Mainstreet Theater, six movie theaters, full bar and restaurant service in each, vegan and vegetarian options, quote-alongs, sing-alongs, throwback films, Chesterfield Bar, tickets and showtimes: http://drafthouse.com/kansas_city/mainstreet
Kansas City’s pet name “Paris of the Plains” derives from our city’s rich jazz and cultural history, and also from its naughty side. “If you want to see some sin,” writes journalist Edward Morrow, “forget Paris and head to Kansas City.” During the 1920s and ‘30s, Kansas City was all about alcohol, brothels and gambling. The original Chesterfield Club first opened on 320 E. 9th Street touting good food and beautiful attractions (cough cough). This bad-boy gentlemen’s club offered meals served by waitresses who often wore nothing but red high-heeled shoes and cellophane aprons that bared pubic hair shaved into either a heart, diamond, spade or club (sorry, mom). A man could order a tasty sandwich with a side of lap dance. The women were known to pick up a tip without their hands. And, if the men ever became bored of the entertainment, a gambling game of any sort was known to spontaneously start. The Chesterfield shut down in 1939 after it was deemed a public nuisance by the city. It was located just blocks away from Kansas City’s own red-light district on 13th and 14th Streets where prostitutes would stand inside windows and lure men into their beds.
Though the days of the original risqué Chesterfield Club are long gone, the Chesterfield Bar, which pays homage to the old club, has reopened at 1400 Main St., located in one of the many of establishments that helps Kansas City lifestyle stay strong, the Alamo Drafthouse Mainstreet Theatre. The Chesterfield’s more modest home under the flashing Mainstreet sign and screen scrolling names of the most current blockbusters of the Alamo Drafthouse Mainstreet Theatre, stays true to its 1930s roots with dark wood, clean lines and live jazz. But the waitstaff stay fully clothed (get your mind out of the gutter.) The bar provides its new home a bit of history for the theatre’s patrons. However, the theatre itself can hold its own with a somewhat bad-boy past.
Below the stone dome of the theatre, tunnels connected to the President Hotel, 1329 Baltimore Ave., to allow actors, such as Charlie Chaplin and the Marx Brothers, a secret entrance to the theatre. True to Kansas City’s rebellious behavior, bootleggers transported illegal alcohol during the prohibition years by way of these tunnels.
Before big-named cinema companies, such as AMC and, of course, the Alamo Drafthouse, owned the theatre, the Mainstreet Cinema opened its doors in 1921 as the largest theatre at the time in Kansas City, holding about 3,000 seats. It was also the only theatre at the time to have a nursery for parents wanting to catch a flick or show, which isn’t a bad idea. Along with the tunnels, the theatre’s basement was large enough to hold performing animals such as elephants, and it even had a pool for seals.The tunnels have now been blocked off and the basement is most likely used for storage.
The Alamo Drafthouse Maintstreet Theatre reopened in 2012 after a long line of closures and changes in ownership. It now offers six dine-in theatres. Moviegoers can enjoy freshly cooked meals ranging from its famous pizza to gluten-free and vegetarian options, alongside a full bar menu. The theatre shows current and popular movies as well as a few fun and quirky events like sing-a-longs and quote-alongs. What other theatre allows you to don your poodle skirt and belt out the lyrics to “Summer Nights” or “Beauty-School Drop-Out” whilst drinking a Boulevard beer and swooning in the end when Olivia Newton-John channels the Chesterfield gals and breaks out her inner bad girl? We rest our case.