There was a time when three things marked a Canadian Prairie town as a going concern. A grain elevator. A Chinese restaurant. And a dance hall.
When I was a kid, my parents often took me dancing. Baby sitters being especially hard to find if a good band was playing. And Winter roads could be bad, so who knew what time they might get home.
So my brother and I would be bundled into the car and parked in some fenced off section of the dance hall with a bunch of other kids, supervised (or not) by a couple of wallflowers.
We’d eventually fall asleep to the music, to be later bundled back into cars, waking up back in our own beds wondering if the laughter and the spinning mirror ball had all been a dream.
I returned to a lot of those places in high school for square dance competitions and later following my favorite local bands.
The dance halls never changed. The floors were always polished. There was a cash bar and a jukebox and a couple of cooks in the back making burgers and fries.
The lights were soft and yet bright enough so you could get a good look at whoever was asking or being asked to dance.
A caretaker would shuffle through as the band tuned up sprinkling sawdust to make the floor easier on the feet. And then it was on with the show.
Simple places. Functional yet magical. Places where hard work and problems were forgotten and friendships and more were found.
Most of the dance halls are gone now. Hell, most of the towns that had them are gone too, or left as mere shadows of what they once were, their grain elevators no longer marking their locations and the main streets without a place to stop for coffee or a plate of chow mein.
They’re a world quietly passing away, leaving little trace of how much they meant to those who stepped inside their doors and glided around those polished floors.
Enjoy Your Sunday.