V.A. – Where It’s At: Recorded “Live” At The Cheetah (1966)
The Cheetah was a club that occupied three floors on the site of the old Riviera Ballroom at Broadway and 53rd Street in New York City. The ballroom floor, which was at street level, also featured a modern art gallery and boutique which carried the latest imported and domestic Mod fashions of the day. It had perhaps the most unusual store hours anywhere, 9 p. m.to 4 a. m. Also on this floor drinks and snacks were obtained self-service style from buffet hot dog carts and the bars.
Originally Cheetah sold beer, but the serving of alcoholic beverages prohibited young people under eighteen from entering and since the club was designed for young people as young as sixteen, the beer policy was abandoned.
On the lower floor, in addition to an expanding library of hip foreign and domestic magazines, was a lounge with a television and another with a Scopitone (a juke box with films that accompany music). On the upper floor there was a movie theatre featuring both old and experimental avant-garde films, all this for $3 per person on weekdays and $4 on weekends.
“The most elaborate discotheque was Cheetah, on Broadway and 53rd Street, where everybody, according to Life, looked like “a kook in a Kubla Khanteen.” The three thousand colored lightbulbs dimmed and flicked and popped into an infinity of light patterns, reflecting off shiny aluminum sheets.
Cheetah held two thousand people and offered not only dancing but a library, a movie room, and color television.” The Cheetah provides the most curious use of the intermedia,” wrote Jonas Mekas. “Whereas the Dom shows are restricted (or became restricted) to the In-circle, Cheetah was designed for the masses.”
The Cheetah was the brainchild of Olivier Coquelin who with Borden Stevenson, who was the son of Adlai Stevenson, opened it on April 27, 1966. Coquelin’s family had operated a prominent hotel chain in Europe, he came to the United States from Paris in the early 1950s. An energetic, imaginative and enterprising individual, he was the first person to ever open a discotheque in New York City.
“Where It’s At” was an attempt at capturing the sounds and mood of the club and sampled the kind of music that was played there. it is quite the period piece. The album features three groups from the New York/New Jersey area, The Esquires, Mike St. Shaw & The Prophets, and The The Thunder Frog Ensemble and perfectly documents what the “Long Island Sound” was all about.
Songs featured here are a Rolling Stones’ medley of “Paint It Black” and “Get Off My Cloud” by the Esquires and “Good Lovin'”/”Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag” by Mike St. Shaw & The Prophets. (Jack Dominilla)
- Paint It Black/Get Off My Cloud [The Esquires]
- Goin’ Out Of My Head/Up Tight [The Esquires]
- Good Lovin’/Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag [Mike St.Shaw & The Prophets]
- Baby, Don’t Put Me On [The Thunder Frog Ensemble]
- Everybody Needs Somebody To Love/Pretty Poor Find [The Thunder Frog Ensemble]