The Valencia was a smart dance-restaurant in Charlottenburg, Berlin popular in the Jazz Age of the 1920s. It was opened and owned by George Tichauer and his brother Dagobert, who also ran the famous Barberina and Kakadu. Prior to this it had been the Café of the Theater des Westens and then a fashionable restaurant called the Palais Heinroth.
The Valencia was situated at 8 Kantstrasse, next door to the Theatre des Westens, and adjacent to the rail bridge that led to the Zoo train station. It had been a warehouse but by 1901 it had been renovated and repainted and had become a theatre-café owned by a B. Arzti with painted murals on the walls. It was designed to take advantage of trade from the Theatre des Westens next door and was called the Theater-Café of the Theater des Westens.
Photographs and postcards of the location at about this time and before 1914 do show a main central entrance and two covered terraces on either side. At some point the café was re-purposed and re-decorated again with the addition of a bar and a dance floor creating the very salubrious restaurant called Palais Heinroth. It was allegedly run by a Russian ex-general.
It is not known when the Palais Heinroth opened but it must have been around before World War 1. It had become ‘the’ society rendezvous of Berlin and when Charlie Chaplin visited Berlin in 1921, after the war. He called it ‘the most expensive place in Berlin and the high spot of night life.’ It was here, sometime in late September or October 1921, that Al Kaufman of Famous Players’s Lasky introduced him to the actress Pola Negri.
Palais Heinroth was very close to the newest of film studios created by the American film company Famous Players Lasky on the site that became the UFA Palast am Zoo. Albert Kaufman arrived in Berlin in early 1921 to set up a film production centre and created EFA – the European Film Alliance. A new studio was constructed on Augusta Viktoria Platz where Hardenbergstrasse ran into the Kurfstendamm. The Barberina, at 17 Hardenbergstrasse had just opened and it swiftly took the place of Palais Heinroth as the most popular restaurant in Berlin. However, Palais Heinroth did continue to thrive up to 1926.
The Palais Heinroth engaged dance bands to play and occassionally cabaret artistes performed. In 1921, for example, the Fred Ross Jazz Band was in residence. Ross was enigmatic, and although born in Berlin, he sold his band as an American Jazz Band. He was one of the first ‘jazz musicians’ in Berlin in the early post-war years at the beginning of the 1920s.
In early 1923 one newspaper report described the restaurant ‘Lights shimmer through crystal chandeliers. Fashionable gowned women. Correctly tailored escorts. The strains of a jazzy orchestra. Food to please a royal palate.’ The reporter then told a fascinating tale about the striking politeness of the waiter. It transpired that his skill at carving a joint of meat was remarkable. However, it was learned that the man’s skill was not so remarkable since he was a doctor and surgeon and knew carving from his daily work. But he was now applying his skill as a waiter and meat carver since being a doctor didn’t provide him with a sufficient living.
In the summer of 1924, the Palais Heinroth went through a complete renovation and reopened in August 1924 with Jose Melzak’s Jazz band described as ‘Berlin’s best dance orchestra.’ Melzak was Polish but his family had lived in Berlin and he had studied at the Sternchen Conservatory from 1909 -1912. The band had played at various Berlin dance clubs and the Hotel Kaiserhof and later appeared in the Nelson-Theater, the Hotel Esplanade, and Central-Hotel. During the winter season of 1924-25 the Ohio Lido Venus Band led by Hall Smith had residency at the Palais Heinroth. And, in February 1925, Janos and Olivia, a well-known dancing couple, danced there.
In the late summer of 1926, Georg and Dagobert Tichauer took possession of the Palais Heinroth and relaunched it as the Valencia. They created a new company simply called Valencia Restaurant on 2nd August 1926 for the operation of a restaurant and dance hall. Georg’s brother-in-law Fritz Greifenhagen, described as a merchant from Berlin-Wilmersdorf, was appointed as the sole managing director. The Titchauer family were clearly behind this new acquisition. Valencia opened 1st September 1926 with the South American dance Orchestra led by E. Andriozzi along with the major selling point of an illuminated parquet dance floor.
The idea of an illuminated dance floor had come from Paris and London. In December 1925, the Florida club had opened on the Rue de Clichy, Paris next door to the Casino de Paris with a glass floor lit up by various coloured lights beneath. A little later in June 1926 the Florida Club opened in London also with an illuminated glass dancing floor. Clearly the Tichauer’s had seen this innovation and decided to introduce the novelty to Berlin.
A report in December 1926 identifies the young American song and dance comedian Jack Forrester who doubled at the Barberina and the Valencia. Forrester had arrived in Paris in August 1926 and had been dancing with Marion Chambers before arriving in Berlin. He was also later to achieve success in two shows at the Casino de Paris in Paris and became a successful film producer and businessman.
