The advertisement above is about the only thing I can find online about the New Place, which was a teen nite club located on Route 31 between Algonquin and Crystal Lake. The New Place was open from January 1965 until December of 1968, when it burned. There were dances there after that, but they were outside.
The above ad is from November of 1967, advertising the Cryan' Shames and the Flock, two of the later bands that played at the New Place.
This blog is about the early days at the New Place. As I said in my last blog, the Nevermore closed in early 1965 because it was too small to house all the kids who were coming there to dance on the weekends. The owners moved the teen night club west to Route 31 between Algonquin and Crystal Lake. The address was Algonquin, but the New Place was closer to Crystal Lake and Cary.
The New Place was an old barn, which was probably built in the early 1900's. In the beginning only the first floor of the barn was used. Later, the upper area was opened, and in the summer of 1965, they built a patio outside on the north side of the barn. The barn burned in December of 1968.
Things at the New Place were pretty basic at first. There was no heat in the barn so the owners had kerosene heaters strategically placed around the dance floor. There was a snack bar on the east side, and the band played against the wall on the west side across from the snack bar. You had to take a step down to reach the snack bar. I think the snack bar was the area where the cows in the barn had once been fed.
The bathrooms were at the front of the building on the south side and so was the entrance. There was a small office in the southeast corner of the building.
Wow, were there some great bands playing at the New Place! I mentioned the Conspirators in my Nevermore blog, and they were better than ever at the New Place. Eddie Putta from Cary was now the lead singer, and he was great. A slight digression about Eddie! After I had been teaching at Fremd High School in Palatine for ten or fifteen years, I was doing something for the school newspaper (I was the adviser) that sent me to the 1968 Fremd yearbook. In the prom photos from 1967 was one of good ol' Eddie Putta escorting the prom queen. And man, was she beautiful! I'm sure Eddie had met her at the New Place!
Now to the other bands. I really liked Tim Hagen and the Novos. Harold (a buddy of mine from Crystal Lake who will figure prominently in these blogs) and I talked Tim Hagen into letting us sing "Boys," by the Beatles with the band on a cold winter night. We were terrible, but we did it; we got up and sang at the New Place!!
But the best band at the New Place was the Del-Vettes from Highland Park. I had never heard "Still in Love with You Baby," originally recorded by the Beau Brummels from San Francisco ("Laugh Laugh" "Just a Little") before, but that was THE song for the Del Vettes. They also did a mean version of the Beatles' "I Call Your Name." In December of 1965, we were able to get the Del-Vettes to play at the Crystal Lake Community High School Christmas dance, the Holly Berry Ball. Needless to say, they were a step up from the bands that usually played. After I had been at Fremd for 25 years, I met Greg Herriges from Highland Park, who is a professor at Harper College. He told me that one of the Del-Vettes chopped up his mother, and the guy went to an insane asylum.
The winter of 1965 turned warm and rainy early, and parking at the New Place was strictly on the corn stalks. There were no gravel or asphalt parking lots. You just parked in the frozen fields, and attendance was BOOMING. I remember us parking way back in the field east of the barn and walking up the New Place in the rain in February of 1965. When we came out, the fields had turned to mud, and everybody's car was stuck. The owners of the New Place had to call a tow truck to come and pull all the cars out. They were making so much money that they were able to hire workers to come in and throw down a couple tons of gravel in time for the next week.
As I mentioned in my Nevermore blog, the New Place and Nevermore had an in and out policy, meaning that kids could go in, dance, and then go outside when the band took a break. Now this seems harmless enough, but teenagers are a devious bunch. My buddy Ace's father used to buy his whiskey by the case, or should I say CASES. Ace had no trouble snarfing a bottle of Kentucky Tavern whiskey weekly and putting it under the front seat or in the trunk of his yellow Buick Skylark convertible.
During breaks, Ace, me, Chuck S., Zak, Harold, Lee G., Bob R., Mel F., and anybody else who was hanging around us would go out to the Skylark for a "taste." And of course, if a young lady decided to accompany one of us, it was easy for the young lady and gentleman to remain in the car alone after the rest of the group returned to the dance.
As winter turned into spring in 1965, lots of other kids caught on to the in and out policy, and drinking and sex in the parking lot became an epidemic. I always remember coming home from high school one afternoon and seeing the Elgin Courier News newspaper sitting on the counter where my mom had left it so I would see it. There across the front page was a headline that said something like "Drinking and Sex at Algonquin Teen Hang-Out." Oh, oh!
The first reaction of the owners of the New Place was to hire off-duty McHenry County Sheriff's deputies to search all the cars in the parking lot for booze. And search they did! The in and out policy remained, however, and Ace was always the smartest of the group so he found a spot on Pingree Road, only about a mile from the New Place where he could stash the Kentucky Tavern. So now when the Del-Vettes took a break, we'd all pile into Ace's car, by now a 1965 Impala SS convertible, and head to what Ace called "Boozo Road."
I'm not sure how long the Boozo Road visits lasted (It seems like a very long time), but eventually the owners of the New Place adopted a once in, always in policy, meaning that once you paid your admission, you could not leave. But for a while, that in and out policy was something special!
The New Place was open Friday and Saturday nights and on Sunday afternoons. It was also always open on the night before a school holiday, for example the night before Thanksgiving. The night before Thanksgiving in 1965 was warm, and we went over to Tom Manteuffel's house on Woodland Drive in Crystal Lake and played basketball. Then it was off to the New Place in Zak's '56 Mercedes Benz.
Zak had it in for Danny Peacock because Zak's 1st love, Carol B., had apparently expressed an interest in Danny. So Zak decided to pick a fight with Danny with disasterous results, as Danny knocked out four or five of Zak's front teeth. And we all got left at the New Place as Zak split after the scrap with Danny. Harold and I are still trying to figure out how we got home that night. Zak and Danny Peacock are both dead now.
Kids from all over the northwest suburbs came to the New Place. We met kids from Palatine, Arlington Heights, Barrington, Elgin, Dundee, Woodstock, McHenry, Wauconda--you name the town--kids were there. That place really rocked.
When I was teaching at Fremd, one of my colleagues, Jan Crowe, and I struck up a conversation about the New Place one day. Jan reached into her purse, pulled out her wallet, and showed me her New Place membership card, photo and all.
Well, phase two of the New Place is still to come so stay tuned.