A Bitter Sweet History
by Christian Perez
Sweets Ballroom was built in 1920 by William Sweet, he and his brother ran a few ballrooms. Sweets Ballroom was the only one able to survive. Sweets Ballroom was a huge success during the big band era and when Jazz and Swing was King. This was in a way miraculous because Americans were very segregated at the time. African Americans and Latinos were not seen as normal humans, but when they began to create beautiful music they developed a following from all corners of American Society.
Music helped blur the color lines and allowed different races to work together, all though not completely. It did set the stage for Civil Rights and peace between communities. Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong were one of the two biggest influential Icons in Music, not only beloved here in America but around the world. They opened people’s eyes and entertained millions, Sweets ballroom also had venues for Latinos. Guadalupe Carlos, held events on Sunday afternoon, probably the worst time to have dance parties, however he made it work and his Tardeadas were huge success with the Latino Community that lived in Oakland and surrounding areas.
Sweet’s Ballroom has gone through some tough times but it’s still open and allowing people to have fun like they did in 1920. It’s not flashy but it is a great part of Oakland’s history and I look forward in visiting it one day.