Vision 2022: Untold Story – Dreamland Ballroom | Vision

Built in 1909 to replace a pavilion that housed dances, which had burned down in the 1908 fire at Conneaut Lake Park, Dreamland Ballroom housed one of the largest ballrooms of any seaside resort in the country.

During its construction, it was nicknamed the “Dance Pavilion”, the same name as its predecessor. It later became known as Dreamland Ballroom, but what year this changed is unclear. In 1913, an inventory of the park’s properties included it as a dance pavilion. The name may have been chosen to copy Dreamland Ballroom in Coney Island at the time, but there is no record of when this happened.

Dreamland was 20,000 square feet, measuring 100 feet by 200 feet of maple wood and included a 14-foot by 400-foot outdoor promenade, which was later covered for safety. It was often used by dancers taking a break and using it for a casual stroll between dance numbers. They could also stop and watch visitors halfway through the park below.

The original construction cost was $28,000.

In 2022 figures, the cost would be $857,852.31.

Located about a halfway block from the edge of the lake, it was a two-story building. The dance was on the second floor. Wide steps of painted cement led to the second floor. The width allowed several people to get on or off at the same time.

Originally, the first level was used for indoor picnics. This level was eventually modified to house the Lake Conneaut Park maintenance offices.

Booths lined the interior walls, giving dancers a place to rest between songs. A refreshment area in one corner also provided food and drinks. A ticket office was located near the bottom of the steps.

Opening on June 24, 1909, the first dance was well attended as the ballroom was full. Women usually wore long dresses and men wore suits and ties. The dance apparently also included children. An image from the first dance showed a young child dressed in fancy dress.

Many of the early bands were orchestras, playing “big band” music, which was the mainstream music of that era. Music was presented six days a week, afternoons and evenings. Later, management changed the format to have bands appear on a two-week rotation and included not only local bands, but those from out of town as well.

In 1934 the Freddie Carlone Orchestra was one of the featured performers and included Perry Como, who later became a renowned singer and television star.

The names of some of the orchestras that have entertained include well-known names, such as Glenn Miller, Jimmy Dorsey, Woody Herman, The Castle Band, Paul Whitman, Benny Goodman and the Sauter-Finnegan Orchestra.

Although the name of the venue sounds like it was a formal “ballroom” dance, it wasn’t.

The ballroom has been used for many more.

In the 1940s, the roller skate, which had been on the corner of Comstock Street and Reed Avenue, moved to Dreamland Ballroom. Kids and adults have spent many hours roller-skating on the maple flooring and enjoying the spacious, open space. As the music has changed over the years, the entertainment at Dreamland has changed. as well as the dress style for the dance. No more long ceremonial clothes. Casual outfits have taken their place. Jeans and shorts were now worn. This was typical because many of the visitors were park tourists who were there to relax and have a good time without wearing formal attire. Or they were locals who didn’t want to “dress up” all the time to dance. In addition, the company had also lowered its expectations for clothing.

The 1950s brought rock and roll to the ballroom. The disc jockeys played music for the teenagers twice a week.

Bands were still playing there too. Over the years, Dreamland has hosted festivals of all types – polka, bavarian and even square dancing. The Kon Yacht Kickers, a local square-dancing group, often featured in the ballroom, and square-dancing festivals were an annual event with dancers from many regions coming to enjoy the music. Many dancers wore special outfits – with crinolines under the skirts, making a beautiful picture of outfits in different colors. Men often wore matching shirts.

Other uses of Dreamland included professional wrestling and religious services. Other conventions used it as a workplace. The boardwalk allowed companies such as Sanida Dairy Products to park one person on the boardwalk overlooking the median. In the middle of the halfway was a ‘talking cow’, which young children could ask questions or hear the cow’s comments. Of course, the children could not see where the “cow” could see them to talk with them. It was an entertaining event.

In the early 2000s, Dreamland Ballroom was used for special concerts in an effort to raise money for the park. In 2006, bands such as ‘Pure Gold’, ‘Johnny Angel and the Halos’ and ‘The Edsels’ headlined the shows, featuring 1950s ‘oldies’ music.

Two years later, on February 1, 2008, Dreamland Ballroom was the victim of arson and set on fire.

There was no insurance to rebuild and the site was cleared and is still vacant.

About Keith Johnson

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