Burlesque in Nite Clubs | 1930s & 1940s | Omaha, NE

In addition to larger theatres producing stage burlesques, clubs and lounges that served alcohol also began showcasing burlesque and 'exotic' dancers in the 1930s.

The Cloverleaf Club | 119 S. 15th St.

(Clover Leaf Club under The Burlington Trailways. 1937. Bostwick-Frohardt/KM3TV Photography Collection at The Durham Museum Photo Archive)

The Clover Leaf Club opened in 1933 at 119 S. 15th St. Specifically, in the basement of the Burlington Trailways bus building. The club was air conditioned and had nightly floor shows. It was raided by the police several times in 1937/38 for illegal gambling and for featuring drag queens. A brief advertisement of the Clover Leaf Club describes its decor as a “realistic forest glen”, decorated with fake flora and fauna, where patrons could buy sandwiches and refreshments while being entertained. (Omaha World Herald. “Here’s Relief in Sultry August.” July 23, 1933)

The Club is subject to multiple articles in the Omaha newspapers about their 'troubles' with the police and Mayor Butler. The Clover Leaf Club was raided by the police morals squad and two employees were charged with selling liquor after the legal closing hour. The manager was booked as a keeper of a disorderly house when a dice cup was taken as evidence. Three bottles of liquor were also confiscated as evidence. (Omaha Evening Bee News. “Police Again Raid Clover Leaf Club.” January 4, 1937)

The owner of the Clover Leaf Club, Charlie Hutter, sold the club to his friend Fred Barnes for $3,500 and moved to Canada for an “extended vacation.” It didn't skip a beat though! The Club began advertising the same week as 'reopening under new management.' (Omaha Evening Bee News. “Hutter Plans Vacation in Canada.” May 13, 1937)

During the 1930s, Mayor Butler was on a crusade to ‘clean up’ Omaha and its entertainment district. Mayor Butler’s private ‘police force’ raided the Clover Leaf in early September 1938 and arrested 6 entertainers. It's reported that the police had let the show run its course before making the arrests. Two entertainers, Danny Brown and Dion Banner (both named in the papers), were charged with “staging an immodest exhibition.” The four other performers were booked with bans on nude performers or appearing in clothing of the “other” sex. Based off of this evidence, the Clover Leaf Club was definitely hosting shows with burlesque performers and drag queens. (Morning World Herald. “Palmtag Hits at Cloverleaf Club 3d Time; Total of Bonds for Performers is $490; Again a Long Ride.” September 29, 1938)

Following the raid, the Mayor asked the City Council to have a special meeting to revoke the liquor license of the club because of the permanence of shows with female impersonators. The police were working under the orders of the Mayor, who said that Einar Abramson, the manager, had promised no more shows featuring female impersonators, but Abramson ignored this ultimately when the license was renewed. (Evening World Herald. “Jepsen Yields as Palmtag Raids Again; Clover Leaf Inmates Go to South Omaha; ‘Mayor Has Right.’” September 28, 1938)

Welfare Inspector Tom Knapp referred to a troupe of female impersonators, who performed at the Clover Leaf Club earlier that year, as ‘perfectly respectable.’ Mayor Butler, threatened his job and mentioned how the City Council had put in an ordinance prohibiting female impersonation two months earlier. (Evening World Herald. “‘On the Carpet,’ Knapp Denies Clover Leaf O.K.” October 1, 1938)

Four drag queens were arrested at the Club by the police, for Mayor Butler again, in December 1938. The performers were give 15 day suspended sentences and were immediately appealed. (Morning World Herald. “Clover Leaf Case is Ended.” December 16, 1938)

Show Advertisements for the Clover Leaf Club:

(Omaha Morning World Herald. May 7, 1938)
  • St. Patrick’s Frolic on Saturday and Sunday. Sensational New Floor Show starring: (Omaha Evening Bee News. Advertisements. March 15, 1935)
    • Freddy Walker—M.C. Nut
    • “Cookie”
    • Platinum Blonde
    • Peggy Lane
    • Jazzmania Ace
    • Roy Anderson and His 10-piece Orchestra
  • Club Cloverleaf. 70 Degrees at all times. Dance in comfort to Club Clover Leaf Orchestra. Your favorite liquors at moderate prices. No cover or minimum charge. (Omaha Star. July 20, 1935)
  • "Reopening Clover Leaf Club. Under New Management. Ray Dewitt's Synco Hi-Hatters. Excellent Food, specializing in Charcoal broiled stakes. (Omaha Evening Bee News. May 29, 1937)
  • Clover Leaf Club presents, direct from Detroit, the "Original Beef Trust." 2 shows, first show at 10pm. Here They Are In the Gay ‘90s. Tons and Tons of Joy—Singing, Dancing and Rip-Roaring Surprises! (Morning World Herald. Advertisement. May 8, 1938)

 The Clover Leaf Club's liquor license was denied renewal and closed it's doors in 1939.

