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NYC. The Cotton Club was a famous night club in New York City that operated during Prohibition. While the club featured many of the greatest African American entertainers of the era, such as Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Bessie Smith, Cab Calloway, The Nicholas Brothers, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole, Billie Holiday, and Ethel Waters, it generally denied admission to blacks. During its heyday, it served as a chic meeting spot in the heart of Harlem.