Much of the information below comes from the book Excelsior’s Waterfront: The History of the Excelsior Commons and Excelsior Docks, written by Scott D. McGinnis (2008). Many thanks to Scott for going through this material with me to clarify all the different venues. His extraordinarily well-researched book is available for $10 at the Excelsior-Lake Minnetonka Historical Society.
NOTE: This page does not include other ballrooms (“pavilions” or “casinos”) on the Excelsior waterfront at the turn of the last century; that information is on a separate page about Excelsior’s Dance Halls.
Unless otherwise cited, the indented quotations are from the Minnetonka Record newspaper.
The building we came to know as Danceland has been known by many names and gone through several owners.
This $10,000 building was built by Everel O. Beach in 1904. Beach originally wanted to build it on the Excelsior Commons, which was public property in Excelsior owned by the Park Board. Although the Village Council approved a lease, saying it would enhance the otherwise unsightly area, Beach withdrew his proposal for fear of opposition from residents. Instead he built it on the grounds of the Tonka Bay Hotel (originally called the Lake Park Hotel), which had been purchased by Thomas Lowry in 1902.
Beach had borrowed the construction funds from Lowry, who was then stuck with the debt when Beach fled Minnesota in the Fall of 1904 as he was about to be indicted for embezzling funds from the Minnesota Transfer Railway Company. In 1930, Beach was a resident of the Illinois State Penitentiary at Joliet.
TONKA BAY PAVILION
The building was renamed the Tonka Bay Pavilion and was used for dancing and roller skating. It was apparently also referred to as the Tonka Bay Casino.
On January 23, 1920, Horace Lowry, president of the Twin City Lines (streetcar), offered the Tonka Bay roller skating pavilion as a gift to the Excelsior park board for use on the Excelsior Commons. Bonds would have to be voted on to raise funds to move the building from Tonka Bay to Excelsior. “It would serve as a center for housing summer concerts and entertainments and would afford shelter to picnic crowds in case of sudden storm.”
On October 13, 1922: It was reported that Eber Armagost and J.E. McNiece of Excelsior had purchased the Tonka Bay casino and were having it razed. “The lumber will be used to build a new casino at the street railway dock station in Excelsior. It will be 100×150 feet and will be completed by spring. J.E. Weinholz has the contract.” Armagost worked for the trolley company.
In the winter of 1922/1923, instead of being razed, this building was dismantled, the porch was removed, and the structure was moved across the bay to the Commons. It opened in its new location on May 5, 1923. The floor, again used for roller skating and dancing, measured 75 x 150.
Legend has it that the porches were removed and the building was towed across the frozen Lake Minnetonka from Tonka Bay to Excelsior. It seems that if that had happened it would have certainly been sensational enough to be in the newspaper, but I found no such report. Further confusing the matter is an article from July 1953:
Joe Weinholz, the Excelsior contractor, told the story of how he and his crew moved the 66×140-foot structure from Tonka Bay:
First they took apart the roof boards and took down the trusses. Then off came the porches. The walls were sawed into 14×22-foot sections and carried down to the shore and slid over the bank on to a barge. From there, they were carried across the lake to the shore of what is now the Amusement Park and then rolled across the road to the present site of the ballroom. The timbers and underwork of the building, and the floor sheeting were all loaded on trucks and brought over to Excelsior.
Does the word “barge” imply open water?
LAKE VIEW PARK PAVILION
May 4, 1923:
Lake View Park Pavilion, the new casino near the dock station in Excelsior, will open Saturday evening with a ball. The pavilion is the former roller skating rink that stood on the lake front at Tonka Bay. It was purchased last fall by E. Armsogost and J.E. McNiece, taken down in sections and re-constructed in Excelsior.
The pavilion occupies a strategic position here. It is on the Yellowstone Trail, at the dock station, where all trolley cars stop before entering the heart of town and near the shore of Excelsior Bay, which has been dredged out and will be provided with piers for the landing of boats. The dancing floor is 75×150 feet, said to be the largest public dancing floor in the northwest. It will accommodate 2000 persons without crowding.
The pavilion will be operated on a strictly high class basis. Special precautions will be taken against liquor and improprieties. The grounds will be brilliantly lighted. There will be a double row of ornamental lights from the dock station to the entrance of the pavilion. Byron D. Wilson will be in charge of policing the building and grounds, with assistants on duty at all hours. Mr. McNiece will be actual manager of the pavilion and will have dance floor managers to see that nothing improper is permitted.
There is room for parking 500 automobiles on the grounds. Watchmen will be on duty to protect patrons’ cars.
It is the plan of the proprietors to erect additional buildings at the end of the season. There will be buildings devoted to various forms amusements added, until an amusement park of large proportions is assembled.
Lake View Park dancing pavilion had its Grand Opening on Friday, May 25, 1923, with souvenirs and novelties for all. There was dancing every Wednesday and Saturday; Gents got in for 55 cents, Ladies for 30 cents. Music was provided by the Clarence Peterson Lake View Park Orchestra.
DANCING ON SUNDAY!
Lake View Park Pavilion introduced dances on Sundays in July 1923. This caused consternation among the members of the Women’s Club, supported by “the church people.” “The question is being discussed as a moral problem People are debating whether Excelsior should abandon its time honored custom and be the first village in the lake region to permit the operation of public dance halls on Sunday.” The question was left up to a public referendum that was held on Saturday, July 21, 1923. Despite a big “Vote NO!” ad in the Record, the tally was 252 for Sunday dancing and 205 against.
A “monster dance” was held on Hallowe’en 1923 at Lake View Park Pavilion. Tickets were sold for two months prior, with the prize of a five passenger Star touring car promised as the prize. Although the music was deemed “adequate,” the party was a great success, and the car was won by Miss Hazel Holman, who worked for the George H. Hasher Grocery Store.
October 26, 1923: Lake View Pavilion to Have Heating Plant. Two hot air furnaces were installed for Saturday dances. Basketball games were also held in the pavilion.
April 26 was the start of the 1924 dancing season, with Saturday night dances until the regular summer season began in June. Music was again provided by Clarence Peterson’s Lake View Orchestra (eight pieces). Eber Armoagost received a six months’ leave of absence by the trolley company so he could devote his time to the Pavilion.
In September 1924, what would become Excelsior Amusement Park was first proposed by the Fred W. Pearce Amusement Company of Detroit. “An overhead bridge of ram (or tram?) leading over the Yellowstone Trail (Excelsior Blvd. – Highway 7 wasn’t built yet) to the Lake View Pavilion are included in the plans.”
On March 27, 1925, the Excelsior Athletic Association put on a show that included:
- Kiddie Kar Polo games
- Basketball games (Excelsior fats vs. Excelsior leans – “Last year the leans had it on the fats, but the fats have been training and are fatter this year, and should be able to hold their own.”)
