Webster Hall

11th St. Bet. 3rd & 4th Ave.



In 1992, the Ballinger Family -- Toronto, Canadaís nightlife czars, finished restoring Webster Hall -- a 111 year old landmark building and former turn-of-the-century ballroom, recording studio, and site of the Ritz showcase venue.
Five years later, Webster Hall is regarded as NYCís premiere nightclub, frequented by over half a million people a year, including personalities ranging from President Clinton to Madonna.

Webster Hall -- 1986-1997

On October 24, 1997, the Ballinger Family and Webster Hallís extended family of club-goers will celebrate five years of hosting New Yorkís most elegant, extravagant, star-studded, and most wickedly decadent nights.

This landmark building at 125 East 11th Street in NYCís Greenwich Village, has a century-long tradition of serious-partying. It was originally built in 1886 by renowned architect Charles Rentz, and quickly became the countryís first modern nightclub. For the past 111 years, Webster Hall has served as a high society banquet hall, a 1920ís speakeasy, a recording studio in the 50ís, an ethnic meeting hall, and the Ritz showcase venue in the 80ís.

Greenwich Village: NYCís Greenwich Village was in its hey dey through the late 1800ís and early 1900ís when it was a magnet for the worldís artistic and literary avant-garde. The area from Houston Street to Union Square, Fifth Avenue to Broadway, was home to artists and authors, ranging from Mark Twain to Oscar Wilde, and others.

Artists Balls: Webster Hall played a major role in the turn-of-the-century merrymaking, and parties that became known as artists balls. These wild fund-raising events were based on the Dada or avant-garde artists balls popular in Paris, and sported names such as Pagan Routs, Red Revel Futuristic Ball, Art Modelsí Frolic, and Blind Manís Ball. Tickets to these events and postcards of photos from the balls benefited NYís artistic community and causes such as socialist periodicals and political groups. As their reputation grew, Greenwich Village earned the reputation as a Bohemian playground frequented by uptown society, wealthy patrons of the arts, and tourists.

Webster Hall was the center of this Bacchanal revelry and became known as the Devilís playhouse. This period was the first in our nationís history to welcome the expression of sexual and political liberties. These costume balls allowed a new sense of sexual freedom and fun, and introduced risquť dances including the bunny hop, turkey trot, and the anarchist slide. As the country began to mobilize for World War I, Webster Hall planned its final blow-out, 1917ís Blind Manís Ball, billed as a new fashioned hop, skip and jump, to the Pre-historic, Ultra-Bohemian, Post-Alcoholic Webster Hall. Its revelers included a cross-section of NYís avant-garde -- Dada pioneer Marcel Duchamp (who drunkenly climbed a chandelier), photographer Man Ray, and Joseph Stella (who challenged a man to a duel over the alleged undoing of author Beatrice Woodís virginity), among others.

77 years later, Webster Hall recreated the last of the great Greenwich Village artistís fetes as the Dada Ball, featuring members of the 90ís avant-garde: Ru Paul, Allen Ginsberg, Ross Bleckner, and Karen Finley.

Dada: Dada was a term originally coined at Europeís most famous nightclub, The Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich, Switzerland. The word was selected at random from a French-German dictionary (itís French for hobby-horse) and represented a avant-garde movement of unorthodox art, thought and morality. The mascot of this nihilistic movement was Marcel Duchampís sculpture, Fountain which had been rejected from an important art exhibition in 1917. In fact, Duchampís work was simply a urinal -- a signed utilitarian piece of porcelain that has since become a modern art icon.

The 20ís -30ís: During the 1920ís-30ís, Webster Hall became famous as a popular speakeasy, protected by under-the-table bribes. It was whispered that gangster Al Capone was one of the owners. As the Depression dragged on, a new morality began to combat the eraís crime and corruption. The repeal of prohibition was the inspiration for one of 1929ís most legendary celebrations, The Return of John Barleycorn.

The 50ís: For nearly 20 years following the depression, Webster Hall remained dark. It wasnít until the 1950ís that RCA Records stepped-in and resurrected the site, converting it into their East Coast recording venue, Webster Hall Studios. If these walls had ears, they would have heard landmark recordings including Carol Channingís Hello Dolly, and Harold Princeís Fiddler on the Roof, as well as recordings by Elvis Presley, Julie Andrews, Tony Bennett, and Frank Sinatra. The 80ís: In the 8th decade of this century, Webster Hall was once again reincarnated -- this time as a popular performance space known as The Ritz. From 1980 - 1986, artists such as Eric Clapton, Tina Turner, Prince, Sting, Kiss, BB King and Guns & Roses regularly performed for thousands on the best stage in New York City. It was also the first club in the world to incorporate the new medium of video into its nightly entertainment.

The 90ís: Four brothers Doug, Peter, Stephen and Lonny Ballinger grew-up on a 200 acre farm outside of Toronto. They would soon become known as the kingpins of Torontoís nightlife. Today, their Canadian empire includes five dance clubs and a fortune estimated at $60 million.

In 1990, the Ballinger Family took upon themselves the challenge of restoring Webster Hall. They painstakingly re-created the original color schemes, ornate ceilings, staircases, balustrades, chandeliers, and 40,000 square feet of flooring in seven event rooms on over four separate floors. The Ballingers married the elegance of the 1890ís with the technology of the 1990ís, fusing state-of-the-art audio, video and the most technologically advanced lighting system in the world with the spirit of the past.

Two years, and nearly four million dollars later, Webster Hall was once again, in the words of playwright Eugene OíNeill (1842-1920), the Jewel of the Village, enjoyed by over 500,000 people each year.

The Formula for a Village party? ... pick an exotic theme, hire a band, sell cheap liquor... and rent Webster Hall.
-- Beatrice Woods 1917 - In-Media Publicity

Four of New York's legendary DJ's lead the biggest rock and roll dance
party in the city. Check out the:
Main Ballroom , Marlin Room & Black Hole
Balcony Lounge

Don't be surprised to see trapeze artists flying above your head, or
stilt walkers towering over you.

Live at Webster Hall Volume One features 70+ minutes of bone-crushing dance music, hard-to-find underground tracks and the wizardry of deejays from New York, London and the Netherlands. This is the future of NYCís dance music. Webster Hall owner Lon Ballinger and club deejay John Suliga test-marketed hundreds of songs in the club each night and chose 11 dance floor favorites for the CD. Live at Webster Hall Volume One is available at music stores, Webster Hall, 1-888-WebHall, or www.webster-hall.com (visitors may log-in for free or discounted club entry). The $14.98 CD includes a Webster Hall complimentary admission pass valued at $20.00. A portion of the proceeds will benefit LIFEbeat.


©Webtunes. Updated: