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DispL.A. Case #44: Jewel’s Catch One Disco Shirt
The history of Los Angeles as told through 232 objects.
Los Angeles was founded on September 4, 1781. Between now and the 232nd anniversary, we are gathering the stories behind iconic objects that help explain our city. Los Angeles is older than Chicago, Atlanta or Washington, D.C. In fact, when L.A.’s founders were gathering at El Pueblo, New York City was still occupied by the British army. We have a long story to tell, let’s take a look back and see where the city came from. Feel free to add to this exhibition. Email your ideas to email@example.com
Jewel Thais-Williams has a history degree from UCLA and a traditional Chinese medicine degree from Samra University. She runs a free clinic, a recovery house, and a vegan restaurant. She worked with Hillary Clinton in the early days of AIDS, and serves on the board of endless non-profits…and she runs a dance hall on Pico Boulevard. Her Catch One disco opened in 1972, and the ONE Archives at the USC library where this shirt is housed describes her club as the “Nations’ first black gay and lesbian disco.” Thais-Williams describes it as a place for “gays, lesbians, bi’s, tries and otherwise.” She still offers a place where she says “anybody and everybody could come.” Madonna was a guest in the ‘80s, Ryan Gosling more recently when scenes from Gangster Squad were filmed inside the 1925 dance hall.