The Surf Ballroom

1998 - Ballroom

The Surf has a fabulous music history from the big bands of the '30s and '40s, to big-name rock artists of the '50s through the '90s, the Surf has had them all.

The original Surf was built as a wooden frame structure and prospered as one of the most famous ballrooms in the Upper Midwest until a fire caused her demise in 1947.

The community of Clear Lake and dancers throughout the Midwest got behind the ownership of the Surf, and plans were made to rebuild at its current location in 1948.

In the '30s and '40s for a big band to make its reputation nationally, it had to play the Surf. Acts such as Count Basie, Duke Ellington, and The Dorsey's all made regular stops at the Surf.

The 1950s saw the dawn of rock and roll and then manager, Carol 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 Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper, and Ritchie Valens.

During the '50s and '60s, 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 '70s, the Surf brought 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 '90s the ballroom underwent significant renovations by its new owners, the Snyder family of Clear Lake.


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