Bounce On, Crystal Ballroom

As the landmark dance and concert hall celebrates 100 years, we look back on a century of sin and psychedelia.

By Nathan Tucker January 2, 2014 Published in the December 2013 issue of Portland Monthly

Jan 22, 1914: Montrose Ringler opens the Cotillion Hall. After multiple arrests for violating Portland’s dancing regulations, he gets run out of town in 1921. 

1920s: Lola Baldwin of the Portland Police’s Women’s Protective Division repeatedly raids the Cotillion for morally offensive jazz dancing. “A great majority of women and girls owe their downfall to the dance hall,” Baldwin declares. →

1928–33: The elderly (yet sprightly) “Dad” Watson hosts old-time dance revivals to buoy spirits during the Great Depression. 

1934–62: Casket maker Ralph Farrier renames the venue the Crystal Ballroom and oversees 30 uneventful years of old-time dancing and the occasional gypsy wake.

1960s: The ballroom finds new life as a rock hotbed, showcasing African American performers and counterculture bands. 

←1965: James Brown enlists policemen to drag him from the stage to close his concert.

Feb 2–3, 1968: The Grateful Dead bring their psychedelic light show and use some of the concerts’ recordings on their second album, Anthems of the Sun

July 1968: Fueled by a Newsweek report about San Francisco hippies migrating to Portland, public outrage and a failed safety inspection force the venue to shutter.

Feb 19, 1997: McMenamins reopens the building after three decades of vacancy. 

Sept 20, 2005: For its finale, Arcade Fire leads the audience onto Burnside, shutting down the street.

Aug 12, 2006: Eddie Vedder joins Sleater-Kinney for the seminal rock band’s final show.

June 3–6, 2008: Pink Martini’s four FundFest concerts raise over $77,000 for charities.

Jan 21, 2014: A solo show by the Decemberists’ Colin Meloy closes out the first 100 years.

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