The Pla Mor Ballroom
Thanks to some lovely friends who were off watching the Cubs pull off another of their patented come from behind victories, A & I went dancing to the sweet sounds of The Bobby Layne Orchestra at the Pla Mor Ballroom. Some Basie, a bit of Cole Porter & the unforgettable "Iowa Waltz." Oh, & "Margaritaville."
While the median age of dancers may have been in the late 70s, there was no shortage of fancy footwork or men in western shirts & suspenders. Lots of sequins on the women's' dresses. One guy had a lime green blazer with sequins all over the pockets & lapels, white pants & silver sparkly shoes. Strangely, while you'd expect him to tear the place up with his dance moves, he was not a very interesting dancer. There was some kind of Ball Room Dancing convention going on so there were bunches of people from as far away as Iowa in attendance. Those people picked up the slack from Senior Silvershoes. It was like an alternative yet blissful universe, one in which Lawrence Welk was entirely justified for his crimes.
I'm a little bit in love with the Pla Mor Ballroom. It's a pretty shabby place, it kind of looks like a funeral home when you drive up & inside it's one of those super-stucco roofs decorated with some christmas lights & hanging paper stars. What I love is that it was built in '29 over some cornfields. The original owners built it just outside the city limits, presumably to avoid the Lincoln alcohol (& decency?) laws. Through its history Lawrence Welk, Glenn Miller, Count Basie, Dotty West, Kitty Wells & Bill Haley & the Comets have played there. I don't know who Dotty West is but I have a special beat that my heart skips for Kitty Wells & it's cool to think of Count Basie hanging out in this cornfield half a century ago. It's like the poster of the Art Ensemble at UNL that is hanging up at the Antiquarian in Omaha. It makes me feel good to think that these people I love were here.
According to the history of the Pla Mor Ballroom pamphlet that I picked up (alongside the Bobby Layne cds, records & 8-track tapes--not kidding), the place feel into disuse & was squatted by some hippies until the early 70s. This just makes the Ballroom more charming to me. The also let you know in the history pamphlet that they added air conditioning in the 70s. They don't mention Basie being there but feel the need to point out the AC. These are the kinds of priorities that I would expect from the Pla Mor Ballroom.
In other music news one of my favorite bands of the summer Ladyhawk are playing here on Saturday. Sweet name. Big rock. No Matthew Broderick.
Also "La valse a Thomas Ardoin" by Amede Ardoin is an early contender for best song of the week. But I also got a Sisters of Mercy song stuck in my head this morning, so it's shaping up to be a strange week.