Dance Like Everyone’s Watching: Friends’ fancy footwork highlight of fundraiser

By Helaine R. Williams
Arkansas Democrat Gazette

A troupe of Irish dancers stole the show, and the trophy, at the eighth annual Dancing Into Dreamland. The event, hosted by the Friends of Dreamland, was held on Nov. 3 in the ballroom, part of Taborian Hall Museum in Little Rock.

A silent auction kicked off the evening. Board member Ryk St. Vincentand event founder Kerry McCoy made opening remarks before yeilding the mics to KTHV’s Craig O’Neill and Adam “Poolboy” Dunaway of KLAL, “Alice” 107.7.

Sarah and Rick Pinedo, 2016 winners, performed an exhibition tango just before competition began. The O’Donovan School of Irish Dance stole the competition with its fancy footwork. Fan favorites were students from Shuffles and Ballet II, performing a musical-theater routing to “Shoeless Joe.”

Other contestants included Megan Walker and Micah McClung, who danced the Lindy Hop. Five-year-old Nora Robertson and her adult partner, Daniel Felts, performed an East Coast Swing routine. New Creation Dance Co. did a bit of dance-versus-viloin performance art. Ziege Morehart and Devin Conyer, brought the bolero. Kim and Mike Nelson got the crowd engaged with “their own brand of sexy dance” (complete with jungle costumes); Abby Robertson and Daniel Felts chose a little cha-cha.

Judging the contest were David Miller – Swingin’ Down the Lane radio-show host – and recipient of a special award of the night for his long time participation in the contest. Also judging were Anna Kimmel, Arkansas Reparatory Theatre director of education; and restaurateur Amy Kelley Bell of South on Main. Guests texted their votes at the end of the competition segment.

Proceeds will go toward an elevator for the Dreamland Ballroom, the site of big-name concerts for black audiences during the days of Jim Crow segregation. The ballroom was featured in the regional Emmy Award Winning documentary Dream Land: Little Rock’s West 9th Street.

See photos from the event here:


Eating an Elephant (Originally published Feb/March 1992.)

Eating an Elephant
McCoy taker Taborian Hall one bite at a time

By Linda Caillouet
The Chronicle – Historic Preservation News
Vol. 19, No. 1 – February-March 1992

The original article.

For the past two years Kerry Thompson-McCoy has watched the weather more closely than ever before.

The reason? A dilapidated old red brick building, sans roof, known as Taborian Hall, that she purchased two years ago for $20,000.

“I drove by there every day thinking, I’ve got to get this started, I’ve got to get going,” the 37-year-old North Little Rock native said. “I’d watch more glass come out of the windows and I’d watch more roof cave in…nobody knew the weather as well as I did.”

The elements took their toll on the historic Ninth Street building. The three-story, circa 1917 building suffered the most damage when the roof caved in during an ice storm two years ago. “It’s in terrible shape. “There’s no structural problems but a lot of interior damage,” McCoy said.

But beauty is in the eye of the beholder. “I saw it on TV and thought, “I’d love to own a building like that,” McCoy recalled.

Taborian Hall, also known as Taborian Temple, was originally building lIttle Rock’s black business district to serve as the home of the Knights and Daughters of Tabor, a black fraternal organization.

McCoy, the owner of Arkansas’ Flag and Banner, is renovating the building and will relocate her business there.

But when the estimated cost of the project rose from $100,000 to $150,000 McCoy started to lose hope.

“About that time I decided to just throw in the towel and forget about it. I had been working on it for years and got sick of it,” she recalled. “Then I’d go home and think, “Where else am I going to get a building like that for that price with that location?”

So after securing financing from Twin City Bank, she decided to stick with her original plan to consolidate her business’s warehouse and manufacturing departments on the first floor of the old building, situation next to Interstate 630. Her deadline for completion is March 1992.

The second and third floors will be boarded up. “We hope to grow up to it. As money becomes available, we’ll move all the way up to the top,” McCoy said.

And McCoy’s company, currently house in an 1890s Victorian cottage is on the upswing, doing business both nationally and internationally.

