Apollo Theater


Apollo Theater
253 W. 125th St.
Manhattan, NY 10027
Harlem


Advertisement

Harlem’s famous Apollo Theater is important not only because it honors and promotes the contributions of black American performers, but also because it is a living example of progress: The building was originally a burlesque theater that did not allow black patrons. Visit the Apollo for an Amateur Night, which started the careers of so many legends—including Ella Fitzgerald—or take a historical tour of the building.

This world-famous theater is one of Harlem’s most beloved attractions, best known for showcasing African-American performers. The landmark 1,500-seat venue took on its current identity in 1934; in the years since, performers who have taken its stage include legends like James Brown, Michael Jackson and B.B. King. One of its defining events has long been Amateur Night, now taking place on Wednesdays throughout much of the year, during which entertainers try to impress the tough audience. Those who make the cut often go on to greatness—think Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Wonder.

Photo: Joe Buglewicz
Advertisement

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the Amateur Night audience protocol? Audiences are the talent judges here. If someone doesn’t like the performance, that person boos. If others join in and the booing coalesces into a movement, a comedian nicknamed the Executioner comes onto the stage to remove the performer (but not, we hasten to clarify, to execute them).

Can I audition for Amateur Night? Yes, you can. The Apollo hosts auditions in NYC several times a year. You can also try out for the show by submitting a Vimeo or YouTube video of your performance. Check the venue’s website for audition info.

Has anyone recovered from a rough Amateur Night? Yes, Dave Chappelle and Lauryn Hill among them.

What else is going on at the Apollo? The theater has a second stage, called Soundstage, which hosts an ongoing music café and a comedy series.

Features

  • Historic Sites & Landmarks
  • Comedy
  • Live Music
  • Comedy
  • Dance
  • Cultural & Theme Tours
  • Cultural Tours

Related Events

As Seen In...

New York City in One Day

Itineraries
NewYorkCityinOneDay

See the essential sights of NYC in one day.

Must-See Harlem

Things to Do
Must-SeeHarlem

Historic music venues, a wealth of cultural institutions and world-class dining make Harlem a must-see destination.

Destination Harlem: Apollo Theater

Nightlife
DestinationHarlem:ApolloTheater

About the Apollo Theater: Harlem's acclaimed Apollo Theater is important not only because it honors and promotes the contributions of black performers but also because it is a living example of progress: the building was originally a burlesque theater that did not allow black patrons or performers. While you're in the neighborhood: Legendary Harlem eateries and music clubs are within walking distance of the neighborhood's biggest symbol, the Apollo Theater. Make the short walk south to a few worthy places for an after-dinner (or -show) drink.

Take a Tour: Hush Hip Hop Tours

Tours
TakeaTour:HushHipHopTours

Obsessed fans and new recruits will love this whirlwind tour through the genre's NYC roots.


Advertisement

From Our Partners

More In Arts & Culture

You may also like...