Friday, January 04, 2013

Retro Friday: The Ambassador Hotel in Its Glory Edition

From 1961: A silent newsreel of Robert Wagner, Natalie Wood, Jerry Lewis and others at a party being held at the late, great Ambassador Hotel. Below, a special treat: In 2003, a few years before the Ambassador was torn down, the Collage Dance Theatre held a performance throughout the hotel. We attended one of the performances, and it was a stunning event, made all the more interesting because it gave us a chance to tour the building. You can read the New York Times article about the event here. And below, here is someone's video highlights of the show:

Here's what Maria wrote about "Sleeping With the Ambassador" for Franklin Avenue in June 2003:

Last night, we attended Collage Dance Theatre's performance at the Ambassador Hotel. When Mike first told me about this event, I thought he said there was a dance at the Ambassador Hotel. He said we should try to go to it since this may be the only chance we could see the interior of this historic hotel (which shut down in 1989).

We weren't expecting much from the evening save for the chance to check out the hotel and maybe take a few pictures. Turns out, the performance was entertaining. A combination of haunting music, athletic dancing and circus-like performances filled the whole night. Everything seemed nostalgic and I was constantly reminded of how grand the Ambassador was in its heyday.

Part of the performance (which took place throughout the hotel) was held at the famed Cocoanut Grove, but it looked nothing like the old glamorous place it once was. The interior is black, much like any stage you would see if you were seeing a small play. It was a little spooky thinking that RFK was shot just next door from that room, as someone from the show told us later.

The evening concluded in the great lobby where the elegance was still evident. This was where Mike turned loco.

I stood, amused, as he turned into a photo maniac trying to get all he can into our little digital camera. The same digital camera that was full of pictures, which we weren't quite sure if we downloaded them yet or not. We quickly deleted photos to make room for some cool Ambassador shots.

As we were leaving the hotel, we followed a group of people going towards the bungalows. Alas, we were quickly turned away by some guy who said that those areas are hazardous. Upon further probing, he said that whoever goes in will get something worse than SARS.

"Asbestos," I said to Mike. Sure enough, the hazard-nazi did admit that there was asbestos in those buildings -- to which we laughed over his dramatics.

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