A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from February 18, 2016
Devil’s Playhouse (Webster Hall)

Webster Hall, at 125 East 11th Street in Manhattan, was built in 1886 and has held some notorious events. “WEBSTER HALL—The Devil’s Playhouse” was advertised in the January 1918 issue of The Quill (A Magazine of Greenwich Village). “Devil’s Playhouse” would be popularized in the 1920s.

Webster Hall has had many other uses—including as a recording studio—and the “Devil’s Playhouse” nickname is mostly historical, but is still infrequently used.


Wikipedia: Webster Hall
Webster Hall is a nightclub and concert venue located at 125 East 11th Street, between Third and Fourth Avenues, near Astor Place, in the East Village of Manhattan, New York City. Built in 1886, its current incarnation was opened by the Ballinger Brothers in 1992. It serves as a nightclub, concert venue, corporate events center, and recording venue, and has a capacity of 2,500 people – including the club; 1,400 for the main stage.

On March 18, 2008, after a landmarks proposal was submitted by the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission designated Webster Hall and its Annex a New York City landmark.
(...)
In the 1910s and 20s, Webster Hall became known for its masquerade balls and other soirees reflecting the hedonism of the city’s Bohemians. Nicknamed the “Devil’s Playhouse” by the socialist magazine The Masses, Webster Hall became particularly known for the wilder and more risque events of the time; Marcel Duchamp, Joseph Stella, Man Ray, Francis Picabia, Charles Demuth, Scott Fitzgerald and many other notables regularly attended events there during this time.

Google Books
1 January 1918, The Quill (A Magazine of Greenwich Village), pg. 2 ad:
The Greenwich Village Art Revel
The Authentic Art Revel of This Year

WEBSTER HALL—The Devil’s Playhouse
119 East 11th Street—February 1

Google Books
Greenwich Village:
Culture and Counterculture

By Rick Beard
New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers Univ. Press
1993
Pg. 385:
At the peak of their popularity around the time of the 1918 Armistice, as many as two balls per week were being held at what Villagers termed “the Devil’s Playhouse.”

Google Books
All Around the Town:
Amazing Manhattan Facts and Curiosities

By Patrick Bunyan
New York, NY: Fordham University Press
2011
Pg. 173:
EAST 11TH STREET
125 East 11th Street
Webster Hall ° Nicknamed ‘’The Devil’s Playhouse,’’ this building, still operating as a club, was a popular place for many avant-garde parties as well as left-wing political rallies.

Bowery Boys (NYC History)
Bowery Boys Archive Feed
Thu, 16 July 2015
#73 Webster Hall “The Devil’s Playhouse”
Webster Hall, as beautifully worn and rough-hewn as it was during its heyday in the 1910s and 20s, disguises a very surprising past, a significant venue in the history of the labor movement, Greenwich Village bohemia, gay and lesbian life, and pop and rock music. Its ballroom has hosted the likes of Emma Goldman, Marcel Duchamp, Jefferson Airplane, Robert F Kennedy and Madonna. Listen in to find out how it got it’s reputation as ‘the devil’s playhouse’.
PODCAST REWIND This was originally released on January 3, 2009
BONUS MATERIAL! Almost ten minutes of newly recorded material, adding a couple more interesting details from Webster Hall’s unique history.

Untapped Cities—New York
The Top 10 Secrets of NYC’s Webster Hall
02/17/2016 at 9:00 am
by vera penavic
(...)
4. Webster Was Nicknamed “The Devil’s Playhouse”
The parties during the 1900s got so wild that the hall got this nickname removing any kind of image of respectability original owner Goldstein had in mind. According to a Bowery Boys podcast, the parties were so lavish, full of dancing, and crazy behavior that the wealthier populations living uptown started to come down to enjoy themselves. It was the place where some of New York City’s first drag parties happened, and where many artists, small-time and famous would come and party

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityBuildings/Housing/Parks • Thursday, February 18, 2016 • Permalink