The Central South Dakota community of Vivian never had a large population but they have always loved their music. The American Legion building was constructed in the 1920's and served as the town's first dance hall. It wasn't a big building but on Saturday night it was overflowing with dancers. Even during the "prohibition years" Vivian had a reputation for a place to have a good time and rumor has it that there were more than a few bootleggers proving "refreshments". World War II put a damper on every town's dances but after the war things were back to normal and Vivian prospered.
In 1948 the famous H-K bar opened in Vivian. The fancy interior and mahogany bar helped the on sale liquor establishment lay claim to being the best bar between Chamberlain and Rapid City. This made the local dances more popular than ever and was the deciding factor in constructing a new building. With volunteer labor and donated funds, a new gym / community hall was constructed in 1952. Nearby Draper and Presho had movie theaters but when it came to Saturday night entertainment, the action was at the dance in the new hall.
In the early and mid 1950's big bands were still the music of choice but by the late 50's a new kind of music arrived on the scene and it was called "rock and roll". Two local bands emerged, the "Rock-Its", featuring Bill Knutson, Lonis Wendt, and Arlo Huffman from Vivian along with "DJ and the Cats" from Presho. Brothers Terry and Travis Hutchinson fronted the Cats, who went on to record a couple of records and will also be inducted into the SDRRMA "Hall of Fame" in 2012.
Many great artists graced the stage of the Vivian Dance Hall, also known as "The Snowdome". They included the Trashmen, the Crickets, Buddy Knox, Myron Lee, and many others. The rock bands always packed the house but in 1966 the Vivian Dance Committee, under the direction of Bob Burns, had a special "Big Band Dance" featuring the Blue Barron Orchestra. This nostalgic event resulted in an overflow crowd estimated at 1,500 dancers that was never duplicated!
By the mid 1970's the Vivian Dance Hall suffered the same fate as many other SD venues, dwindling crowds. There were many reasons for the demise of ballrooms and dance halls but it was quite common. The hall still serves the community well, hosting celebrations, weddings, local events, funerals, and a gymnasium for the local youth. If you talk to any of the "old timers" living in the area they will speak with pride about the Vivian Dance Hall and its "Glory Years".
2012Ballrooms/Dance Halls/Night Clubs