Retro Charlotte

El Morocco Supper Club

“Formerly with Fitch’s Bandwagon”! 1946
“Formerly with Fitch’s Bandwagon”! 1946 The Charlotte Observer

The El Morocco Supper Club opened on Wilkinson Boulevard (“on the outskirts of the city”) in 1946 and offered live music, dinner and dancing. At some point the club moved to a new location on Orr Road where it operated until the 1970s.

Here’s an October 1946 Charlotte Observer story about the grand opening - then be sure to click through the slideshow at the bottom.

El Morocco’s Opening Set

Charlotte’s Newest Night Club Will Greet Public Tonight at 6 O’Clock

Charlotte’s newest night club, El Morocco, advertised as the finest in the South, has its formal opening tonight at 6 o’clock, with Buddy Hisey and his orchestra coming here from the Tampa Terrace hotel as the principal entertaining attraction.

The club, on the south side of the Wilkinson boulevard on the outskirts of the city, will be open seven nights a week, from 6 p.m. to 3 a.m.

The club management promises that name bands will play regularly for dancing and that the entertainment at all times will be of high quality. Bill Cartledge is owner-manager of the club.

Done in white stucco, the building, both exterior and interior, is of modernistic design and is entirely fireproof. Appointments are both luxurious and novel.

The ballroom has a seating capacity of about 400 diners. Contrasting with the zebra-striped wall seats in the ballroom are the black walls, and the dance floor in front of the bandstand is of white and black tile blocks, with a dome over it to reflect soft or bright lights in red, white and blue colors.

The front lounge is lavishly appointed, and so is the ladies’ lounge adjoining the ladies’ room, which has walls of deep rose, with a large dressing table. All the appointments are of the most modern type.

About 40 persons will be employed on the staff of the club, said Mr. Cartledge, including Gordon Swisher of Baltimore, veteran caterer, and two chefs. Two photographers will make pictures for delivery the same evening, and a doorman, dressed in an Arabian costume, will be on duty during the entire time the club is open to guests.

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A 1981 Observer article about Charlotte’s gay community said a young man “came to Charlotte in 1951, where ‘the first inkling of any kind of a place for gay people to gather’ was a private party room at the rear of El Morocco.” “Some gays would gather by invitation behind the locked door to a back room of El Morocco, an otherwise straight bar on Wilkinson Boulevard. ‘It was very hush-hush.’”