Built in 1950 by Andy Pflaum in the tiny town of Lane, South Dakota, the Rainbow Ballroom was almost half the size of a football field – and needed to be that big to hold the large crowds from area towns. In 1963, Leroy (Red) Deneke and his brother, Walt, bought the Rainbow in an auction for $5,000. Dances were held through New Year’s Eve 1974, and the ballroom, which also was a roller skating rink, was torn down in 1975.

The Rainbow was a boon to the Lane Liquor Store directly across the street. Red’s wife, Lila, sold tickets at the front, greeting music fans by name. The Rainbow sold beer and 25-cent setups, and served steaks, burgers, and fries. The only three brands of beer offered were Grain Belt, Blue Ribbon, and Schlitz, according to former bartender Ray Waldner. The dance hall workers enjoyed a free meal after each event. After replacing a screen door one summer day, Ray saw Walt toss an unruly customer through the new door that night.

Musical groups appearing at the Rainbow included Conway Twitty; Myron Lee and the Caddies; Talismen; Chateau; Kyle Evans, from nearby Wessington Springs; Teen Kings and the Princes, from Minneapolis; Danny Hall; Sherwin Linton; the Astronauts, from Boulder, Colorado; an all-Native American group from Yankton called Zephiers; Steve Ellis and the Starfires; and many of the KOMA bands: the Blue Things, Red Dogs, Rising Suns, Spider and the Crabs, and the Flippers.

After the Rainbow closed, the Brueske family held dances in the former Lane High School building. Law enforcement officers finally closed that venue due to the many fatal auto accidents involving dance-goers.

Lane was a popular destination for dancers and music lovers in the mid-1900s. Memories of the fun times still spark conversations today.