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The Solo Traveler Blog

The Apollo: I feel good, nananana

Apollo theater Harlem. Wednesdays are still Amateur Night at the Apollo.

I sang, live, at The Apollo.

Of course, I sang very poorly. But that’s beside the point. Taking the tour at The Apollo with the amazing Billy Mitchell was worth every sour note required of me.

Heading to Harlem and the legendary Apollo Theater

I was in New York City for the launch of The Traveler’s Handbooks, including the 2nd edition of The Solo Traveler’s Handbook. Tracey, our associate editor of Solo Traveler, was there too. I stayed in Manhattan thanks to DoubleTree by Hilton and Tracey stayed at the trendy new Aloft Harlem. So on the morning after our launch, another friend and I (this trip was not solo) headed north to meet her. I had never been to Harlem before and looked forward to it as I had heard good things in recent years.

The goal was to meet for brunch but we got side tracked. On route was The Apollo Theater.  Fascinated, we stopped in and discovered a tour about to start. $16? Yes!

Billy Mitchell is the fabulous Apollo tour guide. Scroll down to see him on video.

 The Billy Mitchell tour of the Apollo Theater

Billy is energetic, vivacious, open and fun. His tour of The Apollo is a combination of the theater’s history and his personal history. By the latter I mean his personal history with the theater and his personal life. We got to know how he came to work at the theater as a kid and how he met his wife. Who he has met at The Apollo and the birth of his daughter. Who he has introduced on The Apollo stage and his struggle to give up cigarettes.

And Billy is a talent. Maybe he’s not the caliber of Michael Jackson or James Brown but he can give a great impersonation of both. (Watch the video below for his “I feel good” bit at the end.) And he encourages all the people on his tour, which takes place on the Apollo stage, to do the same. We were all required to choose a stage name, rub the “Tree of Hope” and perform. Even the most shy of us.

Well, Tracey, I and a solo traveling woman from Australia teamed up as The Superbs and sang “Stop in the Name of Love.” Unfortunately, we only new the chorus but that wasn’t a problem. Billy jumped in as our Diana Ross and led us through the entire song. He was there to help everyone so that all had a great experience.

Everyone on the tour sang on stage at The Apollo

Tours of places like the Apollo are often informative but dry. Billy’s tour of The Apollo was the former but certainly not the latter. It was a fun time and highly recommended.

Now watch the video for a taste of what Billy offers.

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  • liz

    If you like informative but not dry tours you must check out Family In New York! They offer custom private New York tours! They specialize in creating custom tours based on your unique interests! They love creating tours that take people off the beaten path and show them a New York City they didn’t know existed! A tour with Family In New York is sure to be the highlight of a trip to the city!

About Janice Waugh and Tracey Nesbitt

I'm an author, blogger, speaker and traveler. I became a widow and empty-nester at about the same time. And then, I became Solo Traveler... Here's the full story. >>

Tracey Nesbitt I’m a writer, editor, food and wine fanatic, and traveler. On my very first trip abroad I learned that solo travel was for me. Here's the full story. >>

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