Historian Tyler Stovall on Bricktop’s

Tyler Stovall recalls the days at Bricktop’s, a club at the center of the scene in Montmartre. Next: Watch and listen to Tyler Stovall explain the role of jazz during and after the war and the genesis of bebop.
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Tyler Stovall: Whereas Josephine Baker makes her reputation on the main stages in Paris – the Theatre de Champs Elysees, for example – Bricktop remains for this entire period a fixture of the Montmartre clubs. She first establishes one club named Bricktop’s and then she moves to another one, which she also names Bricktop’s. But if you want to go to a club in Montmartre, hers is ultimately the place to go.

Bricktop’s was a place where you could go and experience the confluence of many different worlds. All sitting around drinking champagne and listening to jazz music and eating American style cuisine. It was very expensive. It was not a place for people who were not flush with money or not willing to spend it, but once you got in the door, you could pay the ticket, you were welcome no matter who you were.

By 1931, 1932 however, the scene in the Montmartre jazz club industry was definitely hurting. Times were not as good as they had been. Even Bricktop, who had been tremendously prosperous during the 1920s is now beginning to feel the pressure.