- Wrestling and boxing matches among local boys
- Music by the Excelsior Band
EXCELSIOR AMUSEMENT PARK OPENS
Excelsior Amusement Park opened on May 23, 1925, on property which originally housed a terminal for ferry boats to Big Island Amusement Park.
The ballroom was sometimes called the Lake View Pavilion, and sometimes the Excelsior Dance Pavilion.
An ad in May 1925 announced that there was a dance every Saturday night at the Lake View Pavilion.
September 11, 1925: Although the end of the Lake season was at hand, “The Lake View Pavilion, which has become the most popular dance pavilion around the lake, will continue to have dances three nights during the week, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday.”
On March 31, 1926, a program with 19 pieces was presented by the Excelsior band, directed by H.O. Carciofini. One of the numbers was “By the Waters of Minnetonka.” Dancing followed.
In the off-season, roller skating took over the pavilion full time, accompanied by the “Six-piece Union Band” every Saturday and Sunday night.
EXCELSIOR PARK PAVILION
March 25, 1927:
McNiece Revives Roller Skating: J.E. McNiece, proprietor of the Excelsior Park Pavilion, will open the pavilion Sunday night for roller skating and will continue three nights a week through the spring and summer months. During the summer, skating will be alternated with dances three nights a week. There will be music for the skaters as well as for the dances.
April 1, 1927:
J.E. McNiece will open the dancing season at the Excelsior Park Pavilion on April 16 [with an Apple Blossom Dance]. Special music for the opening night has been engaged…. Mr. McNiece’s dances have always been clean and orderly and he says the same high standard will be maintained through the coming season.
The annual concert of the Excelsior Band took place on April 22, 1927, at the Excelsior Park pavilion. In addition to the concert numbers, “special entertainers” were promised. Proceeds went to support the band, which was directed by Mr. Carciofini.
The summer of 1927 schedule at the Excelsior Park Pavilion started out with dances every Saturday night and roller skating every Sunday afternoon and evening. During June, July, and August, the dance schedule changed to every Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday night. Roller skating (also accompanied by music) was available Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday nights. In August the dances scaled back to Saturday nights only, with roller skating expanded to every night except Saturday.
THE AUDITORIUM ORTHOPHONIC
The Amusement Park opened for the 1927 season on May 14, with new Park Manager Samuel Benjamin. The Park featured a new picnic pavilion that could accommodate 1,500 picnic-goers. A stage was provided for speakers and performers of organizations.
On the stage is being installed a foremost achievement of the music world, the newly-invented auditorium orthophonic. Pearce explained:
The Auditorium Orthophonic presents singers, bands, orchestras, choruses and choirs as though the artists themselves were appearing before you. You may sit as close as you please, or you may be three miles away from the Orthophonic and in either case you will hear it just as distinctly and without distortion or mechanical sound of any kind.
Here is a photo of one found online:
Free concerts at the new picnic shelter were given every afternoon and evening.
On August 13 and 14, 1927, the Excelsior Park Pavilion hosted special dances with Hal Keller’s 8-piece Band, just back from a nine month tour. Keller was formerly with Isham Jones’ Orchestra in Chicago. New prices: Ladies 25c, Gents 50c.
A Gala Corn Carnival was held at the Park from August 21 to September 5, 1927. Every night there was a masquerade contest with a different theme each night. The ad also promised “Confetti Battles, Rube Bands, Parade of all Masqueraders, Special Added Attractions.” A new “Auditorium Orthophonic” was installed in the ballroom. It appears to be a huge speaker.
The October 1st, 1927, Saturday dance was called the Kiss Dance, with music by the Original Royal Vagabonds – Eight Master Players, Singers, Entertainers. Ladies and Gents both 50 cents. “Boys, bring your lady friends.”
What’s this? In an ad for a basketball game between the Williams Brothers of St. Louis Park (Yea!) and Excelsior on January 18, 1928, the paper called the venue the Lake View Pavilion. There’s a missing issue of the Record, and then on January 27, 1928, it’s back to the Excelsior Pavilion. Another game between the Excelsior Firemen and the Minneapolis Business College on February 25, 1928, was described as being at the Excelsior Park Pavilion.
EXCELSIOR GARDEN PAVILION
April 27, 1928:
The Excelsior Garden Pavilion, formerly the Excelsior Park pavilion, opened for the season with a dance Saturday evening. There will be dancing every Saturday Night until May 30. From then on the pavilion will be open every night throughout the season. There will be a new orchestra each week. J. E. McNiece is proprietor.
Striking effects are obtained in the decorations. The large room is made to represent a garden. In the center appears a rugged tree. From this point paths diverge in several directions. The floor is stained a forest green. The walls are treated to carry out the forest and garden effect.
An ad that same day promised: “Something New and Different. Come dance in the garden on the green. Eddie Corlew and his Aristocrats, formerly at the Merigold (sic), will furnish the music Saturday night, April 28th. Ladies 25c, Gents 50c.”
May 11, 1928:
The Excelsior Garden Pavilion, J.E. McNiece, proprietor, opened the season with all new decorations that emphasize its attractive name. The main dance hall is being transformed into a veritable garden, with simulated paths radiating from a large spreading shade tree in the center of the room. While the Pavilion has been open for more than three weeks with regular dance nights, Mr. McNiece plans to have the place in ship shape for the grand opening May 30.
EXCELSIOR DANCING PAVILION
Having a tree in the middle of a dance floor might not have worked.
On October 30, 1928, the Excelsior Dancing Pavilion was sold at a sheriff’s sale to the Fred W. Pearce Corp., the owners of the Excelsior Amusement Park.
The new owners announce that extensive improvements will be made that will make the pavilion one of the finest ball rooms in Minnesota, and that the very best orchestras will be engaged during the summer months, which together with elaborate lighting effects will unndoubtedly result in enormous crowds from the Twin Cities. (November 2, 1928)
On November 6, 1928, election returns were broadcast on the “Mighty Orthophonic,” and dancing followed. Music for the November 17 dance was provided by Wesley Barlow’s Hotel Nicollet Orchestra (Ten Pieces).
The Excelsior Dancing Pavilion was inaugurated on Friday, May 10, with a function held by a group of University students. The Amusement Park opened on May 11, 1929.
The dance pavilion has been re-decorated inside and out. A 10-piece orchestra, Red Clark and His Play Boys, has been engaged for the season. There will be dancing every night from May 11 on. Sam Benjamin and Fred W. Clapp are managing the park, the same as formerly. (May 3, 1929)
August 31, 1929 was KSTP Grandpa Reception Day (?) at the Park, celebrated with a Big Dance Carnival every night from August 31 to September 8. Novelties, balloons, hats, horns, and noisemakers were all provided – “Everything to make Whoopee.” Wally Erickson and His Wonderful Orchestra provided the music.
