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“Dream Land: Little Rock’s West 9th Street”

Once a vibrant, African-American business and entertainment district, Little Rock’s West 9th Street was a cultural epicenter and home to Taborian Hall and the Dreamland Ballroom. In AETN original documentary film “Dream Land: Little Rock’s West 9th Street,” viewers will have a unique opportunity to explore the street’s glory days and how Urban Renewal, the Eisenhower Interstate Program and other federal programs influenced its future.

Told by local residents and historians, “Dream Land” seeks to recognize, memorialize and share the significant past of the once thriving West 9th Street, tracing the area’s evolution from its origins in the 1800s to present day.

Historic Photo of Taborian Hall

The only remaining historic structure on the street, Taborian Hall, stands as a living witness of the community’s former grandeur. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, Taborian Hall housed varied and important black businesses, including professional offices, a USO, the Gem Pharmacy and the Dreamland Ballroom.

Historic Dreamland Ballroom Ad

By the 1930s, the Dreamland Ballroom was nationally recognized and host to musicians, dances, socials, concerts and sporting events as a stop on the “Chitlin Circuit.” The popular club showcased regional and national African-American bands and stage shows, including luminaries such as Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Little Richard, B.B. King, Etta James, Ray Charles, Count Basie and more.

In addition to covering the heights of West 9th Street’s glory, the documentary also explores its transition and the impact federal programs — such as Urban Renewal, school desegregation, the Housing Act of 1949 and the Eisenhower Interstate Program — made on the district.

Dreamland Ballroom Reenactment

Though little remains of the street’s former glory today, “Dream Land” seeks to revive the memory of this extraordinary portion of Arkansas history, sharing the stories of the entrepreneurs and patrons who built the district. To help bring the Dreamland Ballroom back to life, the documentary also features special reenactments by Rodney Block and The Real Music Lovers, Bijoux, Detroit Johnny, Jazz R Us and dancers from the Tidwell Project, among others.

“Dream Land: Little Rock’s West 9th Street” will premiere on AETN Thursday, April 6, at 7 p.m. and repeat Monday, April 17, at 9 p.m.

A special preview screening of the film will be offered Friday, March 31, at the CALS Ron Robinson Theater in partnership with Arkansas Sounds Music Series. The screening is free and open to the public, however, seating is limited. Register to reserve your seats for the event now at: to.aetn.org/DreamLandPreviewScreeningTickets.

TUNE IN:

“Dream Land: Little Rock’s West 9th Street”

Thursday, April 6, at 7 p.m.
Monday, April 17, at 9 p.m.

JOIN US:

Friday, March 31, at 7 p.m.

“Dream Land: Little Rock’s West 9th Street” Preview Screening

CALS Ron Robinson Theater
100 River Market Ave., Little Rock

Reserve seats here.

LEARN MORE:

“Dream Land: Little Rock’s West 9th Street”