Chapter Five: Cafe Society
(In Depression-era Manhattan, Sullivan was an influential gossip columnist, chronicling the lives of the smart set. This chapter describes his experiences as a New York Daily News columnist.)
The milieu known loosely as café society was a glittering alloy of screen and stage performers, radio personalities, star athletes, debutantes, musicians, old money socialites, press agents, promoters, and producers; those who were talented and those who wanted to associate with the talented. Despite the Depression, café society rubbed elbows nightly in 1930s Manhattan. Its gathering places were nightclubs like the Colony, El Morocco, Dave’s Blue Room, The Hollywood, and, foremost, the Stork Club, nightspots where entrance alone – if you could get past the doorman – would set you back five or even ten dollars.
This gathering of the beautiful and the lucky was a living incarnation of what moviegoers paid two dimes to see on screen in the 1930s: cool glamour, light conversation attended by chilled champagne, romances begun while foxtrotting to elegant orchestra music. That right outside the door the unemployment rate was twenty-five percent made this privileged party seem closer to dreamscape than reality.