“I always saw Arkansas’ Flag and Banner in a red brick, artsy building where we could throw the windows open on a spring day. I just could not see us, as casual as we are and as creative as we are, working in an aluminum building, in cubicles and not being able to see out, and trying to be creative,” she said.

According to McCoy, the back of the building, to the north, was the original struction, built in the late 1800s. The side facing the interstate was added in 1971.

The most well known feature of Taborian Hall is the third-floor Dreamland Ballroom with its hot pink walls. In the ‘30s, some greats who graced the stage included Cab Calloway, Louis Armstrong, Count Basie and Duke Ellington.

Today the building’s interior paint is faded and peeling and some of the wall plaster is gone. It will all remain that way.

McCoy is planning a preservation rather than a restoration. “I’m leaving it all…all the exposed brick and chipping plaster. It will be a like a warehouse. It’ll be great. People will say ‘this must have been a great place when … “‘

The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982 and McCoy says she had two choices: To leave it as she found it or return it to its original condition. “You can go back and actually replaster all the walls perfectly and take it back to the way it used to be, which is outrageous. You can’t afford to do that unless you’ve got $2 million.”

She may not have that kind of money to devote to Taborian Hall, but McCoy has lost her heart to it. “It’s got an energy to it. We went down there to celebrate the new year. You really get caught up in it.”

Even her conservative-minded financial manager, Charles Fisher, loves the building.

“You have to be over there to fall in love with it. I was not for this at first. I’m real conservative and look at everything in the company from the dollar’s point of view. But I knew that we had to move because our company was growing so fast. We needed a larger area. Once I got over there and got to looking at it, I kept thinking … Now I go over there every weekend and in the evenings,” Fisher aid.

And Fisher wasn’t the only one who second-guessed McCoy. “Everyone told me, when I bought the land, to just take my licks and run. I’m so glad I didn’t,” McCoy said, smiling. “They all said, ‘Go to an aluminum building … there’s no surprises. You can get one for $200,00.’”

“But I was thinking, ‘For 50,000 more, I could be in this building and the city is going to give me a $30,000) grant for the facade program.’ So for the same price, we can be in downtown Little Rock in a great old building.”

And she will be soon. Plans include adding a new roof and new third-floor joists and flooring, removing the mildew from the walls, doing plumbing and electrical work on the first floor, replacing broken windows, and repairing the tile hall floor.

“Every wall that wasn’t a load-bearing wall is rotted and falling down so we’re just taking them down. We’ll have all exposed conduit pipes, leave the ceiling rafters exposed, and stain all the wood dark,” McCoy said of the reconstruction.

A for the fixtures: Ceiling fans and hanging fluorescent lights, all easily removable, will be added. “In case we ever want to put in some nicer stuff. But any­thing’s an improvement over what was there.” McCoy said.

Despite the amount of work Taborian Hall needed, McCoy said she was never overwhelmed by the project.

“I think real methodically … step by step. It’s like eating an elephant; you just take it a bite at a time.”

McCoy seems to be a shrewd business­woman too.

“I kept thinking, ‘630, how many cars are driving by a day and can see our big sign out there? What free advertising. “‘

And it’s working. The business’s phone has been ringing off the wall.

“People call us and say. ‘I just wanted to thank you for doing that.’ Isn’t that nice?”

McCoy, who lives in Hillcrest in a 1930s home, is no stranger to downtown. As a single, she rented an apartment in an old house there. Today she ·hares her home with husband Grady and children, Meghan, 12, Gray, 4, and Matthew, I.

“My husband says he’ll kill me if l take him down the tubes with me. I told him we may have to live in it (Taborian Hall) if it doesn’t work out,” he said, smiling.

While today McCoy is cheered, not LOO long ago she was jeered by friends and family. “Everyday that’s all I heard. ‘When are you going to get that roof fixed?’ But now they’re starting to have a little more respect for us.”

Even co-workers teased her. Fisher recounted this tale: “I and someone else from the office were in Mississippi on business. We passed a building down there that was falling down and the roof was half burnt off. We said, ‘let’s stop and take a picture and see if Kerry wants to buy it.”‘

Now McCoy’· friends arc behind her  100 percent, something that is important to her. “If I was restoring a home, it would just be me, my husband and my kids going. ‘Isn’t this fun?’ But the way it is now, there’s a lot of people to share it with.”

