Music and memories keep rockin’ at Surf’s Winter Dance Party

(Above) The Dance Contest is always a hit at Friday night’s Sock Hop. -Reporter Photo by Chris Barragy

by Marianne Gasaway

The music and fun raved on last week at the Surf Ballroom, as the Winter Dance Party brought thousands to Clear Lake to celebrate the roots of rock and roll.

For many, the event has become a tradition since 1979.  Others, like Clay Norris, the new executive director of the Iowa Rock ’n Roll Music Association, were experiencing the Surf and its celebration of the lives and music of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P “The Big Bopper” Richardson, for the first time.

“I am in awe,” said Norris.  “Seeing the stage, and getting a chance to be in on it, was amazing.”

Joesph Pughley, from Chicago, was another first-timer.

“I knew about the Winter Dance Party since I was a child from my late grandfather.  I wanted to come for many years and now that I am here, I am full of excitement and flabbergasted.  I hope they keep the legacy, memory and singing going.”

There were several that were on the other end of the Surf experience spectrum, having been to most, if not all, Winter Dance Parties.

Dennis Farland, from Newton, Iowa has been coming to Clear Lake for years.  Friday night he was accompanied by his 20-year-old grand daughter, who has attended since she was three.  “The biggest reason we come is to see the friends we see one time a year.  Our common interest is music,” said Farland.

Terrell and Carol Geist, from Sioux Falls, S.D., have been coming here since 1992.  “We wouldn’t miss it— the music and the people,” they said.

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