Archive for the 'THIS DATE IN CHICAGO HISTORY' Category

Prince Henry Visits the Everleigh Club (3-3-1902)

Prince Henry of Prussia, brother of the German emperor, was touring the United States. When the distinguished visitor arrived in Chicago, the local elites had an elaborate program planned—a parade, various receptions and tours, a concert, and a grand banquet. The events were dutifully noted on the front pages of the city’s newspapers.

Prince Henry

Prince Henry

What wasn’t mentioned was the 39-year-old prince’s one specific request. He wanted to visit the Everleigh Club, the world-famous brothel.

So at the conclusion of the formal banquet, Prince Henry and his party discretely made their way to the twin mansions at 2131-33 South Dearborn Street. The proprietors, sisters Ada and Minna Everleigh, had prepared a special entertainment to welcome their guests. The ladies of the club would perform a celebration of Dionysius, the Roman god of good times.

During the festivities, the house band struck up the “The Blue Danube.” This prompted one of the ladies to climb atop a table and begin dancing. One of her slippers flew off, knocking over a bottle of champagne.

The slipper was filled with bubbly. Seeing this, one of the men picked up the slipper and drank down the champagne. “The darling shouldn’t get her feet wet,” he explained.

The rest of the evening’s activities can best be left to the imagination.

The Everleigh Club

The Everleigh Club

The soaked slipper incident impressed the Everleigh ladies. Since the club offered a special discount to newspaper reporters, a bowdlerized version of the story soon appeared in the popular press. Drinking champagne out of a lady’s slipper became a symbol of decadent sophistication.

Prince Henry’s historic visit to the Everleigh Club did not become general knowledge until many years later. However, Chicago reporters couldn’t resist tweaking him with a double entendre. When the royal libertine finally left for home, the headline in the Tribune read: “Prince Henry Americanized.”