Music Box

The Music Box was a very large and popular music club that opened its doors in 1960. Located at 10616 Euclid Avenue, it was across Euclid from where another popular music club of the time, Towne Casino, was located nine years prior. The Music Box hosted a variety of entertainment acts ranging from jazz musicians, including Miles Davis, to comedians to even female impersonation shows, or what we call drag shows today. These performers were nationally acclaimed at the time, with especially grandiose shows in cities such as Chicago and New York. The Music Box was said to be “one of the most beautiful nightclubs in Cleveland,” and its dance floor was considered to be “the biggest dance floor in Cleveland,” having a reported occupancy of four-hundred patrons. Club manager Yabo Gaynor was successful in having such a diverse clientele and acts since there was some sort of performance going on nightly. The club also hosted NAACP events and a benefit for the loyal doorman and bouncer Johnny Hill who sadly died of a heart attack at just the age of thirty. The Music Box had a very diverse clientele since it was in the heart of Cleveland’s “second downtown.” It was racially integrated and mixed suburbanites and urbanites. The club was very progressive for its time hosting the precursors to drag shows and providing drink and entertainment for anyone who walked in the doors no matter their skin color or class. The Music Box operated until 1968, when Black entrepreneur Winston E. Willis bought most of that block on the south side of Euclid Avenue. At that point the club became Keefer Place and then reopened again as Down Beat Swings at the end of 1969.

“Jewel Box Revue’s 20 Men, One Girl Opening at the Music Box Thursday.” Call & Post, Dec. 21, 1963.
10616 Euclid Ave.

References

  • “Big Maybelle Makes it to Music Box.” Call & Post. October 24, 1964.
  • “Carl Hall, New show at Music Box Monday.” Call & Post. March 16, 1963.
  • “Down Beat Swings Jumps Xmas Holidays.” Call & Post. December 27, 1969.
  • “Famed Stars Parade on Music Box Floor.” Call & Post. October 22, 1960.
  • Fuster, John. “About the Stars.” Call & Post. March 12, 1960.
  • Grantmyre, Laura. “They lived their life and they didn’t bother anybody: African American Female Impersonators and Pittsburgh’s Hill District, 1920-1960.” American Quarterly 63, no. 4 (December 2011): 983-1011.
  • “Jazz Train of ’63 Brightens Stage at Music Box: Pearl Box Revue, Hit 1963 Jazz Train Hot.” Call & Post. February 2, 1963.
  • “Jewel Box Revue’s 20 Men, One Girl Opening at the Music Box Thursday.” Call & Post. December 21, 1963.
  • “Jewel of show at Music Box.” Call & Post. December 28, 1963.
  • Keefer Place advertisement. Call & Post. June 8, 1968.
  • “Music Box Gets Pearl Box Revue.” Call & Post. November 17, 1962.
  • Vogel, Shane. The Scene of Harlem Cabaret: Race, Sexuality, Performance. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009.

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