From 1930 until his death in 1956 the manager was Rudy Shogran, who is described as a “master of the promo.” One of his stunts was to provide motorcycle escorts to bring national acts performing downtown at the Orpheum out after their shows. Dance bands that performed at the hall in the 1930s through the 1950s included:
- George Ganz and His Golden Gate Orchestra
- The Wally Erickson Orchestra
- Frank Gordon and the Vanity Fair Orchestra
- The Red Seivers Orchestra
- Gould’s Banjo Band
- Ace Brigade and His Virginians
- Mildred Couch and Her Rosebuds – each woman at the dance was given a rose
- Bud Strawn Orchestra – house band for 15 years. Vernon H. Strawn retired from music to become a tax accountant and died in 1953 at age 39.
Pre-season opening of the Excelsior Amusement Park was Saturday, April 30 and May 1, 1932. Music in the ballroom was provided by Rudy Clemenson and his St. Paul Athletic Club Orchestra. The orchestra had been increased to 11 pieces during it winter broadcasts over WCCO Radio. The official grand opening for the year was scheduled for May 14 and 15. “Happy Days Are Here Again!”
Excelsior Park held its pre-season opening on May 5 and 6, 1934, with dancing to George Ganz and His Golden Gate Orchestra.
The official Grand Opening was on May 12 and 13, with music by Frank Gordon and his Orchestra with Gertrude Carpenter.
July 19, 1934, was the WCCO Artists’ Frolic – See and Hear Your Favorite Radio Stars In Person – 50 Entertainers – Jack Malerich’s Pure Oil Band and a Galaxy of Stars!
On September 1, 1934, famed Siamese twins Daisy and Violet Hilton came to the Park. A problem arose when Violet decided she wanted to marry a trombone player in their orchestra. The lovestruck couple tried to get a marriage license in each town they appeared in but were denied on the grounds that the man would be marrying two women and that, my friends, is bigamy. An article in the Minneapolis Journal warned the Clerk of the District Court that they would be trying again when they came to town! The story of this unsuccessful attempt at marriage (and two successful but ultimately undone marriages) is told in this article.
Excelsior Amusement Park had its pre-season opening on April 27 and 28, 1935, with music by Wally Erickson and His Orchestra.
- The following weekend, May 4-5, music was provided by Rudy Clemenson and His Orchestra.
- June 14 was a repeat of last year’s WCCO show, featuring 40 entertainers: featured radio artists (including Tena of Tena and Tim), a 14-piece dance orchestra, Halsey Hall, and prominent members of the Minneapolis baseball team. The program was under the direction of Al Sheehan, popular Northwest radio personality.
- May 18-31 featured Norvy Mulligan and His Orchestra, Direct from the Radisson Hotel, Minneapolis. Don’t miss dancing to this great NBC orchestra appearing every night and featuring such favorites as the Glee Club, Virginia Brenna, Harry Cool, and Maxie Ryan.
- August 9 was the WDGY Artists’ Show, featuring your favority WDGY radio entertainers in person and the Joe Cappo Orchestra. (Hennepin County Review)
The 1937 pre-season opening of Excelsior Amusement Park was April 24, 1937, with music by Bud Strawn and His Orchestra. The Grand Opening of the Excelsior Park Ballroom was Friday, May 21, 1937, with dancing nightly thereafter. Music was provided by Bud Strawn and by Phil Lavant and His Orchestra (April 30 to May 2 only). The Twin City High School Night was held on May 14.
In 1939 the park began to sponsor a Twin City High School Fun Night, featuring a dance band in the ballroom and free rides. Thousands of kids would converge on the park, with special transportation arranged. These dances appear to have replaced annual Commencement Dances.
The first Twin City High School Jamboree took place on May 17, 1939, with music provided by Jimmy Pidgeon and his Campus Band.
The Twin City High School Fun Night took place on May 24, 1940, with music by Tiny Hill.
The Twin City High School Fun Night took place on May 16, 1941.
Ace Brigode and His Virginians – A 5-Star Dance Band – appeared by Popular Request at the Excelsior Park Ballroom on September 12-14, the 14th being the last night of the season. The Park’s last day of the season was September 21.
Ace Brigode and His Orchestra (“Your Favorite Name Band”) appeared at Excelsior Park Ballroom on May 15, 1942, for the third annual Twin City High School Fun Nite.
Excelsior Park Ballroom presented Jimmy Barnett and His Orchestra from June 5 to 11, 1942, “Dispensing Dance Rhythm As You Like It.” Followed by Cliff Keyes and His Orchestra on June 12.
Lawrence Welk and His Champaign Music was the featured attraction at the Excelsior Park Ballroom on June 16, 1942. Featured were songstress Jane Walton and Jerry Burke on the electric organ. After the Welk show, Cliff Keyes and his orchestra followed for dancing. All for 66 cents!
It’s very possible that there was no Twin City Fun Night in 1943. I found no ads, and the numbering seems to bear this out.
The Excelsior Amusement Park Pre-Season opening All Twin City High School Night was held on Friday, May 12, 1944. Danceland hosted Bud Strawn and his (TC Favorite) Orchestra, featuring Betty Jacobson, soloist.
Danceland also had an annual commencement dance on Thursday, June 15 at 1 am.
The Excelsior Park High School Jamboree was held on May 11, 1945, where students were invited to jitterbug to Bud Strawn’s Orchestra. (Check this)
Twin City High School Nite at Excelsior Amusement Park was May 10, 1946, with music by Bud Strawn and His Orchestra.
Twin City High School Nite at Excelsior Amusement Park was May 9, 1947, with music by Bud Strawn and His Orchestra.
Excelsior Park held its annual Suburban High School Pre-Opening Dance on April 14, 1948, featuring Bud Strawn and His Orchestra.
The annual Excelsior Park Pre-Season Suburban High School Dance was held on April 13, 1949, with Bud Strawn’s (new) Orchestra.
The Twin City High School Fun Night was held on May 12, 1950, with Bud Strawn’s Orchestra.
The tenth annual Miss Minnesota contest was held at the Park on August 13, 1950. Cedric Adams of WCCO was the emcee of the bathing suit competition, and Jack Thayer of WLOL was the emcee of the evening gown and talent competitions. Music was provided by Bud Strawn’s Orchestra, the park’s house band.
Excelsior Amusement Park had its annual Pre-Season Opening April 20-21, 1951. Dancing (in heated ballroom) Friday and Saturday nights featured Steve Dunning and his Dance Stylists. The April 10 St. Louis Park High Echo included an ad for the event, billed as the Annual Twin City and Suburban High School Jamboree: “10,000 Students attended the Jamboree last year – Don’t miss this annual event – All Students Going”
Excelsior Amusement Park had its Pre-Season Opening starting on April 25, 1952. Dancing (in heated ballroom) Friday and Saturday nights featured Les Williams and His Music From Paradise.
