Image by Geoffrey Dunbar

Apollo Theater – Amateur Night in Harlem

This kind of corny anachronism should draw you to 125th Street in Harlem on a Wednesday night so that you can witness this flashback style talent show where the not so talented are hauled off stage—before they can finish their act—by a shepherd’s hook wielding ‘executioner’. It all happens to the screams, hoots and jeers of an enthusiastic audience that never shows mercy.

The thing is—and this is what you’re hoping to see—some famous entertainers (Ella Fitzgerald, James Brown, Jimi Hendrix, for example) have performed in this show, so you can’t know until you go whether you will be witnessing history being made.

A few years ago I was part of a panel discussion at the Apollo and afterward was allowed to go to the stage right in the backstage area to view the wall of autographs. Wow! The signatures of so many well known Afro-American artist are there all protected with a sheet of plexiglass, but aren’t part of the public tour. If you can finagle your way in, go for it!

The amateur show now has its own season and happens on Wednesdays. Check the website because there are many other events worth noting. I’m looking forward to a couple of upcoming Soul/R&B concerts. I saw Sharon Jones and Charles Bradley (both recently deceased) backed by the Dap-Kings perform there in 2016. What a stirring concert that was.

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Details about this spot



253 W 125th St, New York

Telephone number


Opening Times

Depend on schedule


One ticket: US$ 15


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Last Changed Date: 2016-05-19 11:45:13 +0200 (Thu, 19 May 2016)