Richard Pryor held down his first paying job as a professional comedian at Harold’s Club, a nightclub that was a mere two blocks from where Pryor grew up.

As this photograph suggests, the ambience of Harold’s Club radiated out from its owner and namesake, Harold Parker, who also used photographs of himself to decorate his bar.

From the patterned parquet floor and the spray of flowers atop the piano to the signs advertising the “men’s lounge” and “powder room,” Harold’s Club aspired to a certain level of swankiness: its “package entertainments” featured tuxedoed musicians and costumed chorus girls. At the same time, the testimony of musicians who played there suggests another side to Harold’s Club, one undocumented int his photo: the exuberance of its crowds. The club attracted a mixed crowd of young and old, gay and straight, and black and white, and there was a great deal of dynamic energy unlocked by that mix.