The El Torreon was the most popular ballroom in KC. The doors opened on December 16, 1927 at 31st & Gillham Plz. On opening night, the doors swung open for a gala that the Coon-Sander’s Night Hawks. “Rough walls of the ancient mission style, arched and dim promenades, orchestra members clad as gay dons, a ceiling of glimmering stars and flowing clouds in dim glow, and Spanish music complete the illustration.”[1] The El Torreon could hold a maximum of 2,000 couples on the ballroom floor.

From 1927-1933 Phil Baxter and the El Torreon Orchestra were the home entertainment every night. This also was the closing and opening act to the El Torreon’s schedule. Some other great artist who played here regularly was Bennie Moten, Andy Kirk with his Twelve Clouds of Joy and Clarence Love. The Majestic ballroom celebrated their rich history here in the late 1920s and 1930s extended engagements from Cab Calloway and the Alabamians. The building was converted to a Avalon Supper Club in 1936. After many years of the finest jazz music in Kansas City, the club converted into a Roller Rink in the 1960s until the early 70s. By then the El Torreon had been reclaimed by Rock and Roll, Hardcore, Punk, and Ska. Renaming the building as the Cowtown Ballroom. From then on this Dance hall over took the hearts of the crowds lined in front of the Ballroom with artist such as Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Van Morrison, Hot Tuna and John Mayall.[2] In the end the building has since closed and is now resting as a Dance Hall Monument.

Another popular ballroom was the Pla Mor Ballroom, located 3142 Main Street, was part of an entertainment complex that included various activities. It opened in November 24, 1927.[3] It was lavishly decorated with carpets and velour drapes. The dance floor at the Pla-Mor could accommodate for 3,000 dancers. People loved

In June 1957, the dancers of the Pla-Mor had their last big dance the music drifted from the backstand smoothly and the dancers were happy” but that was the last time the chandeliers changed the colors and the dancers were saddened.

The Pla-Mor was then converted into the seventh largest bowling alley in the nation.[4]In 1966 the Pla-Mor was up for grabs. The selling of the Pla-Mor was a very sad thing for the people that used to attend the venue. It is hard for people to accept that a place that they once cherished is in such ruins it is now! In 1970 the building became Freedom Palace, a rock venue that featured national touring acts including the Who and Canned Heat. The Pla-Mor was demolished March 31, 1972.[5]

 

 

[1] 1927, Kansas City News article, Class file

[2]University of Missouri-Kansas City. “El Torrean Ballroom.” El Torrean Ballroom. http://library.umkc.edu/spec-col/club-kaycee/JAZZSPOT/eltorr00.htm (accessed April 22, 2014).

[3]Frank Driggs and Chuck Haddix, Kansas City Jazz: From Ragtime to Bebop – A History (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 59-61.

[4]Rick Montgomery & Shirl Kasper, Kansas City: An American Story (Kansas City, MO: Kansas City Star Books, 1999), 196.

[5] 1927, Kansas City News article, Class file