If you spend an evening downtown in Nashville, there’s a chance you’ll pass by Printers Alley. This infamous but lesser-known area has quite a fascinating history.
Hidden away between Third Avenue and Fourth Avenue in downtown Nashville is Printers Alley. The part of the alley that runs between Union Street and Church Street first became a nightclub district in the 1940s. When the nightclubs opened, the alley became a place where performers like Chet Atkins, Waylon Jennings, Hank Williams, and Dottie West made their mark. During this time, the sale of liquor for consumption on premises was illegal in Nashville. However, establishments in Printers Alley served it anyway, claiming it had been brown bagged by customers.
The name “Printers Alley” comes from Nashville’s connection to the printing and publishing industries. At the start of the 20th century, the alley was home to two large newspapers, 10 print shops, and 13 publishers. The area became the center of Nashville’s nightlife, servicing the restaurants and hotels on Fourth Avenue, which became known as the Men’s Quarter. As late as the 1960s, Nashville was home to over 36 printing companies.
There was once a venue in Printers Alley called the Rainbow Room, and the owner was David “Skull” Schulman. He was loved so much by other Nashvillians that the Nashville City Council declared him “The Mayor of Printers Alley.” Originally, the Rainbow Room was an exotic dance club that “Skull” eventually converted to a country bar in the 1990s. Prior to its conversion, the club was the only venue in Nashville that had a live band performing music for its dancers.
Tragically, one night in 1998, Schulman was attacked and murdered by two assailants while he was working alone at the club. The killers were eventually caught, but his club didn’t reopen. Bourbon Street Blues and Boogie Bar rented the space for storage for a while, but none of the employees wanted to go in there. Many swore that they saw a shape resembling “Skull” walking around the club and could hear his voice calling out to them.
After being closed for nearly 20 years following Schulman’s death, the Rainbow Room (now called Skull’s Rainbow Room) reopened in June 2015, thanks to Nashville businessman Phil Martin, who also owns Bourbon Street Blues and Boogie Bar. It’s now a 140-seat bar and restaurant that pays tribute to Schulman and features two of his jackets, which are framed and displayed on a wall. The original checkerboard stage is still in use, and the black-and-white television that “Skull” watched wrestling matches on sits on a shelf inside.
Today, Printers Alley is made up of several venues, such as the Bourbon Street Blues and Boogie Bar, the Fiddle and Steel Guitar Bar, Lonnie’s Western Room, Ms. Kelli’s, Fleet Street Pub, and The Brass Stables. These clubs encompass two live band bars, two karaoke bars, a soccer bar, and one adult entertainment bar.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.