The Beautiful Surf Ballroom!

Surf Ballroom
Mike greeting me and sharing some history about the Surf Ballroom.


The original Surf Ballroom was built-in 1934 by Carl J. Fox.  Sadly the original ballroom burned April 1947, but the next ballroom was built by July of 1948 at a cost of $300,000.

With its beach club motif, the Surf Ballroom is the perfect name and it was the perfect venue for the first Building Conference dreamed up by the Midwest Travel Blogger founders and the Clear Lake Visitor Information Center. This conference brought together travel bloggers and destinations primarily from the Midwest.

Surf Ballroom
The Surf Ballroom was the sight of the first Building Community Conference.
Surf Ballroom
The Surf Ballroom is both an event space and a museum.


In the 1930’s it was the Big Band Era and according to the Surf Ballroom website entertainers like Count Basie, Duke Ellington and more performed on the Surf stage.

In the 1950’s time changed and entertainment at the Surf changed to Rock N Roll.  It is easy to see this swing in the pictures and the wonderful signatures in the Green Room where entertainers stay before performing on stage.

Along with acts like Roy Orbison, Ricky Nelson and others, the history of the Surf and Rock N Roll changed when the Winter Dance Party was held on February 2, 1959 when Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, The Big Bopper and Dion performed. After performing, Buddy Holly chartered a plane to fly to his next act in Minnesota.  The place crashed soon after takeoff, killing Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, The Big Bopper and the pilot Roger Peterson.

Surf Ballroom
Pictures remembering performers from the Winter Dance Party.
Surf Ballroom
Phone booth where Buddy Holly made his last call to his wife.

The Winter Dance Party Remembered

Pictures of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper are on display and there is the phone booth where both Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens made their last phone calls.  In the Green Room singer songwriter Don McLean’s signature and part of the lyrics to his hit that reflected the memory of those lost, ”The Day the Music Died” are written on the wall.

Surf Ballroom
Don McLean’s song lyrics from The Day the Music Died and his signature in the Green Room.


The first day of the Building Community conference is a wrap and the Conference is off to a great start.  The venue is perfect, a place of history and travel is serving as the utmost backdrop for a group of us gathered together to learn how to share stories about what has happened, what is happening, and maybe even guess what may happen in a place and catch it in our stories.