Last night Mr M and I took the C train up to 125th Street in Harlem for a night out at the APOLLO Theater, a venue that has been said to have “exerted a greater influence upon popular culture than any other entertainment venue in the world. (Ted Fox, “Showtime at the Apollo”).
To be honest I had never heard of the Apollo Theater until I moved here (despite it being world famous), but now, having seen the calibre of the performers immortalised in photos on the walls I can see why I should have.
So there we were at Apollo Amateur Night, ready to witness the discovery of the next Ella Fitzgerald (who in1934 won at one of the first Amateur Nights), James Brown or Jimi Hendrix.
After DJ Jess had energised the crowd with a little YMCA (amongst others), Capone (the Gangster of comedy and the evening's host) pumped us up a little more, with an audience member dance-off on stage (Jeff from Arizona – you rocked!) and some much needed ‘cheering’ and ‘booing’ practice. You see talent is in the eye of the beholder, and we, the audience, were required to let the “executioner” know when someone needed to be removed from the stage. The one gentle exception being during the child-star round (no booing, encouragement only).
Two hours later we were exhausted from cheering, chanting and clapping. The booing really didn’t come naturally to me, although I did give it a go when the girl in the purple dress and bright yellow heels tried to hit that high note. Ouch! Needless to say the “executioner” grooved onto the stage and booted her off.
We may not have discovered the next big thing (although the winners, an upbeat violinist and a female Michael Jackson impersonator were incredible!) but it was a great night out, and well priced. The view from our $19 seats (I bought the cheapest ones) was decent towards the back of the middle section, but I would have loved to have been in the thick of things in the lower section (aka "downtown"). Definitely a recommendation for my international visitors!