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Surf Ballroom: Wikis


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The Surf Ballroom is a Historic Rock and Roll Landmark at 460 North Shore Drive, Clear Lake, Iowa on the northeast shore of a lake of the same name.

The Surf Ballroom was designated an official Rock and Roll Hall of Fame historical landmark by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum on January 28, 2009. The ceremony giving landmark status to the site kicked off a week-long celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the fateful Winter Dance Party concert on February 2, 1959.[1]



It was originally built in 1933, burned down in 1947, and rebuilt in 1948, across the street from its original location. It still hosts numerous events and has a seating capacity of 2,100 and a 6,300-square-foot (590 m2) dance floor. Attached to the building is the Surfside 6 Cafe. The facility includes a museum of music memorabilia and a Hall of Fame of the many famous artists who performed at the venue. The Surf Ballroom is currently owned by the Snyder family of Clear Lake and is open to the public daily. The exterior of the ballroom, and the neighborhood around it, have changed very little since the 1950s. Backstage, in an area known as "The Green Room," acts that have played in the ballroom, such as Little River Band, Loverboy, The Righteous Brothers, The Temptations, The Beach Boys, Waylon Jennings and Bobby Rydell have signed their names on the whitewashed walls, as well as have had photos of themselves placed on a wall, alongside those of early rock and roll pioneers. The three largest pictures on the wall are memorials to the tragedy of the shortened lives of three iconic rock and roll legends.

The Day the Music Died

Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and The Big Bopper, three of the most popular rock and roll stars from the 1950s, performed at the ballroom on February 2, 1959. Immediately after the show, they drove to nearby Mason City airport and chartered a small plane to take them to Fargo, North Dakota to play their next show at the Moorhead Armory, Moorhead, Minnesota[2]. Shortly after takeoff, the young pilot Roger Peterson flew into bad weather and, in a lethal combination of spatial disorientation and misinterpteting an instrument, flew the plane into the ground, killing everyone aboard. A concrete monument was erected outside the ballroom and a stainless steel monument was placed in the field where the plane crashed. The ballroom is adorned with large pictures of Holly, and a street flanking the facility's east property line is named Buddy Holly Place in his honor.

Winter Dance Party Tour

The ballroom hosts an annual tribute on the anniversary of Holly's last performances. The 'Winter Dance Party Tour' is a tribute tour to Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, the Big Bopper and early rock and roll. This reproduction of the tour ends every year at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa, every February 2, the anniversary of the last concerts of the three iconic early rock and roll performers, a memorial service to the three officially ends the tour the following day, February 3, the day the deaths of Holly, Valens, and Richardson were announced to the world.


  1. ^ "Surf Ballroom Recognized", Mason City (IA) Globe Gazette, Peggy Senzarino, Thursday, January 29, 2009
  2. ^ Minneapolis Star/Tribune January 25th, 2009

External links

Coordinates: 43°08′23″N 93°23′23″W / 43.139657°N 93.3898088°W / 43.139657; -93.3898088



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