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Val Air Ballroom
West Des Moines, IA
September 8 2016
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Val Air Ballroom
Val Air Ballroom, a leading fun arena for those who want to freak out was developed and operated by Tom Archer arriving in Des Moines in 1936.
The ballroom in Iowa was inaugurated in June, 1939. Archer was the kind of person who broke new grounds for trends in the ballroom trade.
He made his mark as being one of the first entrepreneurs by introducing Big Bands in Midwest from New York. Apart from Val Air, Tom had ballrooms in Missouri, Iowa, South Dakota, Nebraska and Archer, thus becoming a top ballroom operator promoting the careers of popular band leaders such as Lawrence Welk & Jan Garber.
Being an open-air ballroom of its own kind, Val Air was a unique example. It was built on just one level, with only the hardwood dance floor, the bars and the restrooms having a roof. The remaining structure was covered by big "drop" sides which were lowered to keep out rains, but were elevated for summer evenings of dancing and entertainment.
The most interesting part is how the ballroom got its name. A public contest was held in May 1939 to name the ballroom. About 2000 people suggested names but the winning entry combined Val for Valley Junction and Air for open-air ballroom.
Val Air opened precisely on the night of June 06, 1939. Entry Tickets were charged at the rate of 85 cents for gentlemen and 25 cents for ladies. About 2,500 people attended the night. Ted Lewis and his band performed the opening show. After that, some big stars mesmerized the audiences with their show.
In the 50"s, a new kind of music was introduced, namely Rock "N Roll. With time, the preferences of music lovers changed, and Val Air adapted itself to that. The ballroom started booking the current stars of Rock "N Roll on Thursday nights with the result that the venue would sell out on lots of occasions due to the popularity with the audience.
Some of the artistes who shook the audience with their performances in the 50"s were Lou Christie, Jan, Bobby Vee, Dean and Tommy Roe.
All types of private parties are also held at Val Air like wedding receptions, promos, fund raising dances, annual meetings, political rallies and others. Also, the ballroom also has become very popular for holding parties for groups of 300-3,000 people.
So don"t waste your nights at home if you are in Iowa. With all the fun waiting for you, Val Air is the right place for you with its open-air setting and top stars delivering their best!
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