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The Crystal Ballroom, Portland’s Hippest Concert Venue

This blog post is about the Crystal Ballroom, which is located in Portland, Oregon, and owned and operated by McMenamins.

The Crystal Ballroom is one of the most prominent and central locations for the music scene in Portland. This article will go into some of the history of the ballroom and how it came to be such a popular concert venue.

The Crystal Ballroom was originally known as “Cotillion hall”, and was opened in 1914. Initially it was used by Portlanders for dance revivals and other gatherings and ceremonies during and after the Great Depression. Originally owned by a man named Montrose Ringler, the dance hall underwent tremendous persecution due to rigorous moral backlash against dancing. Ringler lost the hall in the early 1920’s, and it was subsequently purchased by a man named Dad Watson, who reopened it – but only for square dancing and other more conservative forms.

After Watson died in the early 1930’s, it was purchased by Ralph Farrier, who renamed it “The Crystal Ballroom”, and continued holding primarily square dance lessons and dance events.

During the 60’s, the Crystal Ballroom was inhabited by many famous bands and performers, including The Grateful Dead among others. The ballroom was closed in 1968 due once again to moral concerns.

McMenamins purchased and reopened the Crystal Ballroom in 1997, and now features a restaurant and bar on the lower floor, called “Lola’s”, a brewery on the second floor, and the ballroom in it’s original place on the upper floor.

The Crystal Ballroom is located in the heart of downtown Portland, on the corner of Burnside and 14th. Today it is one of a few venues in Portland which hosts major and up and coming musicians and bands. It features a “floating floor” – which purportedly makes you feel that you are dancing on air.

If you are interested in learning to swing dance, there are lessons at the Crystal Ballroom each Sunday – stop by Lola’s and have a burger and micro-brew beer. Prices are very reasonable and the staff is always friendly.

For a list of upcoming concerts, or any other questions about McMenamins Pub and Brewery, please visit their website:


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