The Surf Ballroom & Museum | Midwest Living

The Surf Ballroom & Museum

460 N. Shore Dr.
Clear Lake  Iowa  50428
United States
(641) 357-6151
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    - Doug Clough
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Midwest Living Review

Big-name concerts still pack this ballroom with a sober place in rock n' roll history.

The Surf is best known for the final gig that Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper played prior to their fateful plane ride in February 1959, when all three perished in a northern Iowa corn field. As soon as you walk into the Surf Ballroom, you're immediately drawn back in time with a hardwood dance floor, pineapple wallpaper, murals of clouds and surf, rows of booths and a stage assembled of what appears to be risers you might find in a 1950s gymnasium. It's not necessary to know the history of the ballroom (which opened in 1933) to have this feeling, but it certainly deepens its appeal. When you attend a show at the Surf, people hover in the museum mesmerized by the visual history and memorabilia. Conversations spring up among people you've never met as you talk about the ballroom learning its place in history. In fact, each February, visitors from around the world come to the Surf for the annual Winter Dance Party to experience the atmosphere and view the rock n' roll artifacts. In 2009, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland dedicated the Surf Ballroom as a historic rock and roll landmark.Stars such as country singer Phil Vassar, who performed at The Surf June of 2010, often acknowledge Holly in their acts. During his performance in June 2010, he sang "That'll be the Day" and touted Holly as a great songwriter.A donation of $5 is suggested for admission to The Surf Museum and Gift Shop, which is open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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