Harlem Juke Joint Tour

New York, NY , United States

About Your Host

Harlem Tour Guide Shows Off City’s Little-Known Jazz Haunts by Alex Hutchinson, Chronicle Correspondent "Keeping track of the New York jazz scene’s shifting world of hole-in-the-wall clubs and after-hours jam sessions is a task that defies the conventional guide book. It requires an addiction to the music, a willingness to nose out new venues on the basis of vague rumors and recommendations, and a very late bedtime. Gordon Polatnick, a 43-year-old Astoria resident, has all of these traits—along with a deep-seated need to tell others what he’s learned. In 1997, he started Big Apple Jazz Tours, offering to personally guide his customers to whatever niche of the New York scene they request. While he’s still a standard New York tour guide by day, he now spends as many as five nights a week introducing jazz fans to little-known venues. Polatnick is as bohemian as the music he loves. His life story is like one long free-form jazz improvisation. Sitting at the kitchen table of his Astoria house, he traced the circuitous route from his high-school days in Great Neck on Long Island to his current status as the unofficial docent of the world’s foremost jazz city."

What we'll do

A Small-Group Tour To Harlem With Someone Part Of The Uptown Scene Not a “Cookie-Cutter” Tour. That’s not You, and that’s not Us. Your jazz guide will customize the best itinerary for each given night, based on the most talented players in Harlem’s Most Exciting Clubs. Tour Information: Meeting Location: Tours conveniently start in Midtown Manhattan by Columbus Circle – Specific details emailed to you with your confirmation. Time: 6:30pm-11:30pm Visit Harlem as a New Yorker would: This is a subway/taxi/walking tour that gives you an authentic feel for this beautifully preserved and thoroughly charming neighborhood. Live Jazz, Sightseeing, Mixing and Mingling. About This deep immersion tour escorts you through a minimum of 2 hidden jazz haunts (but most tours visit 3) for hours of swinging live music. Perfectly integrated into the natural flow of the evening, we pause to see and hear about Harlem’s historic past and dynamic current scene. Learn about the Cotton Club, Savoy Ballroom, Minton’s Playhouse, Swing Street, The Tree of Hope, and the Apollo Theater. There’s lots of ways to enjoy the scene: If you’re a player or singer, let us know so we can help you join the jam. If you like to move, then get up and dance! If you just want to groove, hang back and let the music wash over you. If you’re feeling gregarious your guide will introduce you to all the cats. (Mature teenagers are welcome on this tour). Music charges at clubs, and transportation charges are included. We tailor your itinerary based on each night’s jazz schedule so you hear only the most talented performers in Harlem’s Most Exciting Clubs! Just like jazz, no two tours are alike. We choose nightly from among thrilling clubs as: The renowned “Birthplace of Bebop” A members’ only club that dates back to the 20’s A 1960’s vintage dive bar with free food and swinging live music A Hammond B3 organ lounge from the 40’s where Duke Ellington and Sarah Vaughan performed. A Speakeasy with roots going back to Prohibition and the discovery of Billie Holiday by John Hammond. And new Harlem spots on their way to becoming legendary – all with their own special charms. It’s an amazing scene – Every night, we hear Harlem’s Legends and Young Lions! We hear vocalists in the Billie Holiday and Dinah Washington tradition, serious soloists in the Sonny Rollins and Dizzy Gillespie tradition, and great bits of jazz history in the warmest, most inviting neighborhood in NYC! What’s Not Included: Food and beverages are not included in the tour price, but there will be opportunities to eat and drink during this tour when we hang out in the jazz joints. You may wish to bring some extra dollars to tip musicians, guide and servers. Because of 20 years experience, even native New Yorkers rely on us for our insights! There is no tour company like Big Apple Jazz with more intimate knowledge of and passion for New York’s jazz and blues scene. We customize our itineraries to take advantage of last-minute information and hit all the must see events. No other company is this flexible and passionate about showing you the best time possible. Even native New Yorkers rely on us for our insights!



for Harlem Juke Joint Tour

    Similar Experiences in New York Metro


    $100 USD

    per person


    $100 USD

    per person