The Runaway

Nightclub

2013 - Venue/Ballrooms

In 1970, Wayne and Mary (Nonie) Grillet were living in a farmhouse with their six children (3 boys and 3 girls) about a half a mile north of the Sioux City Air Base. Wayne and Nonie always wanted their own nightclub, and when the former officer’s club on the air base was damaged due to fire, they were able to acquire the property and realize their dream. With the help of family and friends, they renovated and re-opened the “officer’s club” under the new name, The Runway Nightclub. From 1970 to 1985, The Runway came to be one of the most noted venues in Western Iowa for live entertainment and dancing.

The Runway was a live music venue where aspiring, as well as established performers had a place to play. The main level had a full stage with sound, lighting and the largest dance floor in Siouxland. The lower level was a smaller, more intimate venue fit for solo and duo performers. It was a true family operation, and in late 1972, the three Grillet brothers, Jeff, Sandy and Phillip, formed the house band, Family.

Bands performed at The Runway from 2 to 4 nights a week. Many groups from around the Midwest found The Runway to be a great venue in which to play. Patrons loved being close to the stage because it gave them the ability to dance directly in front of the band. Throughout the seventies until its closing in 1985, The Runway was the “place to be” whenever you wanted to hear quality live music. Even as “disco” emerged and ballrooms were closing, The Runway provided an alternative venue for people to enjoy live music.

With the help of Tom Kingsbury and Flood Music, The Runway hosted live jams, coordinated by Jeff, Sandy and Phillip. These jams would present the talents of countless area musicians in order to promote their music and provide an opportunity to show their talents to a packed house. The Runway was also a pioneer in producing outdoor concerts and street dances. They promoted outdoor concerts on Memorial Day, July 4th, and Labor Day, with as many as two to three thousand people in attendance.

The Runway gave back to the community through hosting benefits for local charities, including support for the Sgt. Bluff Volunteer fire department, the Shrine’s Crippled Children’s Transportation fund and Sgt. Bluff Pioneer Days. Wayne and Nonie would give back to their customers during the holidays by complementary banquets along with gift giving on New Year’s Eve, to say “thank you” for their support.

The Runway was sold in 1985 and became a part of musical history. They always gave working bands a place to play, including artists who have now been inducted into the Iowa Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame. To this day whenever musicians and fans alike reminisce about the music scene of Sioux City during the seventies and early eighties, they always remember fondly the fun, the dancing, and the music of The Runway.

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