BY: RACHEL WUMKES
Notoriety is often a sought-after trait. People want to be known for something. Anything. But what if you’re known for the biggest, most tragic loss in the history of Rock and Roll? What if your legacy is littered with sadness, grief and despair?
While the Surf Ballroom & Museum honors the three shining stars we lost that fateful night, they’ve done something remarkable in the process. Through dedication, commitment and the education of our youth, they haven’t let the music die. In Clear Lake, the music lives on.
Struggling in the early 1990s, the Surf faced an existing doom. Thankfully, local business owner Dean Snyder purchased and restored the venue. A love story for the record books, its been told Dean’s wife, Joanne, was his motivation behind the acquisition. Dean said, “If she liked to fish, I would have bought her a fishing pole, but she liked to dance, so I bought her the Surf.”
The Snyder family leased the Surf Ballroom to the North Iowa Cultural Center & Museum, who’s main purpose is to preserve, maintain and manage the historic Surf Ballroom property as a center utilized to enhance the quality of life in the North Iowa area by providing cultural, education and entertainment opportunities.
They’ve recently put those wheels into motion in a big way.
The Music Enrichment Center came to full fruition in 2019 with the purchase of the adjacent building near the Surf. It’s the perfect addition for the people of Clear Lake and our visitors. Its purpose is to share the story and history of the Surf Ballroom and will be instrumental in shaping young minds, educating them about our legacy and enhancing their ability to express themselves through music.
This mecca of music education is a place to attract lovers of music, providing a centralized location where people, young and old, can gather to learn, practice, perform and enjoy music.
For years, studies have shown the importance of music education in children, especially when allowed to work in conjunction with other subjects in school. Music helps kids grow in self-esteem, build essentials skills, and prepare them for bright futures.
While still in the early stages of development, the Music Enrichment Center will provide a wind range of possibilities for music lovers. Small spaces for private lessons are available, as well as a large area for specialized classes.
Always incorporating the history of the Surf Ballroom, students will get a hands-on approach to education and involvement within the community. But its not just for the kids. They’re hoping to eventually provide adult classes and options for seniors as well. To learn more about upcoming classes and events, go to www.surfballroom.com and click on the Education Tab.
And someday, maybe someday, if the cards align and the vision of the Music Enrichment Center comes to full fruition, there may be a recording studio on site. Offering the space to talent as they pass through town in hopes they stay awhile and record their next hit single or album here. It would definitely be a key point offered to musicians when they contract a show in the iconic Surf Ballroom.
We will never forget the tragic events of that fateful February night in 1959. The day, some say, the music died. Forever etched in the hearts and minds of every Clear Laker, and of many people around the globe. A day we mourn those whose lives were lost.
But here, inside the Surf Ballroom and the Music Enrichment Center, we celebrate. We celebrate the music. The memories. The rich history of Rock and Roll.
And we remember.
Because the music lives on in each of us.