The Century Room, located at 3605 Broadway, opened in October 1939. John Tumino, the former manager of the dance pavilion at Fairyland Park, operated the spacious upstairs club. Catering to the younger set, the Century Room did not serve alcohol, but looked the other way as patrons brought in liquor from a nearby Berbiglia Wine & Spirits store.
Gigging Around Town
Originally a rough-and-tumble speakeasy located at 9th and State Line roads across from the sprawling Armour & Company meat packing facility, the Antlers Club catered to the workers streaming in and out of the slaughterhouse with gambling, strippers, and boxing matches.
One of Kansas City’s most popular nightclubs, Tootie’s Mayfair opened in April 1940 at 7952 Wornall Road, in an area then known as “out in the county.” At that time, the city limits ended at 75th Street, so Tootie’s and other clubs in the vicinity were not subject to closing laws and other restrictions. Matt “Tootie” Clarkin, a retired police detective, operated his namesake club. A popular destination for late night revelers, the Mayfair offered dancing nightly until 4:00 am to local and national bands with three floor shows. Striptease dancers spiced the fast-moving floor shows.
During long, hot midwestern summers, Kansas Citians flocked to Fairyland Park, a popular amusement park spread out over 80 acres at the southwest corner of 75th and Prospect. Known as the Million Dollar Playground, Fairyland featured the Crystal Pool, an expansive clear water pool, a spacious open air dance pavilion, carnival rides dominated by a massive roller coaster, a theater, and a carnival midway crowded with games of chance and other amusements.
The Country Club Plaza, the nation’s first planned suburban shopping center, opened in 1923. Located at 47th and Main Street, the Plaza sported a Spanish Mission motif inspired by the architecture of Kansas City sister city: Seville, Spain.
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.