Larry's Blossom C. Club | 1714 Howard St.

Although I couldn't find a lot on Larry's, a few burlesque shows graced it's stage. Billy Watson's "Beef Trust Revue" performed at Larry's Blossom C. Club in 1944. This show featured "heavies" or women who were considered fat during this time period. (Evening World Herald. “Many Night Spots Planning Celebrations Tonight.” December 30, 1944) The advertisement stated, "The Beef Trust Revue. Featuring Baby Tot, 200lbs—Mama Tot, 400lbs—Papa Tot—WOW! The Three Kewpie Dolls. From the Broadway hit “Hell’s A-Poppin’”, From Mae West’s “Klondike Annie”, Charlie McCarthy’s “Bring on the Girls”, and George Roft’s “Gay Nineties." (Morning World Herald. Advertisement. December 23, 1944)

(Omaha Morning World Herald. December 23, 1944)
(Omaha Evening World Herald. December 15, 1944)

The Paul Spor Club Araby | 18th & Farnam St.

The Paul Spor 'Club Araby' opened in 1932 as an 'exotic and romantic' hideaway, offering dancing, lunch and dinner, and the occasional burlesque show. The club was decorated in the theme of "Arabia" or a Middle Eastern motif. No doubt the owner, Paul Spor, appropriated and made generalizations to decorate the club in the style and decor of multiple groups of diverse peoples and cultures. Club Araby hosted floor shows like "Broadway Revues" and the "Broadway Rockets--All Girl Floor Show."  (Omaha Evening Bee news. Advertisement. January 5, 1933)

(Omaha Evening Bee News. January 5, 1933)
(Omaha World Herald. January 13, 1933)
(Omaha World Herald. March 21, 1933)
The newspaper blurb reads, "Coming here after singing and dancing for a number of weeks in a unit show at the oriental theatre in Chicago, Marjorie Corrington is now filling an engagement for Paul Spor at the Club Araby. Her home is in Lincoln. She has appeared on bills with such celebrities as Fifi D'Orsay and Edmund Lowe."
(Omaha Evening Bee News. January 5, 1933)
Alene Hoover, who was an Omaha resident, was a featured dancer at the Club Araby in January of 1933.

Maple Grove Tavern | 42nd & L St.

One advertisement for a floor show caught my eye for the Maple Grove Tavern. It stated, "The Maple Grove Tavern at 42nd and L Streets. The Gay spot in Omaha! 3 floor shows featuring Fern and Frank Andre, The New Rumba, & Marjorie Peterson, Harlem Dancer. Other Acts including the Veil Dancer. Dancing all night to Troubadour’s Orchestra. No Cover Charge."

(Omaha World Herald. August 1, 1936)

Races Nightclub | 6300 Center St.

The Races Night Club was located at 6300 Center Street. It opened in 1936 showcasing floor shows and chicken and steak dinners. Exotic dancers were also featured occasionally in the floor shows--like La-Zonne in May 1936, Harriet Irgens in July 1936, or Gloria Gayle in November 1938.

(Omaha World Herald. July 13, 1936)
(Omaha Evening World Herald. November 29, 1938)

Show Advertisements at the Races Nightclub:

