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Dance club glides into 30th year

Dancers throughout the area filled the dance floor at Lakeside Ballroom in Glenwood for a dance in 2012.

    Ballroom dancing epitomizes romance. A woman gets dressed up. A man holds his partner in his arms. They float and glide across a wooden floor in a beautiful lakeside ballroom… in Glenwood.

    Ahhhhh, dance.

    As the Lakeside Dance Club celebrates a milestone anniversary of 30 years in June they begin a new season of dance, breathing in new life as its members simultaneously say “thanks for the memories…”

    The Lakeside Dance Club certainly has much to be thankful for, beginning with its rich history. Betty and Erv Zuber and Rodney and Joan Wolf were the “sparks” that inspired the dance club. Two women, each with their husbands, equaling four people and the poised and balanced equation of two couples wishing to dance.

    In 1983 the Lakeside Ballroom owner at that time, Dwayne Peterson, told the two couples that if they were to have any modern dancing they better start a dance club. Peterson said he would furnish the ballroom. All they had to do was book the bands, guarantee the band, and promote each dance. The Zubers and the Wolfs sponsored the dances during the first season. They hired bands for five dances and planned a bonus dinner dance, with a big-name band if finances allowed, at the end of that first season.  All for $50 per couple.  In 1984 there were 69 couples. By 1985 there were 141 couples. Members came from 47 different towns in the area.

    Today, as members Barbara and Jewett Benson, of Alexandria, speak of the club, their enthusiasm is unbounded, their purpose clear, and their passion quietly seeping in their veins. Said Barb of the 30th anniversary and the new season, “We are celebrating the existence of ‘the longest lived dance club in Minnesota,’ honoring the people that started it and  kept it going and launching another great season of dancing to ‘live’ big band music at Lakeside. We are continuing to build memories and hope to give people in the area (including those interested who haven’t yet given it a try) an opportunity to experience the benefits of dance in their lives.” The dance club is the only entity offering regular dancing at the Lakeside Ballroom.

    The 2013 summer season starts with the anniversary dance on Sunday, June 23.  The summer dance season includes four Sunday evening dances beginning with the June anniversary dance with Myron Sommerfeld; July 14 with the Velvet Brass; Aug. 25 with Tuxedo Junction; and Sept. 15, with the Jerry O’Hagen Orchestra. All dances are at the Lakeside Ballroom in Glenwood from 4-8 p.m.

A typical dance at the “old” ballroom, before the fire in 2003.

    The 30th anniversary will also celebrate a victory of sorts. When the Lakeside Ballroom burned down in 2003 the Lakeside Dance Club, whose members come from all over Minnesota, grieved along with the residents of Glenwood. Although the club continued to hold dances in Forada and Barrett, they hoped to return to the shores of Minnewaska to dance. Members of the club joined community efforts to plan and raise funds for a new ballroom, often taking leadership roles.

    At the opening ceremony of the new Lakeside Ballroom in August of 2005, John Stone, mayor of Glenwood, referred to the fond memories that people would be building at the new ballroom. The Lakeside Dance Club hopes to continue to bring people from all over Minnesota to the city of Glenwood to build those memories. According to Benson, the 30th anniversary gives the club another opportunity to invite people to join dance. “You’ll find us once a month at the ballroom, in our dancing clothes, enjoying the live music and friendly atmosphere. Give yourself the gift of dancing.” she said.  Everyone is welcome to join in the fun, said Benson, adding, “Singles, couples of all ages and those who just wish to listen, will find a warm welcome.” More information is available on the website,

The popular Myron Sommerfeld band will play for the June 23 anniversary dance. Dancers can come at 3 p.m. for a rumba lesson, which is free with admission. The dances are open to the public. A season pass is encouraged if dancers wish to attend multiple dances.

    A conversation between Dorothy McCoy and Barbara Benson in 2005 led to the Winter Dance Club with the desire to have dance opportunities all year long. Soon, the club offered year-round dancing, broadening membership by offering lessons and increasing dance skills. Young adults and individual memberships were also added. Dancers with all ability levels come from a wide circle, from Montevideo to Fargo, and Wheaton to the metro-area.

    The Lakeside Dance Club’s history and 30th anniversary celebration will be one of reminiscing and one of looking forward. “The anniversary will celebrate those that were a part of the history to start the club, to those that have kept dance going, a circle of gratitude to those who rebuilt the Lakeside Ballroom,” said Loene Bowlin, of Glenwood. Bowlin smiled as her excitement and enthusiasm boiled over in reminiscing about the old historic ballroom and the benefits of dance.

“Dance! It’s social, it’s relaxing, and it’s exercise. It keeps you young. Dance, it’s the memories we walk off the dance floor with.”

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