Closing Down the Carlton Cafe with a Big Shindig (1928)

 The new Carlton Cafe was years ahead of its time according to Whitey Smith who writes about it in his memoir I Didn’t Make a Million. Located on Bubbling Well Road where the Grand Theater stands today, it boasted a huge ballroom and dining hall. This article in the China Press captures the final days of the Carlton before it went under. Jack Carter and Lavada Snow and dancer Bo-Diddly are the stars of the show.

 Last Revel Is Held In Famous Carlton Cafe: Noted Amusement Center Closes, May Be Remodel

The China Press Sept 2,1928;

When the music died in the Carlton Cafe at an early hour this morning, this famous amusement resort so widely known throughout the Far East and always one of the cynosures for tourists from abroad, had witnessed what will probably be its last revel. The happy days of the Carlton, which reigned for so long as Shanghai’s most luxurious downtown cabaret are ended.

Jack Carter and Lavada Snow and Bo-Diddly did their best to entertain the crowds there last night, a crowd that was much larger than the usual Saturday night throng of revelers, but for once they were unable to get the usual responsive kick out of their audience. This crowd which was so swelled by the very fact that this was the last night of the old Carlton ball-room as a cabaret, could not escape a feeling of depression at the thought of its beautifully curved balcony being torn down, its gilded and pointed walls disappearing in debris. For the Carlton was one spot that in the early days of cabaretdom had helped to make Shanghai what it was. To the Carlton is due the credit for putting on the first Russian dancers to be imported here after the Revolution on a large scale. Many another lavish entertainment has brought most of the community within its glass porticos at one time or another.

To all rumors as to what was to become of the Carlton, Mr. Bari the manager, issued a smiling denial last night. One rumor was to the effect that it would be torn down to make way for an entirely new building, with offices and a theater. Another suggestion is that it will merely be remodeled into a cinema. But that it is closing as a cabaret Mr. Bari regretfully admitted. The Palais de Dance, however, he said, would continue indefinitely as at present.

Last night’s final whirl, too, was in the nature of a farewell for Jack Carter and his band. Carter, who has become one of the mot popular entertainers ever to lead Shanghai crowds in a frolic, is leaving shortly for a tour south that will Include visits to Hongkong, Manila, Java, Singapore and other ports.