Picture: Clinton’s day the music died, when the Coliseum burned down, 1958.
Remember when people danced and they actually touched? There are still a few folks left who can “cut a rug.” Once upon a time, they did it to the “Lindy Hop”. In the roaring 20’s, the Charleston or Conga Lines were all the rage with flappers. During the 30’s, cartoon dancer Betty Boop came along, patterned after singer, Helen Kane, whose delightful baby voice once sang, “I wanna be loved by you!”
Young people have always enjoyed high energy dancing, but slower waltz-type dances helped generations of romantics to “break the ice.” Years ago, people were reticent to get emotionally involved on what’s called, “the physical level.” There was a natural feeling of shyness, which dancing helped to alleviate.
The Modernistic Ballroom in the Coliseum and Root Park, sometimes called Shadduck Park (Shad-Oak Park) in Lyons, were social “haunts” where young people could always congregate for a worthwhile activity their parents would readily condone. Do you recall “chaperones?”- At times girls could not be left alone with a beau, especially after dark? Curfews were very strict and, if broken, parents were certain to “put their foot down.” Perhaps it was the advent of more automobiles, perhaps it was losing our large ballrooms, but things changed a lot when drive-in movies took the place of dances!
Back then, youthful daters often went south to Fairy Land or the Col Ballroom in Davenport. (As a kid, I thought they were saying “The Cow” ballroom!) Adventuresome individuals might even trek up to Dyersville, because the very best dancers were known to be there or at the Melody Mill in Dubuque. It was amazing to see scores of twirling couples Fox Trotting around the large floors, with neophytes gingerly hugging the inner circle.