Conflicting Strategies of Management and Memory at the Indiana Roof Ballroom, 1933-34

C Matthew Balensuela

Abstract


The Indiana Roof Ballroom in downtown Indianapolis houses a unique artifact relating to the reception of jazz and popular music in the early 1930s known as the “Jazz Door.” Two stagehands listed the bands that played at the Roof from 1933 to 1936 on the door, giving a rating of one to four stars (fair to extraordinary), for each band. This paper compares the entries on the Door for the 1933-34 season with ticket prices and publicity for the Ballroom, as seen in the local newspapers.  Such a comparision demonstrates that the creators of the Jazz Door and the management of the Indiana Roof Ballroom had differing opinions on the roles and purposes of popular music. In seeking to explain these differences, this paper views the Jazz Door not only as a record of jazz criticism, but seeks to place the Door within the larger contexts of society and commerce at the height of the Depression.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.14713/jjs.v10i1.81

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