Dreamland Ballroom was the site of an Arkansas Life photo shoot several weeks ago for an article featuring Arkansas’ top “Creatives.” The resulting photos are a sight to behold!
Editor Katie Bridges wrote:
I’ve said “I can’t believe I never knew that place existed!” countless times this month. Innumerous. In fact, I’m fairly certain my colleagues’ eyes must be rolling as they read this.
“That place” I’ve been referring to is the storied Dreamland Ballroom, tucked away (and currently undergoing renovation) on the third floor of Arkansas Flag and Banner’s storefront on Ninth street in downtown Little Rock. Built in 1918, it once played host to such soul-stirring greats as Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong (!) and Etta James. I could wax poetic about its peeling paint and plaster- clad in corals, cobalts, goldenrods– its graceful, sloping ceiling. It’s diamond-patterned reliefs. Its ability to transport you back in time, imagining yourself lost in Satchmo’s trumpet, Ray Charles’ piano.
After climbing the rickety wooden staircase that leads to the Ballroom on our first scouting mission, we knew we’d found our location for this month’s “Style Setters” shoot. I have to admit, that initial gut reaction was based purely on aesthetics (the light! the texture!). But the more time we spent there, and the more I got to know the ridiculously talented creatives we profiled, I drew a deeper connection between the space and our subjects.
What resonated during my conversations with our Style Setters is that Arkansas– though often overlooked as a place for cutting-edge design and high fashion–is one heck of a place to be a designer. Or an architect. Or a curator. Its mix of open-arms hospitality and enthusiasm for potential has nurtured an environment that’s ripe with opportunity. If you take the time to get to know the place, you’ll find a hidden gem, overflowing with creativity and poised for possibility.
Climb up the staircase, and you’ll see.