You entered the Valencia on street level. The entrance was flanked on one side by a sculptured stone lion resting on a stone pedestal. Above two ornately carved, rather narrow doors there was a painted sign that said ‘Valencia’ superimposed over the drawing of a large peacock. The whole sign was bordered by a single row of coloured electric light bulbs around the sign but not the doorway. The Valencia itself comprised two large rooms. Beyond a foyer there was a large semi-lit room with a rather novel and spectacular glass dance floor lit from beneath. What looked like large Chinese lanterns hung from the ceiling. Booths lined the walls and tables and chairs were all around the dance floor. The dance orchestra podium was only a step or two above the dance flooring and was located at the end of one oblong wall near the doorway into the second part of the venue.
The second room was though a large doorway off the side of the elevated bandstand on the left of the room and was described as a ‘beautiful Blue Hall with a bar.’. Here there was a large central chandelier, walls with large mirrors, a long bar with chairs, lampshades hanging over the bar, discrete wall lighting, a large area opposite the bar for tables and chairs and an elevated, more private alcove balcony. At the back was another level with toilet rooms, a barbershop and a room for the entertainers. Presumably it was at the back where the kitchens and wine cellar were located.
However, at one time the bar itself was on the right-hand side as you entered the second room but this was later removed. It was perhaps done to increase the size of the room itself. The panelled wall on one side included at least three huge mirrors with a peacock motif and drapes and then stools lining the wall.
Unlike the Barberina, the cabaret section in the first room of the Valencia was one level and there were no upstairs booths or loges. Also, Valencia was not as expensive as the Barberina and was thought to be more ‘subdued.’ It was also categorised as a second, or third class, cabaret more akin to Villa D’Este, Cafe am Zoo, Europa Haus or Cafe Berlin.
Because the Valencia and Barberina were under the same management some of the acts that were booked into one place would play the other. Georg Tichauer’s brother-in-law – Fritz Greifenhagen, (Friedrich born about 1888 and brother to Georg’s wife Herta) managed the cabaret and bands that played the Barberina and the Valencia. Thought to be somewhat argumentative he was called ‘Grief’ by the English-speaking bands.
Seemingly, the Imperial Jazz Band led by Italian tenor saxophonist Sesto Carlini had a residency at the Valencia from 1st April 1927. In September 1927 an American Jazz Band called The New Yorkers began to perform at the Barberina, but when they were replaced by Bernard Ette and the Jazz Kings in October 1927, Griefenhagen transferred them to the Valencia where they remained until the end of February 1928.
There are few other accounts of the Valencia. It was mentioned in October 1927 for its luminous parquet floor and in January 1929 admired for the passionate dancing that took place there. In September 1932 the Chicago Tribune regarded the trio of the Barberina, the Ambassadeurs and the Valencia as ‘the last word in luxury’ and observed that ‘orchestras of the highest class’ were engaged and special variety acts were offered.
What happened to the Valencia in the 1930s and lead up to the second World war is not totally clear. The Tichauer family were clearly forced to sell their interests in their various business enterprises before they escaped Berlin. It is likely that by 1936 it was completely remodelled and became Weinhaus Trarbach, a much more sedate rendezvous. The venue must have been destroyed during the war.
In the spot that is 8 or 9 Kantstrasse is a new modern building and underneath the railway line and bridge is now a huge supermarket. Sadly, there is no trace of the Valencia.
All images (unless specified in the caption) and text © copyright Gary Chapman / Jazz Age Club and must not be re-used without prior consent
My Wonderful Visit by Charlie Chaplin
Pola Negri: Temptress of Silent Hollywood by Sergio Delgado
The Jazz Republic: Music, Race and American Culture in Weimer Germany by Jonathan O. Wipplinger
Nights in London by Horace Wydham
Days and Nights in Montmarte and the Latin Quarter by Ralph Nevill
The Paris That’s Not in the Guide Books by Basil Woon
Evening Star (Washington) 8/10/22
The Daily Journal(Telluride) 24/1/23
Deutsche allgemeine Zeitung 30/8/24
Berliner Börsen-Zeitung 30/1/25
Dancing Times December 1925
Deutsche allgemeine Zeitung 31/8/26
Berliner Börsen-Zeitung, 31/8/26
Kölnische Zeitung 27/1/29
Durlacher Tageblatt 24/11/36
Bergmeier, Horst P.J., and Rainer E. Lotz. “James Arthur Briggs.” Black Music Research Journal, vol. 30, no. 1, spring 2010