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May 30, 2010

10

V.A. – Where It’s At: Recorded “Live” At The Cheetah (1966)

Artist: V.A.
Title: Where It’s At: Recorded “Live” At The Cheetah
Year: 1966
Format: LP
Label: Audio Fidelity

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)

Track Listing

  1. Paint It Black/Get Off My Cloud [The Esquires]
  2. Goin’ Out Of My Head/Up Tight [The Esquires]
  3. Good Lovin’/Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag [Mike St.Shaw & The Prophets]
  4. Baby, Don’t Put Me On [The Thunder Frog Ensemble]
  5. Everybody Needs Somebody To Love/Pretty Poor Find [The Thunder Frog Ensemble]
Read more from Rock Psychedelic
10 Comments Post a comment
  1. Vladimir
    May 3 2010

    Thank You very much, Leonard, for all Your efforts and so rare and good music!
    Big thanks also for quick & warm reply!
    Vladimir

  2. Sadness
    May 3 2010

    Hi my friend ..you always come up with the amazing and unusual finds..lok forward to next incredible finds..thanks for opening our eyes and ears to these rarity`s..
    all best

  3. monkeeboy
    May 4 2010

    Everything is right with the world once gain because we still have Leonard!! Thanks for still being there for us psych fans!! Always the best to you!!

  4. Anonymous
    May 5 2010

    Leonard,

    Still working on the backup of all that you have done.

    Please, Please, keep up the great work.

    Peace LOVE & Happiness,

    The_Rick_in_Egg

  5. jimmark66
    May 6 2010

    Thanks for this Leonard..A great album.

    Thanks

    Jim

  6. Anonymous
    May 16 2010

    The musical "Hair" got it's Broadway start in December 1967 at the space where the Cheetah was. There were perfomances of it at the location until January 1968, when it became "legit".

    - MoonBear

    Glad to see the Blog is still around!

  7. Anonymous
    May 18 2010

    The building that housed The Cheetah still stands…but not for long. Most recently it was one of those "Monster" deli's that you find here and there around Manhattan, you know, the ones with the giant buffet offerings. Currently, the place is boarded up and since the building is only two stories tall and sits on prime real-estate, the wrecking ball is coming soon. Really, it takes a lot of imagination to visualize what the place once was. It's pretty much just a shell now.

    It will likely suffer the same fate as the building next door which has a much more interesting interior. THAT building more recently housed a "Gentleman's Club" but I can tell you having been in the space occupying the top floors BEFORE they turned it into "Legs Diamond", it must have been amazing back in the day. Imagine the Scene where The Strawberry Alarm Clock were playing in the party house in the film Beyond The Valley Of the Dolls and cross that with the cloned scene of THAT scene in Austin Powers and you'll just about get what was going on there. Purple and Pink paisley flocked wallpaper, a serpentine bar and all sorts of Grooviness virtually dripping from the walls. Somehow, like a lot of spaces in Manhattan, the club there closed its doors somewhere in the late 60's/Early 70's to enter suspended animation for decades. Same thing with the Grotto/Cavern Club in New Haven which reopened for a brief period in the mid 1980's – woken from a coma with only the dust cleared away. That place would have made your head spin with it's 1966 decor of "Checkerboard EVERYWHERE and stucco stalagtites".

    If you want to see the remnants of a NYC club that has plenty of ghosts, find what was once THE SCENE CLUB just off of 8th Ave in the 40's. Last I saw, it was a Porno/Karate/Japanamation store. You can see where the stage area used to be. Close your eyes and you can picture Hendrix, Jim Morrison, The Third Bardo, Strangeloves and all the other acts that played there way long time ago.

    Not all the old places have been razed but the ones that remain are incognito.

  8. Redtelephone66
    May 18 2010

    Hello Anonymous,
    Thank you very much for your input concerning the Cheetah

  9. Anonymous
    May 18 2010

    Actually, I stand corrected. I just popped outside and walked a block or so to check out the site. Turns out an office building was erected on the site in 1986. I had the wrong corner. The site that is vacant now WAS a club at one time, though. Funny thing, that. Within about four square blocks you can find what's remaining of Studio 54 (now a "Theater") and no less than 5 former nightclubs. The original Madison Square Garden was nearby as well. It seems as if any place that survived past the 80's got targeted in the 00's. Half of the North side of 54th street and entire blocks along 8th Ave have been "redeveloped"

    A few blocks East, 52nd street used to be ALL jazz clubs back in the day, speakeasies before that. The ONLY place still standing there is "21". I guess they had to leave ONE place standing as a reminder.

    I could probably take you on a walking tour lasting DAYS telling you what "Used To Be" there and there and there but there are websites making all that easier, right?

    At least we still have the music.

  10. RealityBlow
    Jul 20 2010

    Hi Everyone,
    I own this great and underrated Garage LP. It is not rare but it is certainly scarce. Now, what is rare is the Blow-up PVC pillow that ONLY came with the U.S MONO Pressings of the LP. An exact replica of the cover. Has anyone seen the pillow that came with this LP ? Does anyone know how many copies out there exist ?
    So far I have seen U.S MONO and STEREO pressings AND there is also a Canadian MONO pressing of this. I think the PVC pillow is Killer rare………. Anyone ?

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