Crystal Ballroom celebrates 100th birthday

Crystal Ballroom celebrates 100th birthday

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by Joe Smith, KGW Business Reporter

kgw.com

Posted on January 21, 2014 at 7:02 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jan 22 at 6:34 AM

PORTLAND-- Tuesday is a big birthday party at the Crystal Ballroom. It's a celebration for itself.

This is a milestone for a ballroom that, over the years, has had several lives since it opened in 1914 on West Burnside Street.

The party will pay tribute to what this place has meant to the dance and music history of Portland.

When it opened a century ago, it was called the Cotillion Hall. Jazz dance was all the rage and that enraged city leaders. That type of dance was very controversial at the time.

"When they built this, it was a rehearsal studio for Ringler the Dance Master. The first floor was a service garage in an auto dealership," said Tim Halls, historian for McMenamin's, which now owns the space.

The original owner, Montrose Ringler, lost the building when jazz dancing was banned. New owners in the 1920s held square dances.

In the 1930s, the hall was renamed the Crystal Ballroom.

The mild, non-threatening dancing continued into the sixties. But, a need for more revenue brought R&B acts to the stage.

James Brown, Marvin Gaye and Ike and Tina Turner all performed there.

But in 1967 the ballroom took a turn that would lead to it shutting its doors. It went for more psychedelic acts.

City leaders were concerned over the use of drugs, sex and rock-and-roll.

After  that, the Crystal Ballroom was virtually inactive for nearly 30 years, save for private events.

In 1997, McMenamin's came to the rescue.

"I think everybody looks at this place as a goal to aspire to if your a young and upcoming band. I think a lot of bands at a higher level have gotten their first Portland start here." said Jimi Biron, McMenamin's Minister of Fun.

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