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Val Air Ballroom - Iowa Time Machine June 6, 1939

Iowa Time Machine ⏰: On June 6, 1939, the Val Air Ballroom officially opened in West Des Moines. Home to many closely held memories of unforgettable musical performances, the iconic Iowa venue continues to welcome Iowans today.

Initially the home of the Wilson Rubber Factory during World War I, the slowing of demand for rubber left the site off Ashworth Road in West Des Moines temporarily abandoned. Converted into an open-air dance hall, the new venue welcomed the first guests hoping to dance the night away in early June 1939. 

Big Band music often filled the night as Iowans danced under the stars. A crowd of 2,500 heard Ted Lewis play his hit “Me and My Shadow.” Men paid 85 cents for admission, and women only 25 cents. In 1939, a naming contest drew a winning entry focused on the venue’s open-air nature and location (Valley Junction). For nearly two decades the venue hosted concerts under night skies along the White Pole Road.

In August 1954, construction started to enclose the venue and allow concerts to occur year-round. Completed in March 1955, the Henry Busse Orchestra opened the new Art Deco-designed building featuring hand-painted murals and floral designs. While a 1961 fire caused $100,000 in damage, the venue survived. Closed temporarily in 1996 due to a transfer in ownership and again in December 2022, the Val Air Ballroom kicked off a new era in 2024 after a significant renovation. #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar


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