The April 22 St. Louis Park High Echo included an ad for the Annual Twin City and Suburban High School Jamboree, which took place on May 9: “10,000 Students attended the Jamboree last year – Don’t miss this annual event – All Students Going”
In 1952 Excelsior Park hosted the 12th annual Miss Minnesota-Universe Pageant, directed by Rudy Shogran. Cedric Adams of WCCO radio was the emcee of the bathing suit competition, and Jack Thayer of WLOL emceed the evening gown and talent competitions. Music was provided by Les Williams and His Orchestra.
The Twin City High School Fun Night took place on May 8, 1953, with Chuck Eddy providing the music.
A series of big name orchestras performed at the Excelsior Park Ballroom in 1953:
- May 27: Stan Kenton appeared with his 22 piece band
- July 17: Ralph Flanagan
- July 25: Frankie Carle, his piano and orchestra
- August 7: Jan Garber – “The Idol of the Airlanes”
The Miss Minnesota-Universe Pageant took place at the Park on June 16, 1957, directed by Ray Colihan. Jack Thayer of WDGY was the emcee and music was provided by singer Gloria Greer, the Joe Kimble Trio, and the Showoffs.
The Twin City High School Jamboree took place on May 14, 1954, featuring the very popular Dick Kast and his Orchestra.
The 15th annual Excelsior Amusement Park Teenage Jamboree was held on May 13, 1955. Entertainment was by Dick Kast’s Orchestra.
Excelsior Amusement Park held its annual Teenage Jamboree on May 11, 1956. Entertainment was by Chuck Eddy’s Orchestra.
This was the last year that the Ballroom hosted regular dances until it was reopened as Big Reggie’s Danceland in 1961.
The Excelsior Amusement Park’s 1957 Teen Jamboree, held on May 10, featured Dick Davis’s Orchestra.
In 1961 Will Jones reported that the Ballroom had been “dark since 1957 except for occasional rentals.”
The Miss Minnesota-Universe Pageant took place at Excelsior Amusement Park on June 16, 1957, directed by Ray Colihan. Jack Thayer of WDGY was the emcee and music was provided by singer Gloria Greer, the Joe Kimble Trio, and the Showoffs.
The Twin City and Suburban High School Jamboree took place on May 9, 1958. Dick Kast’s Orchestra provided the music.
Otherwise, according to Will Jones, the Ballroom was “dark” except for occasional rentals.
Excelsior Amusement Park held its 20th annual Twin City & Suburban High School Jamboree on May 8, 1959. “10,000 students attended last year.” They said that every year.
Otherwise, according to Will Jones, the Ballroom was “dark” except for occasional rentals.
The annual Excelsior Park Teenage Jamboree took place on May 13, 1960. The ad in the SLP Echo did not name the entertainment.
Otherwise, according to Will Jones, the Ballroom was “dark” except for occasional rentals.
BIG REGGIE’S DANCELAND
Will Jones tells us that the Ballroom, “dark since 1957 except for occasional rentals, will go into action again this weekend under a new name: Big Reggie’s Danceland. There will be teen-age hops on Fridays and adult-slanted dance sessions on Saturdays.
“The old lobby is being turned into a piano bar and 3.2 tavern for every-night use, and on Sundays small jazz combos will be featured in that room.” The piano bar was called the “Swingalong Room.”
The annual Twin City High School Jamboree took place at Big Reggie’s on May 13, 1961. National artist (and Twin Cities favorite) Brian Hyland performed at a dance and stage show, and local favorite Mike Waggoner and the Bops provided dance music from 8:30 to 11:30.
Friday, May 26, 1961: Wayne Turssso and the Velvetones
Saturday, May 27, 1961: Al Noyce Orchestra in the Ballroom; the Les Friedl Combo in the Swingalong Room
Sunday, May 28, 1961: Rusty and Doug (Doug Kershaw) Teen Dance; the Dixieland Ramblers (see below) in the Swingalong Room
Monday, May 29, 1961: Ralph Hutmaker in the Ballroom; the Les Friedl Combo in the Swingalong Room
Tuesday, May 30, 1961 (This was Memorial Day, before the days of Monday holidays): Mike Waggoner and the Bops
Sunday, May 28 , 1961: The Dixieland Ramblers, a sextet from Edina, made their first weekend appearances in the Swingalong Room. It was stressed that this was no ordinary Dixieland, but a swinging, driving Dixie patterned after the Dukes of Dixieland. Note the early Big Reggie’s logo on the ad below:
July 19, 1961: Larry Mintz and the Nitebeats
On August 1, 1961, the law changed regarding “bottle clubs” – places where it was legal for patrons to bring their own alcohol. The law now forbade licensed dance halls to also have bottle club permits. Bottle club permits were ordered returned from a long list of ballrooms in Minnesota, including Danceland.
Friday, October 6, 1961: Garry Miles and the Casuals
Saturday, October 7, 1961: Conway Twitty
*Please Note: Despite what you may have read, the Beach Boys were at Danceland in 1963, not 1962. Big Reggie was prescient, but not that prescient.
WDGY High School Fun Day and Night took place on May 12, 1962. This fun-filled day featured:
- Dancing from noon to five to Mike Waggoner and the Bops and the Doradoes
- A Twist Contest (you could not escape the Twist in 1962)
- A Saturday night Battle of the Bands, featuring the Ricochets and the Doradoes
- Three WDGY Disk Jockeys try to break the world’s DJ Roller Coaster Record of 47 rides
Teen dances were featured at Danceland every Friday and Saturday night.
May 30, 1962, was Memorial Day and a huge day at Danceland! A show costing a mere $1.85 presented:
- Del Shannon
- Brian Hyland
- The Belmonts
- Jamie Coe (“Cleopatra”)
- Kenny Chandler (“It Might Have Been”)
- The Gigolos
In June 1962, Excelsior was the scene of a four day “Jazz-Arts Festival” at the Minnetonka Center of Arts. One of the highlights was entertainment by teenagers in the Minnetonka area, including a twist contest won by Pam Witcher and Tom Punch. Doc Evans’ Dixieland band provided the music. The Minneapolis Daily Herald, which was picking up the slack during the Star and Tribune strike, featured kids doing the twist and the mashed potato at Excelsior Park. Barbara Linow (?) sang with Tom Sechrest’s band.
July 4, 1962, entertainment included a “free, outdoor Twistathon. Qualifying rounds will start at 2:30 in the afternoon and the finals will be at 7 pm on the Fourth of July. Cash prizes will be awarded to the winners.” Twist music provided by the Champs (“Tequila,” – which was actually recorded by Glen Campbell). Bill Diehl was the Twistmaster. Okay, it says MC.
