Shaw in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
A Magic Place
City within a City
—Greater U Street Heritage Trail —
Louis Armstrong and Sarah Vaughn were two of the nationally famous entertainers who played in the brick building on this corner, once home to the popular Club Bali, also called the New Bali. In the memory of one former customer, it was a magic place, its rear garden lit with strings of lights in the summertime.
Club Bali was one of many nightclubs that made the U street area a mecca for music lovers from the jazz era of the 1920s to Motown sound of the 1960s. The magic often continued late into the night, as name entertainers, winding down after formal engagements, played to intimate gatherings int the wee hours of the morning in the many tucked-away, after-hours clubs located throughout the neighborhood.
Fourteenth Street was a place shared, uneasily, by Black and White Washingtonians in segregated Washington. Black and White people owned, managed, and patronized stores on this important commercial corridor, which, both connected and divided the mostly Black community on the east from the mostly white community on the west. While the White-owned People’s Drug Store at the corner of 14th and U refused to serve African Americans at the counter, most of the predominantly Black clubs such as the Bali welcomed Whites, making the nightclub scene in Washington one of the city’s few integrated social scenes.
Announcement of The Louis Armstrong Sextet’s appearance at the New Bali Restaurant, 1901 14th St. (Henry P. Whitehead Collection)
And photo of Louis Armstrong at the Bali with Jack Teagarden and Earl “Fatha” Hines on piano. (Photo by Tom Lodge. The Historical Society of Washington, DC)
Announcement of Ella Fitzgerald performing at the New Bali and ad for the Casbah Supper Club at 1211 U St. (Henry P. Whitehead Collection)
Ads for the Club Madre at 2204 14th St. and the New Bali Restaurant featuring Lester Young (Henry P. Whitehead Collection)
Sarah Vaughn at the Club Bali in 1947. (Photo by Tom Lodge. The Historical Society of Washington, DC)
Ad for the “Harlem Tropicana” show starring Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five at the Club Bali (Henry P. Whitehead Collection)
[Caption for Photo on Reverse:]
Erected by Cultural Tourism DC. (Marker Number 9 of 14.)
Location. 38° 54.938′ N, 77° 1.907′ W. Marker is in Shaw, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is at the intersection of 14th Street, NW and T Street, NW, on the right when traveling north on 14th Street, NW. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Washington DC 20009, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Black Broadway (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); John Wesley Cromwell Residence (about 500 feet away); The Whitelaw Hotel and “the Duke” (about 600 feet away); Riots to Renaissance (about 600 feet away); "Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child" (about 600 feet away); "Old Man River" (about 600 feet away); "No More Auction Block For Me" (about 600 feet away); "Wade in the Water" (about 600 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Shaw.
Categories. • African Americans • Arts, Letters, Music • Entertainment • Notable Buildings •
Credits. This page was last revised on January 2, 2018. This page originally submitted on May 7, 2011, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. This page has been viewed 599 times since then and 18 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on May 7, 2011, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. 6. submitted on December 29, 2017, by Devry Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.