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The history of one of the most popular music venues in the Midwest: The Vogue

After 85 years in business, The Vogue has transformed into one of the top destinations for music and live events in Indianapolis.

INDYtoday: INDY_Vogue Theater history_NOV23

The name “The Vogue” was suggested to the original owner by film stars Mary Pickford and Buddy Rogers.

Photo by @thevogueindy

Ever wondered how The Vogue, one of Broad Ripple’s most notable landmarks, became en vogue?

It hasn’t always been Indy’s go-to spot for live music. The Vogue opened on June 18, 1938 as a premier movie theater, featuring 800 seats, spacious lounge rooms and a free 400-car parking lot. It was also one of the first movie theaters to have air conditioning.

The theater thrived for over a decade, even receiving a larger marquee with light up letters in 1948, which is still seen on College Avenue today. But ticket sales started to slow in the 50s due to the popularity of drive-in theaters and homes across the US getting television sets. After changing hands twice between 1954 and 1971, The Vogue suffered from low attendance, and eventually became an X-rated movie theater just to keep the doors open.

INDYtoday: INDY_Vogue theater history marquee_NOV23

The Vogue’s iconic marquee was installed in 1948, ten years after its opening.

Photo by @thevogueindy

1977 was a huge year for The Vogue, one that would change its history forever and save it from ruin. The theater was purchased by two new owners who invested $500,000 in the old theater to turn it into a music venue, adding tiered seating, oak floors, a balcony, a larger stage, and three full service bars. On New Year’s Eve 1977, it reopened to a sold out crowd.

As it enjoyed renewed success, The Vogue experimented with national, local, and emerging musicians in its lineup, as well as events such as wrestling + dance nights, for several decades. It saw another remodel under new owners in 1993 that added two bars, a deli, new lighting, and new sound systems, and quadrupled the size of the dance floor.

The Vogue prospered under local businessman John Ross’ ownership for 33 years, and was sold to Forty5 Presents in 2019 — a group named after streetcar 45, the original streetcar that ran from downtown to Broad Ripple and dropped commuters in front of the theater, bringing its history full circle. The Vogue continues to thrive today, bringing the best in live entertainment to Indy every week.

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