Friday, August 10, 1962: The Doradoes
Saturday, August 11, 1962: The Champs
Tuesday, August 14, 1962: Mike Waggoner and the Bops
WDGY was back on Sunday, September 9, 1962, for a Back to School Fun Day, words that do not go together. Within the hours of 1 to 3 pm, they promised:
- Battle of the Bands, with the Corvets, Mike Waggoner, and the Doradoes
- Free Rides
- Contests and prizes galore, including Grand Prize Drawing
- The Weegee Wagon, compliments of Brady Olds, St. Paul
- All the Weegee personalities:
- Terry Rose
- T. Thomas Wynn
- Bill Diehl
- Paul Johnson
- Perry St. John
Photos above and below courtesy Excelsior-Lake Minnetonka Historical Society
THE BEACH BOYS AT DANCELAND
Twin City High School Night for 1963 was on Friday, May 3. And it was a doozy!
In February 1963, Colihan booked the Beach Boys to perform for that year’s Twin Cities High School show and dance, reported for only $400. At the time they were booked, the group had charted four records on the Billboard charts, notably “Surfin’ Safari,” which entered the chart in August 1962 and reached #14, but they hadn’t had any top 10 hits. Then, on March 23, 1963, “Surfin’ USA” entered the chart, a monster hit eventually reaching #3. So by May 3, 1963, they were BIG, and Colihan had scored a real coup.
The Minnetonka Record predicted:
Thousands and thousands of teenagers from the metropolitan area and suburbs will attend the annual Twin City High School Night at Excelsior Amusement Park and Danceland on Friday, May 3. The special night for high school students will be the twenty-fourth annual event held at Excelsior Amusement Park and there will be free rides, special entertainment, reduced ride rates and dancing during the full evening’s program.
Feature of the evening will be the appearance of the popular top 40 recording stars, The Beach Boys, direct from California. They will headline a free stage show on the outdoor stage of the amusement part from 6:30 to 7 pm Friday. Then they will play for dancing in Danceland starting at 8:30 pm.
The amusement park will throw all rides open free to the high school students between 5 and 7 pm and there will be reduced rates throughout the rest of the evening.
Last year, over 8,000 students from the metropolitan and suburban area attended the annual high school night event at Excelsior Park…
The problem was that thousands and thousands of kids DID show up, jamming Highway 7 for miles around. Colihan was afraid the enthusiastic teens would tear down the roller coaster. As it was they were tearing out the screens and crawling in the windows of Danceland. Police and firemen were called in to control the chaos.
In 1974 Reggie remembered the chaos in an interview in the Insider:
The night the Beach Boys were there, the kids blocked the whole street off. The cops called the fire truck and they were going to turn the hose on them. The kids weren’t doing anything, just standing ’round. They wanted to get as close as they could to the door to hear the music, ya know it was packed inside. So I blocked the street off and let them stand there. One cop wanted to get them off the street so he called the fire chief to come down. I told the chief that the cop wanted to turn the hose on the kids. The chief said, “turn the hose on those kids?” and I was laughing already. I said if you turn the hose on those kids they’ll take their shirts off and will romp ’round and probably turn this fire truck over, and I don’t blame them. With that, the chief said “I ain’t going to have this fire truck turned over,” so he backed it out with the siren blazing and that was the end of it.
In an interview with the Tribune’s Michael Anthony (August 8, 1976), Mike Love remembered:
We cruised into Minneapolis, circling the belt line, I think they call it. I think we went around the city twice before we found the place. We were in a station wagon with a little trailer behind it. Six guys: the band and a road manager
Brian and I walked outside the ballroom after the first set – we did four that night – and people were still coming in. The place was sold out and people were breaking the windows trying to get in. And there was a line of cars going about two miles down the road.
I remember thinking, ‘Gee, this must be what it was like for Elvis Presley.’ We had never seen that many people before.
One local legend is that Al Jardine, the Boys’ bass player, had somehow forgotten his bass, and Colihan played bass, so he rented his instrument to them for the show. Believe it – or not.
The citizenry, of course, was outraged, presenting a petition of 30 names to the Village Council asking it to take strong action to halt large “uncontrolled crowds causing disturbances in the village.” The petition charged that “unprecedented numbers of teen-agers brought to the park by a special dance promotion was clearly out of control of the park and village police.” The Mayor and Village Manager met with Colihan to discuss the matter, and they agreed that the crowd was simply more than the park management had expected.
ROUTE 66 IN MINNEAPOLIS
The cast and crew of the hip show Route 66 came to town in July 1963 to film three episodes in Minneapolis. By this time Tod Stiles’ (Martin Milner) original traveling companion, Buz Murdock (George Maharis) has been replaced by Lincoln Case (Glenn Corbett) because Maharis came down with hepatitis. Will Jones reported that the filming took a crew of 60, plus 15 or 20 wives and a couple of dozen children of crew members who travel with the show during the summer. Filming the three hour-long episodes was expected to take about a month. The whole crew stayed free at the Sheraton-Ritz, which was a prominent locale for the first episode.
On July 25, 1963, the Minnetonka Record reported that the crew had been to Parade Stadium and in Excelsior the week before. On August 1 the Record reported that hundreds of onlookers crowded the Excelsior shoreline last week to watch the cast and crew work at the Amusement Park and the Mark Knowlton home in Excelsior. More scenes were being taken at a Hopkins raspberry farm, it reported.
The episode that was probably filmed in Excelsior was:
- “And Make Thunder His Tribute,” aired November 1, 1963. Tod and Linc find work with an eccentric farmer. He is at odds with his son about using any new farming ideas and actually uses a shotgun for noise to scare birds away from his crop. The son and he escalate the battle between them over the possible use of the farm as the site of a motel.
An article in the Star (September 14, 1963), reported that an editorial in the Minnetonka paper charged that Danceland made a “minimum contribution to the community” and was a law enforcement problem. A Rev. Dawes Akers, pastor of Parkers Lake Methodist Church in Plymouth, came to Danceland’s defense, saying that teen-agers need a place to go, and that Danceland was a well-run business with regulations for dress and behavior.
NO BEATLES IN ’64
In April 1964, Big Reggie turned down an opportunity to book the Beatles into the Twin Cities for $20,000 and 60 percent of the gate. He decided it was “a bit too chancy, since by August the group’s popularity may have fallen victim to the notoriously fickle tastes of young fans,” reported Don Morrison of the Star (5/28/1964). Reggie mentioned his tough decision to Bill Diehl, who reported it to WDGY listeners, and Reggie got a pounding. To make up for his blunder, he held a Beatle Day at the Park on June 7, 1964. Morrison:
Beatle records will be given as prizes and a group called the Female Beatles (a most pedestrian name – I would have chosen “The Beatle-Axes”) will sing in the outdoor pavilion. Also, Colihan hopes to get enough signatures for the world’s longest petition,” supplicating our Britannic friends to make their faces to shine upon us.
