The 20 Grand Story
Cal Street Remembers

The Velvelettes
(picture from Motown CD 314549507-2 The Best of the Velvelettes)

In my mind there are very fond memories of the Motown and 20 Grand Night Club experience. 

It was on 14th street, I believe.  We were always chaperoned to the club.

It was a ritual, almost a way of life, for the Motown artists who had a NEW song out, to immediately do a record hop in the 20 Grand Ballroom to promote our product to the young people (ages 16-20), who were primarily high school and post high school.  

Sometimes we went a few times a month to promote the same recent release.  The 20 Grand was "the place" where the dancers and fans just hung out EVERY Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights in Detroit.  It was almost mandatory that we go there - no questions asked - and lip sync to our
record - to a full house usually.  It was a very busy place and the young people enjoyed clean fun, dancing and non-alcoholic beverages.

Then there was the more sophisticated 20 Grand adult club, which was connected to the youth ballroom, but you had to be 21 and over to get in there because of the alcoholic beverages.  Bill Kabbush, the owner, and Berry Gordy, were good friends at the time.  Motown
artists and employees would occupy most of the choice seats whenever there was a Motown show going on. 

We'd have a ball.  I would have to literally beg Berry to allow me to tag along with a group of others (who were of age) in those days because I was only 18, 19 & 20 years old (too young to get in on my own).  Berry would always go
through the back door with his party of people and I was sandwiched between a few of the legal aged guests to get in. 

The 20 Grand was a mainstay in the Detroit area for many years.  It was "the place" to go to promote your record release.  As a teenager (at the time), I felt SO VERY IMPORTANT and significant whenever I had the opportunity to go there!!!!

Then there were the actual Motown shows!! Every month two of Motown acts would headline the adult club and played to "standing room only" crowds.  Lines would be wrapped around the block in winter, spring, summer and fall to see a Motown production.

The same was true for the big Motown Revues at the Fox Theatre!  People came out in droves to see the shows!!

The Detroit audiences LOVED the Motown shows and revered every act!  I can remember going there with Berry Gordy & Co., to see a young 20 something year old Aretha Franklin!!!  Wow!  I was in Heaven.  I ALWAYS admired her recordings and loved her voice!!! She was my heroine songstress in the late 60s and early 70s.

Notes thanks to Cal Street, Lead Singer of The Velvelettes



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