In early February 1917 the Original Dixieland Jass Band came up from New Orleans for a gig at Reisenweber's on Columbus Circle. Now Reisenweber's was a swell place, catering to the classy trade. It had a thousand employees and a dance floor...no other restaurant had a dance floor. John Reisenweber had inherited his father's tavern on 58th Street and 8th Avenue. He tore it down and put up two buildings: a ballroom and the twelve dining rooms. And so many thought he was taking a huge chance with the upstarts from down south. Perhaps the swells would take offense to the riproarious boys from bayou land. Not to worry, it was a cakewalk all the way. The ODJB stunned them with Livery Stable Blues. Knocked them back with the Dixie Jass One Step. Made them forget their steak dinners with Ostrich Walk, Jazz Me Blues and a skillion others. And at the end flattened them with Tiger Rag. It was the beginng of cabaret nightlife in New York City. But it was the beginng of the end for Reisenweber's. Prohibition killed the beautiful business. The buildings were shuttered in 1922. They stood silently on the site of the original tavern until demolished in the 80's. So whistle a little Tiger Rag whenever you get a chance to stroll by. You can't miss it...58th Street just east of 8th Avenue. Spread the word about what once happened here.
Reisenweber's, Columbus Circle, New York City
Tiger Rag composed by Nick LaRocca.
The tune was first recorded on 17 August 1917 by the Original Dixieland Jass Band for Aeolian-Vocalion Records. Tiger Rag is one of the most recorded jazz songs. You can hear the original recording by pressing...