Today’s the birthday of a lady with panache close to my heart—my mother, JoAnn. In the early 1960’s she owned a nightclub called The Matinee Lounge.
Above: My mother posing on the hood of a customer's car in The Matinee parking lot, circa 1960.
The Matinee was a destination club out in the boonies, as the advertisement below said—“Just drive out west...until you run out of gas.” It was a stand-alone building in the middle of nowhere, west of Denver, going towards the mountains.
Above: An old newspaper advertisement, it was very faded and I tried to darken it so the type is more legible. The tagline "The poor man's Belmont" is in reference to another niteclub/lounge that was downtown at an upscale hotel.
The Matinee was torn down years ago—I think it’s an office park now. People went there because of my mom’s personality, and the vibe she created at the club. The Matinee was fun, warm, elegant, and a bit glamorous—just like my mom.
Above: The "uniform" dress my mother is wearing in this photo is very “Moulin Rouge,” with layers of pink and amber velvet. She had them made for the staff, and years later her dress became a regular Halloween costume for the girls in my family.
My mother was one of those ladies with panache that lit up a room. All of the gentlemen customers had a crush on her (including my dad), and all of the ladies wanted to be her friend. When my parents got married, her club ownership days ended, but they still shared a love for jazz (read here). Years later, when we would attend bars and clubs together, she would critique the establishment, usually about how they were losing money and not properly managed.
Above: A worn yellow matchbook, with silver foil printing. The tagline makes me laugh—"Where smart people meet."
She was a night bird that loved parties. Running a club suited her personality well—it was like hosting a party every night. My mother had a big heart, and everyone felt like she was their best friend.
Above: My mother (center) behind the bar.
The club’s exterior was painted pink, and the inside was 1960’s “Las Vegas” lounge style—dark-but not too dark, a circular bar, with tables and booths. Some evenings there would be live music and dancing—coats and ties were required for the gents. In the summertime she would make mint juleps with the mint that grew outside, behind the bar.
Above: My mom (at right) posing and having a laugh with the girls.
Her staff was all ladies, and many became life-long friends. My mom designed the uniforms, and frequently changed them up—sometimes dresses, other times Capri pants and blouses...whatever inspired her. She would buy apparel items, or sketch out outfits she had in mind, and have her tailor custom make "uniforms".
My mom and Nancy, a life-long friend of my mother’s—and one of the last gals still around from The Matinee, besides my mom.
Above: An old polaroid of my mother posing atop a booth at JoAnn's Matinee Lounge. I sort of like the the gold patina over the photo, from the old chemicals in the polaroid.
My mother was very particular about the atmosphere of the club, and how the drinks were made—both had to be perfect. She would appreciate the new generation of “mixologists” who strive to craft the perfect cocktail.
Above: Stag sandwiches for $1.00!
If you have a cocktail this weekend, a coat and tie isn't required (but nice), make a toast to the previous generations of cocktail aficionados. I'll be toasting my mom!