Peppermint Lounge – New York, New York

Peppermint Lounge – New York, New York

Peppermint Lounge - New York, New York

The Peppermint Lounge was located at 128 West 45th Street in New York. Although it was only opened for seven years (1958-1965), the Peppermint Lounge birthed the Twist, the massive dance craze of the early 60s, and several radio hits.

The following paragraph comes from the wonderful Gender Variance Who’s Who (https://zagria.blogspot.com/2019/11/#.YP7xukxOlaQ) and does a fantastic job of summarizing the demise of the Peppermint Lounge

Peppermint Lounge - New York, New York

The ground floor premises at128 West 45th Street had been licensed on numerous occasions since 1934. Over the years there had been numerous arrests of gay men, and citations for disorderly premises and Administrative Code violations. The NY State Liquor Authority had stated that no renewal was to be issued for 1959 until a bona fide buyer took over. It was then rented to 128 Restaurant Inc, and the owners of record were Ralph Saggesse and Orlando Grippo. In reality they were employed by Sam Konwiser who ran businesses for Johnny Biello, a capo in the Genovese crime family.

The Peppermint Lounge opened in 1958. It had a lengthy mahogany bar running along one side, lots of mirrors and a dance floor at the back, a capacity of just 178 people. There was a back door into the Knickerbocker Hotel Lobby. Johnson et al describe the hotel at that time: it “rented as many rooms by the hour as they did to the luckless out-of-towners, the unemployed and those only a week away from living on the streets”.

The Peppermint Lounge was mainly a gay bar. The major dance craze 1960-1 was the Twist. Much to the surprise of Johnny Biello, this became associated with the Peppermint Lounge, and celebrities, especially Hollywood stars, flocked there to do the dance, and to be photographed doing it. The house band was Joey Dee and the Starlighters. Jackie Kennedy arranged for a temporary ‘Peppermint Lounge’ in the White House. A sister club was opened in Miami Beach. Gays and lesbians liked the dance because it did not necessarily require a partner, and if dancing with a same-sex partner when the police raided, one could spin around to face a partner of the other gender. It is said that (female) go-go dancing (alone on a raised platform for others to watch) originated at the Peppermint Lounge.

Peppermint Lounge - New York, New York

In 1965 the New York State Liquor Authority revoked the Peppermint Lounge’s liquor license. This was upheld in the state Supreme Court. The club closed in December 1965.

Peppermint Lounge - New York, New York

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