Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Crystal Ballroom

When Ole and I were young, (back in the Dark Ages), New Year's Eve used to be an elegant celebration, at least in the area where we live. Ladies got dressed up in elegant, sparkly dresses and guys wore suits and ties. There was always a nice dinner and dance to follow at the Eagles or the Elks, both of which had large wooden dance floors and brought in live "Big Bands." The Ball would drop at midnight, followed by a champagne toast and then a midnight supper served again before everyone went home.

Things have sure changed from back then. The Eagles and the Elks have both downsized. They combined and have moved their headquarters into a small building - no more dance floor, no more elegant dinners - just a bar where you can go sit and socialized a bit. And now, dressed up means having a crease in your blue jeans.

Gone are the days of the big ballrooms with the huge wooden dance floors and that beautiful Big Band sound that was so fun. I'm not QUITE old enough to have lived through that era, but I do love the Big Band music. I often say I was born in the wrong generation.

We had a big ballroom still functioning in our area when Ole and I were in our teens. It was called the Crystal Ballroom and was a regular hangout for teens every Friday night. Mostly records were played by a DJ, but occasionally there would be a live band from the 60s that would come in and then the place was packed. Here's a picture of the building that the Crystal Ballroom was in. It was built in 1926 and the Crystal Ballroom was on the main floor. There's a white walkway on the lower right-hand side that goes from the street level to the entrance to the ballroom. This building was actually built into the side of a hill. The lower floor housed the armory and at times was used for a roller skating rink.

My Big Sister was a teenager during the Big Band era and partied at the Crystal Ballroom back in the DARK Dark Ages. Here's a shot of a dance she went to back in the early 50s. Note all the gals are actually wearing dresses - not blue jeans with a crease.

I found this picture on the web site about the Crystal Ballroom. This is what it looked like when it was first opened back in 1926. Can't you just imagine all the couples twirling around in circles on this huge wooden floor?

Then along came 1962, and it was time for the poor old building to go by the wayside. It was demolished and senior citizens condos replaced it. Funny thing - the senior citizens that are living in the condos probably attended many dances in that old ballroom. I was there the day they knocked it down. How sad - it was so beautiful - so fun - and held so many memories.

Plans for this New Year's Eve? Very low key - IF we can even get out of our yard with all the snow that's been falling over the last 24 hours and with what's predicted in the next 24 hours. Dinner out at a little hole in the wall restaurant that we love in a little town not far from here - no, it's not The Watering Hole. And it's Bob's birthday (of Bob and Carol) on New Year's Eve. His family is taking him and Carol out for dinner and then we'll meet them later at the Watering Hole for karaoke. Bob never stays for karaoke even though he used to sing in a band. But he's promised that this year he'll stay for an hour or so and will grace us with his voice. I've heard him sing bits and pieces of some Beach Boys songs and he's terrific so I can't wait to hear in do an entire song. He's got a brother who sings in a local band called Billy Dee and the Crystals. Billy Dee is a BIG guy and bounces around on the stage like you can't believe. Bob is built like him, and I think probably will clone his little brother on stage. Hearing Bob will make my night.

My most memorable New Year's Eve? Well, I wasn't 21 yet at the time - and there's a reason that I no longer drink champagne under any circumstances. And that's all I have to say about that.

What's your most memorable New Year's Eve? I'd love to hear about it.

Love Lena

PS: I'll probably be wearing Levis with a crease in them!!


Susan said...

I can't think of but one New Years eve - 1999...I had imagined when I was a teen that in 1999 I would be partying to Price's song..."1999", instead I was lighting off fireworks with my husband and kids, bringing in the new millennium.

This New Year's Eve we'll be watching our Granddaughter whilst her Mommy & Daddy go off to party like it's 1999. Go figure!

Loved the pictures - brought back memories of a emporium that I knew back when I was a kid.

Hope you have fun with whatever you do, creases in your jeans and all.

Marge said...

It's official! We are leaving in the morning. So our New Year will be spent in a motel, somewhere along about Missouri or Illinois. We don't party anyhow, so it really doesn't make any different to me where we are!

Have fun, be careful.

Moodygemini said...

I LOVE Big Band music! Ahhh the old days, even ones like those before I was born!

Jean said...

1983. Party at a bachelor pad farm house (formally known in the social circle as 'The Ranch') in the country. Keg after keg after cinnamon schnapps (almost frozen - we treated it like breath freshener)after keg. Loud music. Partial destruction of house (slated for demolition in the spring, but still.....). Drunken men kicking the wall to show their mad ninja kicking skills. One man - not a local partier, not even sure why he was there - bets the crowd that he can kick a hole in ceiling. Bet is taken. Drunken, swaying crowd gathers. Man bends down, unstraps/unlocks his prosthetic from the knee down leg and pokes a hole in the acoustic tile ceiling. Loud applause. Money changes hands. I think I wandered outside for some air about that time, my head spinning for various reasons.

Happy New Year, Lena! I'm formally burning my 2008 calendar tonight. Wish me luck that I don't set myself on fire.