This Week in Texas Music History: The Galvan Ballroom
This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll visit a nightclub that used music to help break down barriers of racial segregation.
The Galvan Ballroom in Corpus Christi opened on March 2, 1950. Rafael Galvan, Sr., built the elegant venue as a permanent home for his fifteen-piece Galvan Orchestra, the largest dance orchestra in Corpus Christi at that time. The Galvan Ballroom quickly became a showcase for the best in big band, swing, and jazz music. Over the years, such stars as Tommy Dorsey, Gene Krupa, Count Basie, and Duke Ellington performed there.
However, the Galvan Ballroom also featured numerous local bands, which included black, white, and Hispanic musicians. These groups performed in both English and Spanish to mix-raced audiences at a time when segregation was still prevalent throughout the South. As a result, the Galvan Ballroom played an important role in promoting desegregation through the universal language of music.