Linda Caillouet is a writer for The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Juneteenth Celebration on 9th Street this Saturday, June 20

dreamlandballroom.jpgLittle Rock, Ark., – On Saturday, June 20, 2015 Arkansas’ will join forces with the Mosiac Templars Cultural Center for their celebration  of Juneteenth ,  a holiday that commemorates the announcement of the abolition of slavery in the U.S. state of Texas in June 1865, and more generally the emancipation of African-American slaves throughout the Confederate South. Celebrated on June 19, the term is a portmanteau of June and nineteenth, and is recognized as a state holiday or special day of observance in most states.

Juneteenth is a time for reflection and forward thinking for people all across America. A variety of entertainment is planned for this block party style celebration that has something for everyone. Attendees will find live music, children’s activities, food trucks, non-profits, and vendor booths ranging from clothing to food. More than 1,200 people were in attendance last year with more than 50 participating vendors, performers and sponsors.

Arkansas’ will host two exhibits: The History of the Taborian Hall and the Dreamland Ballroom with the opportunity to enjoy tours of the ballroom. Construction began in 1916 and since then Taborian Hall has been an integral part of the Little Rock African American Culture ever since. The Dreamland Ballroom on the third floor became a popular stop on the famous Chitlin’ Circuit where musical greats such as Ray Charles, B.B. King, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington performed among others. It also has a strong military history as the building served as the USO for African American soldiers during World War II. Currently the Dreamland Ballroom is undergoing further restoration efforts. It is one of the last remaining original ballrooms in America.

The second exhibit is “Old School: Remembering the Brinkley Academy”  visitors will see how a school in rural eastern Arkansas served the needs of African American students who received direction and inspiration for nearly six decades through an exhibit of photographs.

Exhibits open at 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Dreamland Ballroom tours are at 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. and are free to the public. Please note that the ballroom is on the third floor.  Those wishing to tour it should be aware that there is no elevator. Currently the Friends of Dreamland Ballroom are raising funds to have an elevator installed for the disabled. If you would like to make a tax deductible contribution to the Friends of Dreamland Elevator Fund call 501.255.5700 or visit them online at For more information on the Taborian Hall exhibits for the Juneteenth celebration contact .

Archive of Dreamland Ballroom Stories, Photos or Videos on the web


Archives on the web of Dreamland Ballroom: 

Here you will find links to stories, editorials, photos, photographers who have worked in the ballroom, videos taken in Dreamland along with news footage and every link we can find that discusses Dreamland Ballroom. Every one, individual, group, school, organization, business, photographer, bride…whomever you have our deepest gratitude for posting such wonderful things on the internet to show the world about Taborian Hall and her Dreamland Ballroom.


Busy Days, Dreamy Nights: The Taborian Hall

The Taborian Hall and her history


Few people can remember The Line as it once was. During segregation, the part of Ninth Street west of Broadway was the cultural and economic hub of the African American community in downtown Little Rock, Arkansas. Now, the street is populated by vacant lots and relatively new businesses. None of the original buildings remain except for one.

The Line – also known as 9th Street “The Line” also known as West 9th Street


Restoring the Forgotten Dreams of the Taborian Hall

Historically significant building, Taborian Hall saved from destruction

The Taborian Hall is more than monumental; it is a living monument. The grandiose, Classical-style structure was built in 1916. It was part of the African American business district on West Ninth Street in downtown Little Rock, Arkansas, and hosted legendary performers like B.B. King, Ella Fitzgerald, and Louis Armstrong.

The area declined in the 1970s, and most original buildings were torn down. The Taborian Hall was empty and neglected until a local woman resurrected it as headquarters for her business. By doing so, she saved both the building and a part of Little Rock’s history.

Saved by a Woman’s Love

Kerry McCoy in Taborian Hall

Kerry McCoy often passed the ruin and dreamed of running her business, Arkansas Flag and Banner, from such a grand building. Eventually,

she worked up the courage to go inside and made her way to the third floor Dreamland Ballroom. Birds chirped and sun streamed in through a hole in the roof, and, in a moment of euphoria, McCoy saw past the wreckage to the majesty that could resurface.

