03 May DR. PATRICK’S POSTCARD ROADSIDE: Surf Ballroom
On the Day the Music Died, February 3, 1959, the plane that lifted Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson into a fateful snowstorm departed from Clear Lake, Iowa, bound for the next venue on their Winter Dance Party tour in Moorhead, Minnesota.
Their final performance was at Clear Lake’s Surf Ballroom. With dancing America’s favorite communal activity ballrooms and nightclubs were scattered across the commercial roadside. Carl Fox opened the Surf Ballroom in 1934, adding another attraction to the amusement park and spring-fed lake already in this vacation spot of north central Iowa. The South Seas island-themed ballroom depicted on this postcard, however, was not the one that hosted the Winter Dance Party. This ball room burned to the ground on April 20, 1947. The Winter Dance Part was hosted in its Modernist replacement, which continues to operate.