The Original Sensational Showmen

The Original Sensational Showmen
National Guard Armory-Concordia - 1965

Friday, February 27, 2015

The Surf Ballroom, Clear Lake, Iowa

The Surf has a fabulous music history from the big bands of the 30's and 40's, to big name rock artists of the 50's through the 90's, the Surf has had them all. The original Surf was built as a wooden frame structure and prospered as one of the most popular ballrooms in the Upper Midwest until an untimely fire caused her demise in 1947. The community of Clear Lake and dancers throughout the Midwest got behind the ownership of the Surf and it was rebuilt at its current location in 1948. In the 30's and 40's in order for a big band to make it's reputation nationally, it had to play the Surf. The likes of Count Basie, Duke Ellington, The Dorsey's all made regular stops at the Surf. The 1950's saw the dawning of rock and roll and then manager Carrol Anderson was quick to book into the Surf the hottest names in the business. This was the case on February 2, 1959 when Anderson brought in the famed Winter Dance Party featuring Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, The Big Bopper, and Dion. There isn't anyone who doesn't know the rest of the story as the fateful plane crash after the show took the lives of Holly, The Bopper and Valens. During the 50's and 60's the name rock acts kept playing the Surf. Artists such as Link Wray, Sam the Sham, Dion, The Everly Brothers, Jan and Dean, and Conway Twitty all took the stage at the Surf. In the early 70's, the Surf brougt in the likes of Santana, REO Speedwagon and Kansas, quite an impressive line-up. In 1975 the management of the ballroom was taken over by the colorful Darrel Hein, then later by Bruce Christensen. During the 90's the ballroom has undergone significant renovation by it's new owners, the Snyder family of Clear Lake.

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