The Apollo Theater: Showtime in Harlem

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The Apollo Theater is “where stars are born and legends are made,” and it’s a great destination for a group night out. Just walking up to this Harlem icon you feel the presence of history. Check out the Harlem Walk of Fame plaques for Aretha Franklin, James Brown, and Michael Jackson, just three of the many stars who launched their careers here. At the entrance you’ll admire the iconic neon of the Apollo sign. Inside is every bit as classic, as you and your friends soak in the ornate balconies and ceilings that attest to over a century of cultural service. The Apollo is far from a museum piece, however, and you’ll be holding tickets to a vital night of Afro-Pop or Latin Jazz or R&B. Of course if you’re here in the right season, you’ll want to target a Wednesday, Amateur Night, a tradition that dates back more than eighty years. You’ll settle into your seats and feel the anticipation as an unknown takes the stage. It may be a singer, a dancer, a rapper, or a comedian, and they may give you the chance to tell your grandkids you were in the audience when a new superstar first appeared. The crowd is knowing and upbeat, providing tons of love if the performance is good, and an equally famous helping of derision if the show is not up to snuff. Another house tradition is a resident Executioner, waiting to sweep off second-rate talent should the boos win out. After all, at the Apollo, it’s “be good or be gone.”

Related: Chef Marcus Samuelsson’s Favorite Places in Harlem

The Apollo Theater

253 W 125th St New York NY 10027

(212) 531-5300

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