[Dixielandjazz] Vegas segregation - Was BG in Vegas

Larry Walton Entertainment - St. Louis larrys.bands at charter.net
Tue Nov 20 12:47:14 PST 2007

I have no doubt that what you say is entirely accurate but my point was that 
it's not strictly a race thing.  I am good friends who was the CEO of a 
major company.  He retired on a quarter mil a year plus a big severance 
package.  This guy could buy my house and hire me for the next couple of 
years on pocket change alone yet the CC's are equal opportunity snobs.

I am aware that "some" musicians break the "hired help" barrier but they are 
not that many and personally I don't know any.  That is accepted because 
they are great musicians.

One of the Leaders (who happens to be a jerk) is a dentist and is pretty 
much full of himself.  He has a lot of issues with these people and demands 
things just for the confrontation I think.  A couple of years ago on NYEve 
he had a big snit over being served food at the party.  He just can't accept 
that these people think of him as hired help.  I guess he should carry his 
diploma with him around his neck.
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Steve Barbone" <barbonestreet at earthlink.net>
To: "DJML" <dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com>; <larrys.bands at charter.net>
Sent: Tuesday, November 20, 2007 1:16 PM
Subject: Vegas segregation - Was BG in Vegas

> Oops, sorry about the blank reply, Larry.
> Yes, I hear you. Many of us journeymen musicians are still treated like 
> dirt
> in the "upscale" venues. I and some of my colleagues try our best to avoid
> playing in those places. <grin> And personally, I find that with just my
> clarinet case, I have been able to access the front doors anywhere. But 
> not
> always the bassist or the drummer because of the equipment. Major stars 
> like
> say, Brubeck, or Alicia Keyes are welcomed to enter via the front doors
> anywhere, and are encouraged to mingle with the guests. It is good 
> business.
> In the BG Vegas case, the white entertainers we allowed to enter via the
> front doors, and were allowed to stay at the hotels. They were also
> encouraged to mingle because they were the "Stars", the draw, etc. Blacks
> were not allowed to the same courtesy until Lena Horne and then Sammy 
> Davis
> Jr., broke the color barrier.
> In Las Vegas, up until the 1960s, Black entertainers like, Pearl Bailey 
> and
> Nat King Cole could perform on stage, but could not stay, eat or gamble in
> the all-white casino resorts. Or enter through the main entrance. Worse 
> yet,
> if a black person happened to get into a resort swimming pool, white 
> people
> left, and the pool was drained and re-filled. Lena Horne was an exception.
> In 1947 Singer Lena Horne told Flamingo owner "Bugsy" Siegel that she 
> either
> stays in the hotel as a guest or she won't perform there. She was allowed 
> to
> stay but her linens, changed daily, purportedly are burned. She 
> subsequently
> refused to perform in Vegas if she could not stay in the hotel as a guest
> and was allowed that "privilege" at other hotels, basically because she 
> was
> a GREAT draw, setting attendance records. (money talks)
> Sammy Davis, Jr. and his famed Will Maston Trio were by 1953, headlining
> shows on The Strip. And in 1955, he was exempted, like Horne from the no
> blacks rule in the hotel where he was performing, because of Sinatra's
> influence. But, it wasn't until 1959 that Sammy re-broke the color barrier
> on a larger scale, thanks to his fellow Rat Pack buddies Frank Sinatra, 
> Dean
> Martin, Joey Bishop and Peter Lawford. The Rat Pack had been filming 
> Oceans
> Eleven and was the focus of world-wide attention. Led by Sinatra and
> followed by a contingent of news photographers, the celebrities made the
> rounds of casinos after their nightly shows. If a casino declined to allow
> entry to Sammy Davis, Jr., Sinatra passed the word that none of the others
> would go in either. Casinos relented to avoid any bad publicity.
> Then in early 1960, the NAACP threatened a march on the strip and the 
> result
> was the beginning of Vegas' total desegregation. The hotels slowly backed
> down. Tropicana, Desert Inn and The Stardust were the first to come to 
> terms
> It wasn't until the mid-1960s that the Las Vegas Strip and downtown casino
> resorts and hotels fully desegregated, permitting Blacks to get jobs as 
> card
> dealers. Discrimination in hotels and casinos was officially ended by 
> Nevada
> statute in 1971.
> This type of Hotel discrimination against blacks was wide spread during 
> the
> 1950s, from coast to coast. If you were a black musician, and driving 
> cross
> country for gigs, you had very little choice of where to stay overnight.
> Almost all hotels en route would have refused accommodations, except those
> in black neighborhoods, if any, or private houses.
> Cheers,
> Steve Barbone
> Larry Walton Entertainment - St. Louis at larrys.bands at charter.net wrote:
>> ..... he was told that he couldn't enter the hotel by the front
>> doors, only through the back.
>> And between shows, he had to stay in a back room. No "mixing" with the
>> guests...... Benny would not allow a star of his band to
>> be restricted in such a demeaning way.
>> ___________________________________
>> You don't have to be black to be treated this way.  The key word is
>> musician.  In the past 10 years things have been different more or less.
>> The country clubs still really don't want you coming in the front and
>> mingling with the guests while not prohibited isn't encouraged either. 
>> The
>> MAC club in downtown St. Louis wants you to go in the back and not use 
>> the
>> guest elevators and they provide a break room.  No one jumps in the way 
>> if
>> you do come in the front but knowing how they are from past experience I
>> know what's expected.
>> Most of the guys that play CC's here don't really mingle with the guests.
>> The point is that it's not just a black and white thing but a hired help
>> thing.  If you are hired help you aren't a guest and that's pretty simple 
>> so
>> if they don't want to serve you at the bar or give you a break room or 
>> enter
>> in the back it isn't a race thing.  It's like the TV series Upstairs
>> Downstairs.  There is a distinction made.  If they are paying you then 
>> you
>> are hired help and hired help are not guests.
>> Personally I think some of these things are rude but there is no problem 
>> as
>> long as "you know your place".
>> Most of this junk is going by the wayside and that's good but looking at 
>> it
>> from their point of view who wants some guy with a cart full of stuff to
>> come through the guests and crowd up the elevators or block a front door
>> while they unload.  After all they do owe more to their guests than to us
>> hired help.
>> I know that a lot of you don't see yourselves as hired help.  I work
>> occasionally with two guys that could buy and sell most of the C Club 
>> set.
>> I suspect that they don't really see themselves as that but when they are
>> working they are hired help.
>> Some people are just too quick to take offense.
>> Thanks for the interesting piece.

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