Another apology was to award two pairs of tickets to see the Beatles at their September 5, 1964, show in Chicago. Hotel and complete transportation were included.
May 8, 1964: WDGY High School Night/ aka School’s Out Spectacular – and spectacular it was, featuring the Trashmen!
Tony Andreason of the Trashmen said, “When you went to a place like Danceland, there was electricity in the air before the band went on. Once things kicked off, bands would feed off the intensity in the room and [off of] the dancers’ requests.”
STOMPIN’ THE NIGHT (AND THE FLOOR) AWAY
Danceland was a mecca for local “stomp” bands like the Trashmen and the Underbeats. In fact, kids stomped a depression in the dance floor at one Underbeats gig, according to an interview at www.minniepaulmusic.com – the girls screamed, the inspector inspected, and the dance continued.
This is Reggie’s account of the incident, from his September 1974 interview in the Insider:
One night, the manager ran across the street to the park – we had a big night going there as well as having a couple thousand kids in the ballroom – to tell me the floor caved in. He was totally panicked. I used to tell the Underbeats not to play foot-stomping music, cuz the kids would stomp away and the floor was liable to cave in. It was an old building and there was twelve feet between the floor and the ground. So we both went tearing into Danceland and I expected to find a mess, legs and arms broken and kids laying in the basement.
Well, we walked through the crowd to the center of the floor and I didn’t know what to expect. “Where is it?” I asked. We got to the middle of the floor and an are of about thirty feet had dropped four inches. A piling had sunk. The kids were just standing ’round. That’s all there was. A big piling had settled. The cops cleared the kids out while I was in the basement. They had two thousand kids out on the street. I came up from the basement and said “where the hell are the kids?” Not one kid yelled rip-off or wanted their money back. I told the cops to let them back in or we’ll have a riot on our hands. The cops said “well how do we know who paid?” I said “It doesn’t matter. Just let them in.” The band started playing and that was the end of it.
The next day I had to take parents through the place to show them it was safe and that nothing serious happened. Hell, the kids went home and told their parents they danced so hard they caved in the floor. The parents would say “I don’t believe ya,” so I had to give tours the next day to the parents. The kids all remembered it. The night the floor caved in.
On June 12, 1964, Danceland scored a coup by booking the Rolling Stones, but that didn’t turn out quite so well – see that story HERE.
Teen dances were held every Friday and Saturday nights in 1964. Other acts that appeared at Danceland included:
- Jerry Lee Lewis
- The Everly Brothers
- Johnny and the Hurricanes
- Hollywood Argyles
- Roy Orbison
Other than perhaps Roy Orbison, these were all acts that performed at the Loon/Mr. Lucky’s as well. I suspect they were all handled by the same management.
Daniel Gabriel provides some details about the fabled dance hall:
Danceland’s door was a thick grey metal affair, soundproofed from the street. Once inside, $1.50 bought a small green ticket and the right to edge past the fat man at the counter into the echoing confines of the hall itself
The moment of entry was always electric. One felt a surge of energy from the sweating crowd. The wooden floor rumbled ominously beneath the syncopated tread of dancing feet. From the stage at the back of the room, a wave of sound washed over the bobbing heads and crashed against the opposite wall. The outside world was forgotten in an instant.
Fixtures were minimal. A small concession stand near the entrance sold popcorn and candy bars. A row of shabby wooden booths ran along a side wall, serving as illicit drinking cubicles and retirement sites for overheated couples.
We rarely availed ourselves of either. On nights when one of our favorite groups was playing, we’d just stand in front of the stage and watch the band work out. One of the unwritten rules of Twin City teen life in the ’60s was not to applaud the band at a dance. Even the wildest of rave-ups was normally met with an eerie silence. A band gauged its success by the pace of the dancing and the number of silent, staring faces clustered at its feet.
On May 22, 1965, there was a “fracas” in Danceland’s parking lot that resulted in the arrest of an 18-year-old. The incident started when a car with three youths entered the parking lot, and deputy sheriff James Parks stopped it. Parks said that they smelled of liquor, although none was found in the car. When he questioned them, they suddenly “clustered around” him in a threatening way. He walked them to the office so he could call their parents, but they ran away. While chasing one of them, Parks tripped, fell, and broke his arm. Somehow one of them was caught and charged with illegal consumption of alcohol by a minor, unlawful escape from custody, and threatening an officer. He was found innocent on a technicality – the judge said that the verdict “didn’t indicate any approval of the boys’ behavior.”
On May 24, 1965, the Excelsior Village Council voted to raise Danceland’s license fee from $150 to $350. The rationale was that the police had been called 24 separate times last year, and the cost of police hours to respond and investigate was about $360. Colihan did not object to the fee raise, but felt he was not getting enough protection for the fee. Danceland employed 11 deputy sheriffs, and Colihan questioned whether extra police were necessary as the Village said they were.
THE DANCELAND GANG WAR OF 1966
In the ’60s, Danceland’s popularity led to clashes between kids who had been drinking or were in gangs. The house gang was Excelsior’s X-Boys, who defended their territory against alien gangs like the Suprees, the Baldies and the Animals. Supposedly there were 13 X-Boys, and they wore green and white letterman-like jackets (known as “primas”). Although the dance hall sold no alcohol, it flowed outside, and fights were common.
Saturday night, April 16, 1966, was the first dance of the season. Colihan and his head of security had heard rumors that there would be trouble, and had put on extra help to handle it. Excelsior had eight cops in three cars, and the Hennepin County Sheriff’s office had about 20 deputies and officers in the area. About 1,200-1,400 kids were at Danceland that night.
Daniel Gabriel explains that the trouble started because the X-Boys wore approximately the same green primas as the toughest gang in town, the Suprees from Minneapolis. 25 to 30 members of the Suprees came to “take over after previous fights with Lake-area boys.”
One group of 8-10 Suprees was turned away “with a minimum of fuss.” At about 9:30 they returned to inform Excelsior Police Chief Earl Halleck that they had found one of their members in the parking lot across from Danceland, between the telephone company office and Huber Funeral Home. The boy had been beaten with a baseball bat: “The only thing that was holding his nose on his face was some outside skin,” according to Halleck. “The [Suprees] saw the blood on the ground where the boy had been and turned, yelling and shouting threats, to march in a double column toward Danceland.”
“Sheriff’s deputies formed a barrier with squad cars and riot sticks across the street about 200 yards from Danceland and prevented them from entering while deputies and Bush Detectives inside the dance hall kept the crowd inside from going out.”
A variation of the story is told by Gabriel:
When two dozen city-bred street toughs in matching primas came crashing through the door, the dance floor cleared. There were screams, heavy thumps and the leather slap of belt on flesh. The exits jammed up with the swift, the floor upended the clumsy. It was chaos. The actual details of the fight are obscured in legend. Some say a boy died in that fight. Others that he just lost a hand.
