South Baltimore's coolest dance spot is the reborn big band area nightclub. LA Niteclub has a raised stage, plenty of seating, and great atmosphere. Dances sponsored by The Bon Temps Relay Social Club. Water, sodas, Gatorade and a full bar are available. Please do not bring your own water. The downstairs is a no smoking area.
History by Louise Vanderbeek:
The LA Nightclub Hall had been vacant for than a dozen years when current owner Jerry Adcock bought it in the Fall of 1999. When the big room opened in 1946, it was called Walnut Grove. The club had a huge walnut on stage, that would open up and a band would be playing inside. The nut motif goes back many years. This was once the sight of The Walnut Springs Hotel, built in 1841, that for decades, was a rollicking resort for gamblers, politicians and picnickers. A stout walnut tree fronted the hotel and a bandstand of sorts was erected in it's branches. The band members would scramble up the boughs and play for open air dances. The tree was cut down in 1916 to make furniture.
When the current building was built in the 1940's, Baltimore nightlife was booming. Most activity was centered around the Old Club Charles on North Avenue and The Chanticlear on Eager Street but the Walnut Grove was bigger than most midtown spots, hosting notable comedians like Harpo Marx and hit parade musical acts such as Tony Pastor and Louis Prima. A News American journalist gushed over the grooves at the Grove calling a visit to The Grove "the nitery thrill of a lifetime". By the spring of 1947, mounting debts drove the Grove into receivership and eventually darkness. The room was revived off and on over the next few years. In the 1950's, it was a country venue called The Hillbilly Nightclub, where Patsy Kline sang and Jimmy Dean performed and ran a radio broadcast where it is rumored that Johnny Cash dropped into for a visit.
The present dance hall is a bi-level room large enough for a crowd of 500 plus people. Located at the end of a long dark hall, vintage recessed lighting lines the ceiling and an illuminated stairway leads to a second floor with a wraparound balcony that overlooks the lower parquet main dance floor. There is a small dance floor on this level. The downstairs main room host the main dance floor, the bandstand backed with silver streamers, and a fully equipped bar and white table clothed round tables circa 1940, encircling the dance floor. An escort service is available to local parking areas.
Band's are hosted twice a month by The Bon Temps Relay Social Club. In the past 6 months, Geno Delafose , Leroy Thomas, Lil' Pookie, Andre Thierry, and Sheryl Cormier have performed here. The next few months will see Roy Carrier, Sean Ardoin and a return of Andre Thierry in August. Dikki Du, Troy Carriers band and Leroy Thomas are on the schedule for the Fall.
Today, The LA Nightclub is one of the centers of zydeco and Cajun music in the Baltimore area. But this venue does have musical history on it's side. As owner Jerry Adcock says, "A lotta famous people played here, there are a lot of entertainment ghosts in that room."