presided over the festivities.
Duke Ellington, Fats Waller, Jimmy Lunceford, and other leading bands played Paseo Hall, usually sharing the stage with local bands. Paseo Hall often hosted marathon battles of the bands that pitted local bands against the great territorial bands of the Southwest. In 1930, Musicians Local 627 staged a series of battles of the bands to raise money to purchase a building at 1823 Highland for their headquarters. These spirited orchestral battles included as many as eight bands.
Charlie Parker played Paseo Hall on several occasions. In July 1935, Parker joined the Twelve Chords of Rhythm, led by Lawrence Keyes. A band of mostly high school students, the Twelve Chords of Rhythm played Lincoln Hall and other non-union venues. Band leader George E. Lee hired the Chords for a Halloween Dance on October 31, 1935. Parker and other members of the Chords had to join Local 627 to play the engagement at the Hall. A few months later, the Chords of Rhythm returned to Paseo Hall for a Christmas Dance with vocalist Christiana Bucker. In May 1938, St. Stephens Church bought Paseo Hall and converted it into a place of worship.
1414 E. 15th St.
Kansas City, MO 64108