Not many local venues can say they have 100 years under their belts, but then again not many Portland landmarks have the rich heritage of the Crystal Ballroom.
The Many Lives of the Crystal Ballroom
Tim Hills’ “The Many Lives of the Crystal Ballroom” paints a vivid picture from the ballroom’s beginning as a dance studio in 1914 all the way up to the present.
There are more than a few intimate stories about who has played at SW 14th and Burnside over the years, but that might never have happened if dance instructor Montrose Ringler hadn’t opened his Cotillion Hall which would eventually become the present day Crystal Ballroom.
A subtitle for Hills’ book might be “If These Walls Could Talk” because the trials and tribulations of the dance hall during the 20s and 30s included police raids by Portland’s Finest, the arrest of dance instructor Ringler not once but twice, and heaven forbid, jazz music, which was considered devil’s work.
The Crystal Ballroom has had many owners including present day benefactors Mike and Brian McMenamin. The venue continues to attract high profile acts including last year’s concert by chart topping New Zealand singer Lorde who just picked up two Grammies including the coveted “Song Of The Year.” It’s probably a safe bet that the Crystal Ballroom will be around for another 100 years.
Source: The Many Lives Of The Crystal Ballroom/Author Tim Hills, The Oregonian archives.
Available on Amazon and at Powell’s Books