LA CROSSE, Wis. – (WXOW) – First established in 1891 as a German singing society, the Concordia Ballroom has become a huge part of La Crosse’s history.
Due to the pandemic, they had to close temporarily.
That’s when they decided to make big changes inside the building.
Before the pandemic, the Concordia Ballroom hosted various events from birthday parties to weddings, and Sunday dancing. They have a long history of polka dancing. The facility had a very full calendar of dancing and weddings planned that had to be cancelled.
There is a board made up of seven people that make decisions and help operate the Concordia Ballroom. With events being cancelled, they also returned all of the deposits that were made as well. Luckily, the mortgage on the building has been paid off for many years explained David Ford, Concordia Ballroom Volunteer. They have also received grants and a small amount of money from the PPP.
Although the pandemic set them back, they have taken the time over the last few months while they have been closed to make renovations to the ballroom so that when everyone comes back, they are in for a surprise.
“We ended up with a new floor in the bar area and the entranceway to the bar area. We already got new barstools,” said Jennifer Heth, President of the Concordia Aid Society. “We chose some updated colors, brighter and lighter. We said if we were our children would we want to come here for an event.”
While the younger generations are beginning to come in and appreciate it, the majority of the crowds they have seen are people over the age of 70. For some like Ford, who met his wife while out dancing one night, it means a lot more than just having a place to dance and socialize.
“That’s basically why I am here,” said Ford. “I cleaved to the building over time. I love this place and I am doing as much as I can to help out here.”
The Concordia Ballroom is hosting an open house for people to enjoy on November 14 from 3 pm-6 pm. They are only operating at 25% of their 240-person capacity following state guidelines and masks are required. The ballroom is also open for people to rent it out for any type of event and are encouraged to do so.
If you would like to help in another way, you can make donations on their website or buy a membership, as well as look at the calendar for when events come back.
Keeping the Concordia Ballroom going is going to take help from the community, some board members, like Jennifer Heth and her husband even dug into their retirement savings to keep the special place in business, so it is no secret how much it means to them.
The board has been tossing around ideas of what they can do right now. Heth says they have thought about BINGO and small meetings but any small group looking for an event space is welcome to use it.
“Once COVID gets under control I think the dance hall will be ready for a lot of entertainment and I think people will really be yearning to get out and move around and enjoy music,” said Ford.