Burlesque Haunts: Atlanta
Founded in 1837, the great city of Atlanta has had plenty of time to collect ghosts. There are a number of ghost tours offered, including one on segway! Or, you can simply go out to the theatre or the club in hopes of having a ghostly encounter.
The New American Shakespeare Tavern is home to The Atlanta Shakespeare Company, which holds the distinction of being the first American company ever to perform upon the stage of Shakespeare’s Globe theatre in London. The Shakespeare Tavern, where the troupe took up residence in 1990, is a beautiful theatre and English pub, with a full menu to match. The venue produces a variety of historical shows, including the vaudeville-inspired farce, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and Salome, whose Dance of the Seven Veils created a craze that was very influential to the earliest days of modern dance and burlesque as we know it. Although the Tavern itself is not old, perhaps the span of history that passes across its stage draws its ghostly visitors. Employees, performers, and patrons of the tavern have all witnessed voices and shadows without a source. Some have even seen apparitions, such as a dark figure that likes to stroll along the stage’s catwalk at night and a female entity that prefers the women’s dressing room and has a tendency to move things around to suit her liking. There are also reports of flickering lights, a foreboding, clammy upstairs room, and the sighting of an old man dressed in 19th century clothing. The most eerie incident, though, happened in 1993, during the tavern’s production of Henry IV. While in his dressing room, preparing for the show, the actor playing Falstaff was gravely surprised to see a little boy in a blue velvet suit standing beside his dressing table.
Atlanta’s Fox Theatre is a magnificent historic structure, built for the Shriners in the early 1920s and originally named the Yaarab Temple Mosque. To generate funding for its costly construction, the building doubled as a luxurious movie palace under the supervision of mogul William Fox. A lavish and well-maintained venue, it would cost over $300,000,000 to build today. It did fall on hard times in the 1970s, but the Rolling Stones actually helped to save the building from demolition. Although the Fox’s so-called ‘phantom of the opera’ is really the live-in caretaker and resident guru, there have been multiple sightings of a confederate soldier pacing the halls.
The Masquerade, a nightclub and venue operating in Atlanta since 1989, also has a long history, and not all of it’s pretty. Built in the early 1900s, the building originally served as a mill and saw the accidental deaths of many young women working there under terrible conditions. The building has also suffered structural collapses and fires over the years. After hours the back stairs are sometimes filled with strange noises, phantom screams, and footsteps; sometimes heavy amplifiers are pushed over by phantom hands, as well. A tall, dark man has been spotted walking around the club and there are rumors that a vampire even inhabits the building. Others claim that vampires merely frequent the club, and some (like the Atlanta Vampire Alliance) just like to hold meetings there. The club is divided into three floors- bands perform on the Heaven level, customers lounge in Purgatory, the mid-level, and the dance party rages on the lowest level, Hell. In the month of October there is also the addition of a horrific haunted ‘torture chamber’ behind the club.
If that isn’t enough of Atlanta’s ghostly nightlife, check out The Compound Night Club, former headstone factory and slaughter house. Although no apparitions have been sighted, The Atlanta Ghost Hunters were touched, kicked, scratched, and spoken to upon their investigation!