Don't Panic: The Psychology of Emergency Egress and Ingress

By Jerome M. Chertkoff; Russell H. Kushigian | Go to book overview

Chapter 6
Beverly Hills Supper Club Fire, May 28, 1977

The Beverly Hills Supper Club was located in Southgate, Kentucky, a small municipality across the Ohio River from Cincinnati. The lavishly decorated building was advertised by its owners as the Beverly Hills Country Club and the Beverly Hills "Showplace of the Nation."

In 1977, Beverly Hills was a large, multiroom structure, designed to accommodate a number of different events simultaneously (see Figure 7). The first floor alone had over 62,000 square feet. There was a small second floor on the south side of the building and a half-basement under the front, or south, side.

The front entrance was covered by a canopy. After you entered through two successive sets of double doors, you were in the foyer, with a checkroom to your left. Then you passed through a short, narrow hallway, about 12 feet wide, with a gift shop and then stairs to the basement on your left and restrooms on your right. From this hallway you entered into the Main Bar, billed as the Directoire Lounge. In the middle of the room was a large oval bar.

To the left of the Main Bar Room was the Main Dining Room, also called the Café Room, but advertised as the Café Frontenac. To the right of the Main Bar were curtains covering a set of double doors, one entrance to a 30-foot-by-15-foot room called the Zebra Room. Between the curtains and the double doors was a cubbyhole housing the reservationist, who handled telephone reservations. Past the curtains to your right was the open entrance to the Hallway of Mirrors. As you entered the Hallway of Mirrors from the Main Bar, a wall of mirrors was on your left and a spiral staircase leading to the second floor was on your right. Overhanging the open spiral staircase, known as the Cinderella Stairway, was a huge crystal chandelier, and beneath it was a small pool. Just beyond the spiral staircase was the second, and primary, entrance to the Zebra Room, a set of double doors.

As you proceeded forward out of the Hallway of Mirrors, you stepped down into the long North-South Corridor, running from the front of the building all the way to the two main rooms in the back, the Cabaret Room and the Garden Room. After

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