Actually, a boy ended up with a slashed neck, coming within a half inch of being killed. He said he had fallen on a beer bottle. It was unclear if he was part of the gang confrontation or not.
The next day the Excelsior Village Council held an emergency session and voted unanimously to suspend Danceland’s license for a period not to exceed 30 days for disturbances in the parking lot, in front of the building, and in other places in the village.
Also that next day, about 30 Suprees came to speak to Halleck, asking for the name of the person who had beat up their fellow member “and indicated they were ‘unhappy’ with the treatment they had received in Excelsior. Halleck told them it was none of their business and sent them on their way. … Some of the group returned on April 20 for further talks, bringing a social worker with them.”
A public hearing at the Excelsior Village Hall was held on April 28. The hearing was requested by James Moran, attorney for the Park. Moran requested that the license be reinstated, arguing “that the brawl was not the fault of Danceland and that the license suspension has caused substantial financial losses to its owner.” The hearing was continued at the Council meeting on May 2, lasting seven hours in all
The license was returned On May 6, with conditions, including:
- At least 10 policemen had to be stationed in and around the premises on dance nights.
- Dancers had to wear “suitable attire.”
- The council tried to work out a dress code, but “got mired in the details of girls’ fashions.” They decided to leave it up to the Village Manager and Colihan to work out the details. The ultimate code required boys to wear shirts with collars and to tuck them into their slacks. Boys had to wear leather shoes, not tennis shoes or sandals. Girls could wear Bermudas but nothing shorter. No bare midriffs and no “T-shirt-type fashions.”
- More lighting had to be installed in the parking lots.
- Patrons who left the hall had to pay an extra admission to go back in.
- The cigarette machine had to be removed.
- In compliance with a 1919 law, anyone under 18 had to have permission from their parents. Although Colihan said that this law was largely ignored in the dancehall business, he agreed to the condition.
- Colihan had to make a report to the Council after a dance on the number of liquor violations there were and the disposition of each.
- Danceland had to pay the cost of extra police on riot nights.
In an interesting note, the gang member who got beat up with the baseball bat sued the Village of Excelsior for $100,000 for negligence in keeping the peace! The article didn’t give the name of the kid. Another article reported that Barry Reoh, 17, of Edina was treated at General Hospital for cuts and bruises received in the fight, but he might have been the one slashed with the beer bottle.
For some reason (maybe because of the trouble with gangs), I found no ads for Danceland in the Minnetonka Record in 1966.
Excelsior’s Village Council met on April 17 and issued Colihan his dancehall license for $350. Colihan was asked whether he kept a list of “troublemakers so that they could be watched in the future. Colihan replied that such a record was kept but the troublemakers will be barred after ‘one time only.'” Halleck reported that there had been no trouble after the reinstatement of the license last year. The Mayor said that he had heard that the Suprees had “dissolved.”
The first dance of the season at Danceland was on April 28, 1967. Park owner Fred Pearce made it clear that Colihan, who leased it from the Park, was wholly responsible for what went on.
Dances were planned for Fridays and Saturdays until school was out and then Tuesdays would be added.
Correspondent Rollie Anderson shares this account from July 28, 1967 – probably one of the last dances at the fabled Danceland:
This evening Jerry, Marilyn and I went over to Shari’s to pick her up to go to Excelsior Park to see the Hot Half Dozen [The band advertised as the Hot Half Dozen but officially, their name was simply the Half Dozen.] Jerry knows a guy in that group who lived in Holdingford and graduated with his sister, Janet – Daryl Litchy. When we four got to Danceland, I paid $6.00 for all of us because I didn’t want to make Jerry think that he had to pay for my sister, Marilyn. It was sort of an embarrassment when inside because there were so few there and no one was dancing. But during the night, things picked up a lot. As I figured, the Hot Half Dozen played “Heat Wave” just as good as ever. I always liked their recording of that song and little did I know when I heard it on the radio last year that the lead singer was from Holdingford. Jerry talked to him during one of their breaks and he remembered Jerry’s name, but didn’t have much to say. [According to Soma records, James Walsh was the lead singer, at least on the recording of “Heatwave.”]
Danceland closed on August 29, 1967, for the season.
By 1968 Big Reggie no longer had the lease for the property. Fred Pearce, the owner of the building, had leased it to Robert Mecay and Thomas Costaneda in early 1968, but when they applied for a set-up license to operate an adult operation with liquor they were flatly refused by the Village Council. They wanted to come back with a request to run a teen club (Mecay had five years’ experience), but on May 13, 1968, owner Fred Pearce announced that he was losing money on the dance hall and had decided to rent it out as a storage building.
The name Danceland comes up in a Strib search as Randy’s Square Danceland, located 6 miles west of County Road 10. Randy Dougherty was the owner and caller. It apparently operated from January 1968 to October 1970. A little different.
Danceland burned to the ground in a fire that started at 2 am on July 8, 1973. The Excelsior and Minnetonka Fire Departments responded, with the Mound FD manning the Excelsior station. Chief Labahn Morse said the building was “totally involved” in flames when they arrived and with a building that size, no amount of water could have had much effect on the fire. Water was pumped from Lake Minnetonka, but the fire hoses kept filling up with algae and had to be constantly cleared out. The overpass over Highway 7 to Excelsior had to be closed because of sparks and heat. Flames could be seen for miles.
The fire smoldered for two days and damage (including 38 boats and 47 snowmobiles) came to $136,200 One firefighter was injured fighting the blaze when debris fell on him and he was rushed to Methodist Hospital. Ironically, the building was scheduled to be razed that fall and possibly used as a controlled burning exercise for the Excelsior Volunteer Fire Department.
Chief Morse reported that the fire appeared to have been started at 8 to 10 different spots and that gasoline was used, leading to a swift, all-encompassing blaze. It was suspected by officials that several people had started the fires, but Jeffrey Malloy Williams, age 23, of Orono, was the only one arrested and accused of arson.
The complaint filed against Williams alleges that, “aided and abetted” by other persons, he set fire to Danceland. It alleges further that there was a gathering of “kids” prior to the fire, that Williams was observed near the building with an empty gasoline can in his hand, and that he said the building was going to be burned down.
Another version was that he handed the empty gasoline can to a witness and told her that he was going to burn down the building. Speculation is that Williams and the others involved burned down the ballroom on a dare. Did Mike Plant light the match? Alas, Mike was lost at sea on the ship Coyote.
The Park, still in the Pearce family, closed the weekend after Labor Day, 1973. The Danceland site (685 Excelsior Blvd.) is now an office building and a parking lot for Bayview Event Center. There is much more on Danceland on Lake Minnetonka.Com.
