In anticipation of our upcoming Ballroom Dance on April 22nd, the Menasha Historical Society (Kathy Humski) has written this article about the history of the Blue Inn Dances that were once held in the Memorial Building. This old building has a lot of history and we are looking forward to using it once again for another dance!
It’s hard to believe that the Menasha Youth Organization, Inc. was established 60 years ago in 1957! The organization became better known as the Blue Inn but was originally called the “Blew Inn.” Teen dances became extremely popular at the Memorial Building (which soon became known as the “Mem”).
According to information gathered from a 1965 article in the News Record portion of the Appleton Post Crescent, “the organization grew through the cooperation of the park and recreation departments and the students of Menasha high schools. In Sept. of 1958, a constitution was written declaring the purpose of the Blue Inn was to promote social and recreational activities in the community and participate in such activities of patriotic, civic and charitable nature as the executive board shall determine. During its first 8 years, Blue Inn contributed more than $10,500 to local charity. It also made the question ‘what’s there to do on Saturday night’ almost obsolete – for it is then that Blue Inn draws its flock together.”
The ground floor of the Memorial Building was the reception area. After displaying membership cards, members and guests had their hands ‘stamped’ with invisible ink. The ink only showed up under ultra-violet lights. The fee for guests (mostly students from Neenah and Appleton) was 30 cents to attend the dances. That was a small price for an entire evening’s worth of friendship and fun!
The dancing took place upstairs in the Memorial Building. Music played by favorite disc jockeys was always blaring through the loud speakers. There is still a painting in the large hall depicting a teen dancing scene.
Concluding the newspaper article, “the floor was always crowded with small groups. That gave everyone the feeling that ‘everyone is here and so are you and it’s great to be a part of something big’. The 600 plus card carrying members from Menasha and St. Mary’s High Schools and the 1,000 guest card carriers feel Blue Inn does a great job.”
The Blue Inn dances were great fun for area teen-agers. Recent dances held at Smith Park have been well-attended and bring us the opportunity to reminisce about those wonderful times. It’s very “cool” to see that many of those dance steps have not been forgotten! It’s also fun to hear so many of our old favorite tunes because “they sure don’t write ‘em like that anymore!”
We hope to see you at the Doty Island Ballroom Dance being held in this building on Saturday, April 22nd from 7pm - 11pm. Tickets can be purchased online at www.dotyisland.org/dance or at the door (if tickets are still available, that is!)