Paris Inn – Downtown Los Angeles – April 14, 1937 – KNX Radio – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
To everyone who lives in L.A. and who complains about the current state of nightlife here, often bemoaning how it was much better between 1990 and 2000 than it is now. And to those who complained about the state of L.A. nightlife in the 1990s, bemoaning how it was much better in the 80s – or the 80s bemoaning the 70s – all the way through just about every decade where Los Angeles figured somewhere in the grand scheme of going out, getting crazy, howling at the moon or falling in love – can you imagine what it was like say, 82 years ago, around 1937?
I say that because, by all accounts and with evidence to cast light – the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s were pretty wild times for going out and raising mayhem in L.A. – probably because drinking became legal again, with Prohibition being a thing of the past, and with that, nightclubs sprang up all over Southern California (and in fact, the country) from just about 1932 on – so competition was fierce. Subsequently, a quiet evening out was not in the cards for most people. Instead, everything from floorshows to big bands to Aquacades to circuses all against the backdrop of more and more outlandish venues housing these spectacles which had become the norm, rather than the exception to going out at night.
So this program, emanating from the Paris Inn restaurant in what was then known as L.A.’s Latin Quarter (around the block from City Hall where what is now Parker Center exists), came a nightly show featuring singing waiters, singing bartenders, singing cashiers, singing hat and coat-checkers – the pre-requisite for getting a job working at the Paris Inn was that you had to sing; often and often Operatic.
During various stages in the life of this establishment, radio broadcasts were made weekly as a way of luring in customers, if there were any living in the Los Angeles area who were not already familiar with the place, to come visit and “join in”. Several radio stations carried the program from its beginning in 1923, but the show landed on KNX in 1937 and The Paris Inn became a show aired over the CBS Pacific Coast Network.
To get some idea of what it nightlife was sounding like, living in Los Angeles in the relatively quiet and somewhat sparsely populated 1930s, here is a broadcast from The Paris Inn over KNX, from April 14, 1937.
You may not want to jump up and start singing, but it may cause you to wonder about The Paris Inn and what happened to it during the years following.