RAY COLIHAN – “BIG REGGIE”
Raymond Joseph Colihan was born on July 24, 1928, in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
Growing up, his family lived in a duplex on the grounds of the park. Young Ray was always around the park, and his first official job was sweeping the ballroom floor at age 12. Connie Hechter reported that Ray’s first job was running the hat check concession at the ballroom. Once he admitted to sneaking on stage to play Gene Krupa’s drums when nobody was around. As he entered high school, he ran the Ferris wheel and did other jobs.
Ray served in the military from 1950 to 1953, returning to become the park’s public relations director.
MISS MINNESOTA USA
In 1956 park manager Rudy Shogran died and Ray took over some of his duties. One of them was to manage the Miss Minnesota contest, which led to the Miss USA (not Miss America) contest and then to Miss Universe. This competition started in 1952. In 1958 the contestants from Minneapolis and St. Paul competed on June 8. The top eight winners then competed with 20 contestants from outstate Minnesota on June 15. The winner, Miss Minnesota USA, was Sue Bouchard from Minneapolis. The Park paid for Sue’s wardrobe, expenses, and transportation to the Miss USA pageant on July 23 in Long Beach. Unfortunately Sue did not make the top 15.
BIG REGGIE’S DANCELAND
The dates are vague here, but my best guess is that in late 1960, Ray re-opened the ballroom, with teen-age dances on Tuesday nights. Friday nights were for “old-time music” and Saturday nights were Dixieland.
In August I lost $4,000; the only time I made any money was Tuesday nights. I made a hundred dollars on Tuesdays with the kids. So I got smart in August and I went every night with teen-age, and I wound up the year not losing anything. The last dance I had that year was Conway Twitty and I put 1800 kids in there at a buck a head. No one had seen that kind of action since Lawrence Welk played the ballroom. The old man couldn’t believe it. The next year  I got smarter and booked Mike Waggoner and the Bops and I kept it open until ’67.
When his father died on October 19, 1961, Ray took over his job as manager of the Park, and also leased the dormant ballroom as a sideline. He dubbed the ballroom “Big Reggie’s Danceland” – his nickname Big Reggie was named for Jackie Gleason’s Reginald Van Gleason character.
The Underbeats remembered that Big Reggie always wanted to sing “Cotton Fields” with them on stage – apparently he even made a record of his favorite song, which goes for big bucks today.
In 1964, the Star’s Bob Murphy noted that Ray could be spotted at the Kashmiri Lounge at the Ambassador Motor Inn in St. Louis Park, “bending his arm to do a duet or two with Ruth Sneen, the pianist there. The two achieve a remarkable blend of voices. I didn’t even know he sang.”
Big Reggie promoted other shows, notably the Beatles’ appearance at Met Stadium in 1965.
In 1970 Colihan partnered with twins Billy and Jimmy Robertson of the Minnesota Twins and built the Twins Stagecoach Inn, a bar/restaurant next to the Stagecoach museum in Shakopee. This venue was renamed the 1 and 44 just two years later, so apparently it was not a success.
In 1973 Colihan operated Reggie’s Bar in downtown St. Cloud for a year. It was destroyed by fire on February 24, 1974, causing $140,000 in damages. Assistant State Fire Marshall Richard Polipnick accused Colihan of starting the fire, and bound him over to the Stearns District Court on charges of arson and insurance fraud. He was freed on his own recognizance after a preliminary hearing. Colihan was granted a change in venue and pleaded innocent to the charges. He was tried by a jury in Little Falls, Morrison County and found innocent on May 8, 1975.
Colihan was manager of La Cantina, located at 7800 Computer Ave. in Bloomington. La Cantina was built by Pat Moore. Colihan resigned in October 1974 amid a fight with the Bloomington City Council over the percentage of food to liquor sold at the restaurant and nightclub.
In the late 1970s he owned and managed the Skyway Bar (by 1986 known as Reggie’s Downtown) at 8th and Hennepin.
UPTOWN BAR AND CAFE
Colihan purchased the Uptown Bar at Lake and Hennepin in 1984. During his two year tenure the bar became a mecca for punk/alternative local bands, many of which became famous, according to this article I have here.
Colihan died on November 18, 1986, at his Edina home from cancer at the age of 58. He was survived by his wife, Beverly Ann; daughter, Cathleen Ann (David Rand); son, Joseph Patrick Colihan; and mother, Marion.
MINNEAPOLIS STAR AND TRIBUNE
Will Jones item: May 23, 1961
School Night at Excelsior: May 13, 1961
Will Jones: June 26, 1961
20 Dance Halls Lose Bottle Club Licenses: August 25, 1961
Suburban Neighbors column by Ralph Thornton: September 14, 1963
Don Morrison’s 2 Cents’ Worth; Beatles Want Bigger Bite From Promoter: May 28, 1964
Court Clears Youth of 3 Charges: June 26, 1965
Dance Hall’s License Suspended: April 22, 1966
Excelsior Sets Hearing on License Suspension: April 26, 1966
Hearing Held Wednesday on Danceland: April 28, 1966
Excelsior Plans to Review Suspension: April 30, 1966
Excelsior Lifts Ban on Dancehall: May 5, 1966
Danceland to Reopen – With Curbs: May 6, 1966
Fire destroys hall where Welk, Stones once played, by Jack Coffman: July 9, 1973
Long Lake Man Charged in Hall Fire: July 10, 1973
Area gives Beach Boys good vibrations by Michael Anthony: August 5, 1976
MINNEAPOLIS DAILY HERALD – All dates 1962
Ads: May 10 and 30, July 2, September 9
Holiday Fireworks at Amusement Park: May 24
Fireworks at Park Set For July 3-4
Excelsior Suspends Danceland License: April 21, 1966
Danceland License Returned: May 5, 1966
Park Now Open on Weekends Only: September 7, 1967
Summer’s Over – Amusement Park is Closing: September 14, 1967
Excelsior Park To Open Sunday in Pre-Season Series: April 1963
Excelsior Park Hosts Hi School Night Friday: May 1963
Excelsior, Park Officials Discuss Petition Complaint: May 30, 1963
Excelsior Park To Open On Weekend: April 23, 1964
Sky-Divers And Fireworks At Excelsior Park: July 2, 1964
Amusement Park Observes Fortieth Anniversary In ’65: May 27, 1965
Danceland Policing Discussed: May 27, 1965
Excelsior Charged with negligence in $100,000 Claim: May 26, 1966
Danceland to Open Next Friday Night: April 20, 1967
Danceland Licenses Requested: April 21, 1968
Danceland on Excelsior Agenda Monday: May 9, 1968
Danceland Will Close: May 16, 1968
EXCELSIOR-DEEPHAVEN SUN: All July 12, 1973
- Danceland turns to smoking hull
- Long Lake man arrested in fire investigation
- Sweet nostalgia destroyed in a few, scorching hours
Sweet Potato: Daniel Gabriel, July 22, 1981
Insider: “Big Reggie: The World’s Oldest Teenager!” by Connie Hechter, September 1974