In 1991, she bought the building and began repairing the roof. After the September 11, 2001 attacks, McCoy opened the first floor to the public and expanded her business to sell patriotic gifts and decorations at Taborian Hall. Although the first two floors were functional, the third floor remained in shambles for a decade after Flag and Banner moved in. Although the Dreamland Ballroom was perhaps the most interesting and historically significant part of the building, the cost of its renovation was prohibitive.


Mosaic Templars MLK Day Challenge at Dreamland Ballroom a Huge Success

Students impress with MLK Day Challenge at Dreamland Ballroom

1530365_10152614458398782_784575582_nLittle Rock, Ark., – Yesterday as part of Martin Luther King Jr. National Day of Service, the Mosaic Templars brought a group of student volunteers to the Dreamland Ballroom (MLK Day Challenge at Dreamland Ballroom), located at 800 West 9th Street on the third floor of the Arkansas’ building.

The group of students brought great attitudes and terrific work ethic along with them, they not only painted the ballroom floor they also cleaned inside and around the outdoor area of the 800 block of 9th Street. Everyone employed at Arkansas’ was greatly impressed by the young people who turned out. These students gave up a day out of school to be a part of the Mosaic Templars MLK Day Challenge at Dreamland Ballroom, though none of them seemed to feel that they were giving up anything. (more…)

3rd annual “Dancing into Dreamland” will be held in the Dreamland Ballroom!

Guests at the 3rd Annual “Dancing Into Dreamland: Dance Contest and Benefit” on November 9, 2012 will experience a magical night on the third floor of the Taborian Hall building at 9th and State Street. The gala, held for the last two years at the Governor’s Mansion, is coming home to the Dreamland Ballroom this year. Recent floor, roof, and balcony renovations made the homecoming possible.

“Dancing into Dreamland” will feature nine dance teams from a variety of genres competing for a $250 cash prize, as well as exhibitions from previous years’ winners. Guests will participate through text voting for their favorite teams to decide the People’s Choice Award, while the 1st Place and cash prize winner will be chosen by a panel of judges.

Judging this year are;
• David Miller, host of the weekly big band radio program, “Swingin’ Down the Lane”,
• Christen Burke Pitts, dance instructor with over 25 years experience.
• Gary Weir, host of TV dance show, “The Good Ole Daze”,
• Rhythm McCarthy, faculty, UALR Theatre and Dance Department.

The event will also offer refreshments, a cash donation bar, live music, open dancing, and a silent auction.
Proceeds from the event will primarily support the education programs of Friends of the Dreamland Ballroom, a non-profit organization that was formed “to celebrate the legacy of the Dreamland Ballroom and the Taborian Hall and bring its history, culture, and community to the people of Arkansas through artistic performance, music education, cultural outreach, and preservation.” Funds will also support ongoing renovations of the Dreamland Ballroom.

The Taborian Hall, which houses the Dreamland Ballroom, was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1982 and is the last building remaining on 9th Street from Little Rock’s “Little Harlem,” the now-vanished center of the city’s black community. Over the decades, the Ballroom hosted performers such as Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, B. B. King, Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, and Ray Charles.

General admission to Dancing into Dreamland costs $50. Tickets can be purchased online at or by calling 501-255-5700.


See below for a full event schedule. For more information, please contact Kerry McCoy, at the information listed above.

Dancing Into Dreamland Dance Contest and Benefit
Sponsored by the Friends of the Dreamland Ballroom
Friday, November 9th, 2012
7:00-10:00 PM

Taborian Hall
800 W. Ninth St.
Little Rock, AR 72201


7:00 – 8:00 Mixer, refreshments, and silent auction
8:00 – 9:00 Dance contest and exhibitions
9:00 – 9:45 Open dancing, judges deliberations and text voting
10:00 Awards ceremony


Stella Boyle Smith Trust
Mainstream Technologies

Robbi Davis Agency
Dance Dynamics
Ken Rash’s Casual Furniture
Dr Gary Harper
Daniel Utilities
Harbor Distributing
Dave’s Place