The Stork Club was a famous Manhattan night club that was founded by Oklahoma native and ex-bootlegger Sherman Billingsley (ed. note: amazing name), and operated continuously from 1929-1965. The NYC hot spot — which was located on 53rd Street near Fifth Avenue — was a destination for celebrities, artists, writers and wealthy people in general. You might remember The Stork Club from an appearance in the second season of Mad Men when Don and Betty infamously attended a party hosted by Jimmy Barrett.
While cruising through the LIFE archive, I found a mesmerizing series of images of Mr. Billingsley demonstrating his own brand of nightclub-code via hand gestures. The full set of images are below.
LIFE caption: Closeup of Stork Club owner Sherman Billingsley w. hand on tie, one of his elaborate signals to his nearby assistant which means “No check for this table,” while sitting w. patrons over his usual Coca Cola, in the Cub Room.