The days of ‘old time’ dancing has passed for the Golden Bubble Ballroom
Published 9:00 am Sunday, June 22, 2014
History Revisited by Jerome Meyer
If you liked to dance to “old time” music, or as some called it, “oom-pah pah” music, at the ballroom and also enjoy a good meal, one of the most popular places to go for Faribault County residents for 40 years was the Golden Bubble, south of Wells on Highway 22. The Bubble hosted wedding dances and receptions, firemen’s and rescue squad fundraiser dances, public weekend dances and some music concerts. Many times on busy weekend dances, the parking lot overflowed and cars were forced to park on sides of Highway 22.
For now, only good times and memories exist as the establishment was closed in 2003. It is currently boarded up and surrounded by a weed filled parking lot. Although the name started out as just the Bubble, people started to call it the Golden Bubble — probably from the champagne bubbles.
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The Bubble started in the early 1950s as just a steakhouse by then-owner Henry Kruger of Wells. The original ballroom was added to the steakhouse in 1963. Ron Paluche purchased the establishment around 1976 from Kruger and operated it for about almost two years. He then sold it to Kenneth and Gloria Thompson of Frost, who moved into a house next to the Bubble and operated it until it closed.
Disaster struck the Bubble on Good Friday in 1980. A fire started from an unknown origin was discovered by Thompson when he got up to check on his children and found out that there was no water pressure in the house. As the water line came from the Bubble’s well, Thompson went to the ballroom to find out the problem.
When he approached the Bubble he could see that the fire had already fully engulfed the interior of the ballroom. Four local fire departments were call to battle the fire. However, because the fire already had such a head start, the wooden structure dance hall was completely destroyed and only the steakhouse could be saved.
The Thompson’s decided to rebuild the ballroom with a new steel beam structure which reopened on New Year’s Eve in 1980.
“1980 was booked for the busiest year and we had to cancel all the events,” Thompson said. Insurance only covered part of the loss.
“The top years for the Bubble were in the 1970s and the 1980s,” Thompson said, as were many dance halls in neighboring towns. Dozens of popular bands played at the Bubble over the years such as Jack Schultz, Whoopee John, Jules Herman, Blue Banners and Ole Allen — just to name a few. Several rock band concerts played there as well as Sandra Lee and the Velvets. Thompson said he “played (reeds) in the Jack Schultz band for three years.”
“Society changed in the 1990s and early 2000s with less people going to dance halls,” Thompson said. This is a result of aging customers, declining rural area population, economic shifts, other entertainment options and DWI enforcement Thompson said when asked why The Golden Bubble closed.
Like the demise of the Golden Bubble, most other ballrooms or dance halls in the local area have either closed, been converted to another business or if still open, only have special occasion dances. About the only locations still available to dance to “old time” music are local service clubs or Oktoberfest celebrations.
Jerome Meyer enjoys writing about local history.