  • All new Show: Loren Tracy, M.C. “Eats ‘Em Alive.” Honore & Gladise—Latest ballroom dances, Kay Syril—Comedy Trap, La-Zonne—Exotic Dancer, Jane Brewer, Dunny Dunhaver, Carl DeBord—at the 2 grand pianos. Dancing. Chicken and steak dinners. (Omaha World Herald. Advertisement. May 9, 1936)
  • Now playing entire new show direct from Chicago—Held over, George Presnell—M.C. Radio Baritone. Birddie & Billie Carr—Sensational ballroom and acrobatic roller skating act. Harriet Irgens—exotic dancer, charming—and how! St. Claire and Yvonne—20ttht Century Dance Novelty Dance Team. Jane Brewer. Dancing to Dunhaver and his orchestra. Chicken and steak dinners. No cover charge. (Omaha World HErald. Advertisement. July 13, 1936)
  • 3 shows nightly 10:30, 12:30, 3AM. 63rd and Center. The Races Night Club. Now playing new show direct from Chicagao—Francis Elwood, Showmaster, with an all girl floor show. Johnny Carroll’s Orchestra. Jane Brewer, songs you like. Don Davis, baby grand. Marylyn Shall, swing songstress. (Omaha Morning Bee News. Advertisement. January 6, 1937)
  • Now Playing, Final Week: Movie Morrison, Kansas City’s 85 Club Venus of Tap. The 6 Morgan Clowns. Miss Sharon, Pennsylvania’s 4-time beauty contest winner. Bob Randi—master of ceremonies. Jane Brewer—Songs You’ll Like. Johnny Carroll’s swing band music. Check and steak sandwiches, No cover charge. Dancing and 3 shows nightly. (Omaha Morning Bee News. Advertisement. May 6, 1937)
  • The Races: Starting tonight, direct from Chicago, first showing in Omaha. Buddy Lake—sensational master of ceremonies, Alvena—exotic dancer, Roland & Helene—dance specialties, Honey Chile—comedienne, Jane Brewer—Southern Bluebird, Chosen Twins—Clever Tap Artists, Claire Rydel—Voice of the Dance. Johnny Carroll Orchestra. Delicious steaks and chicken dinners. Never a dull moment. 3 shows nightly, dancing. (Morning World Herald. Advertisement. May 7, 1938)
  • The Races Night Club at 6300 Center St. Vaudeville Headline direct from Chicago. Full course steak or chicken dinners from 8 to 10:30pm— $1. New show starting tonight. Pearson Bothers, Rural Fashion Plates and Homespun Dancing. Glamorous Gloria Gayle, Exotic Dancer?? Di Carlo & Du Bois, Stylists of the dance. Walter Thompson, Master of Song and Ceremony Direct from Hollywood’s Cotton Club. Dance to Ray Hummel and his Lucky Strike Hits. 3 Shows nightly. (Evening World Herald. Advertisement. November 29, 1938)

New Modern Club

The New Modern Club was located 'three blocks south Albright Carline on Highway 75' and hosted floor shows featuring blues singers and exotic dancers.

(Omaha World Herald. December 23, 1934)

Show Advertisements for the New Modern Club:

  • All Star floor show featuring Joy Kalese, Dramatist of the Blues, 8 weeks at the Maxine Club, Detroit. Evelyn Meadows, Exotic Dancer Superb. Wayne and Hull, They’re fast and different. Dancing all night at the New Modern Club. Three blocks south Albright Carline on Highway 75. (Omaha World Herald. December 23, 1934)
  • All-star floor show featuring Fern Andra, outstanding impersonator and dancer. 8 Weeks at the Maxine Club, Detroit. Evelyn Meadows, Exotic Dancer Superb. Wayne and Hull, They’re Fast and Different. Dancing All Night. (Omaha World Herald. December 27, 1934)
  • New Modern Club presents another Gala All Star Floor Show. Tomorrow night—twice nightly featuring: St. Clair Sisters—RKO Novelty Dancing Stars, Billy Joy—New York Singing and Dancing, M.C., Singing your favorite songs, Don Marlow. Do you remember this sensational act? As your father or mother. Dancing all nite—no cover or admission charge. Next Week: Emma Prichard, the Heart and Soul of the Blues. (Omaha World Herald. Advertisement. February 23, 1935)
  • New Modern Night Club proudly resents Brand New Show with Al Gault, Maker of Ceremonies, Helen Duvere, Exotic Dancer, Audre Reed, sophisticated singer, Hallie and Lois, Tap and novelty dancers. Three Shows Nightly. (Omaha World Herald. Advertisement. July 31, 1936)

The Music Box |

(Evening World Herald. March 13, 1940)
The Music Box was a club that hosted parties and floor shows. One show advertisement announces Thursday night as 'Stag Night' with Ladies entry at 25 cents and Gentlemen at 35 cents. A stag night traditionally would've been a party for a man who was about to get married. However, this advertisement denotes to a more general meaning of 'stag', that of a girlie show or burlesque show. Men and women were welcome to attend the show.

The Stork Club | 3 Miles East of S Omaha Bridge on Highway 275

The Stork Club held three shows nightly with big bands and singers. In 1942 it hosted Nadja Lawerence, an exotic dancer from Chicago, and Virginia Barry, a 'singer of risqué songs.'

(Omaha Evening World Herald. September 18, 1942)

The Trocadero Club | 20th & Cuming Sts

In the summer of 1940, the Trocadero boasted itself as 'Omaha's Gayest Nite Club' with a new floor show featuring performances by Traynor & Zander.

(Omaha Morning World Herald. August 17, 1940)


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