Jennifer Dunning of the New York Times sure had it right yesterday when she flatly stated, "The places where cultural history was made in New York City have largely disappeared."
That statement could apply most any day of the past five years to any number of vanished landmarks, but Dunning wrote it specifically in connection to a place called Fazil’s Times Square Studio, which closed on Friday after 73 years, which means it opens in the heart of the Depression.
It wasn't always called that, because Fazil Cengiz bought the center in 1978. If was first known as Michael’s. Michael a former wrestler who taught acrobatics, tap and ballroom dance. (Cengiz was a taxi driver.) After that Jerry LeRoy, a vaudevillian, bought it. Everyone practiced their steps here. Honi Childs, Gregory Hinds, Savion Glover, Alvin Ailey, Bill Irwin, Charles Cook, the Nicholas Brothers, Fred and Adele Astaire, Judy Garland and Gene Kelly. (The nice picture of the waiting room is courtesy of the Times.)
The landlord told Fazil he had to move out last summer; the building is one of several on the block slated for demolition to make room for some new monolithic piece of crap. According to a 2000 Times article, one Lila Scheiner owned the building and much of the block (Eighth Avenue between 46th and 47th).
Fazil is tearing up the old maple floor that dancers loved so well, perhaps with the idea of laying it down somewhere else. But these days, who would have him? A small business with nothing in mind by fostering art, building community and surviving? Not a chance