Friday, May 4, 2012

New Place II: the Glory Days of the Teen Nite Club

I remember junior year in the spring of 1965 sitting in study hall at Crystal Lake Community High School and looking across the desks at my buddy Ace, who was seated on the other side of the huge room.

Ace looked up at the clock, looked back at me, smiled, and mouthed the words, "Only six more hours!"  I wriggled nervously in my seat as Mrs. Prybyl, the study hall teacher, looked my way, "How will I be able to wait so long," I thought to myself as I pretended to look down at the homework I knew I wouldn't finish until Monday morning.

Friday afternoon, and two nights and one afternoon of dancing at the New Place, the teen nite club on Route 31 outside of Crystal Lake, were coming up.  Man, this 17 year old was excited!

Ace's '65 Impala SS Convertible
Ace always had the vehicle!  At first a '64  yellow Buick Special convertible, and later a '65 turquoise Chevy Impala SS convertible.  Me, I had no car.  My dad drove a '59 Rambler station wagon that he wouldn't let me drive unless my mother persuaded him, and that was VERY SELDOM.

At about 6:30 on Friday night, Ace would pull into my driveway, and off we'd go, picking up Harold, Zak, Ken R., Bob R., Chuck S., Lee G., and anyone else who wanted to go to the New Place.

A stop at Boozo Road (really Pingree Rd.) for a snort of Kentucky Tavern whiskey was a must, then some heavy duty gum or mints to mask our breaths, and it was off to the New Place.

The driveway at the New Place was a circle that looped around the old barn on Route 31 between Algonquin and Crystal Lake.  Kids entered on the south side, and we would always arrive fashionably late so that the girls waiting in line to get in would see us as we looped past the entrance.  That '65 Impala SS was a real cool car, especially with the top down!  Ace never lacked a girlfriend!

The New Place was so popular in the spring and summer of 1965 that the owners added more space to the old milk barn.  First, a patio was built on the north side with a high stage at the northeast corner of the patio.  The original floor level stage on the west side inside of the barn had been moved to the northeast corner inside and was elevated high above the dance floor, and a second inside stage was built inside in the northwest corner a bit lower than the northeast stage.

Later, the upstairs hayloft was put to use as half of the second floor was cut off right in the middle of the barn, and a balcony was added.  Kids could go upstairs, look down at the bands on the lower level, and dance up there.  What was once an intimate teen nite club with a low first floor roof had now become a spacious venue.

Beau Brummels
And the owners needed lots of space because the New Place was really hopping now.  In the spring of 1965 the Beau Brummels from San Francisco were hired to play.  The group had had two top twenty singles, "Laugh Laugh" and "Just a Little."  The Beau Brummels were big time!

I kick myself once a week for not going to that Beau Brummels concert at the New Place.  As I recall, the cost was $8.00 a ticket, and we were used to paying a buck and a half to get into the New Place.  Eight dollars was too much.  What idiots we were!

Janet D. from Woodstock DID go, and when I talked to her a few years back, she said the Beau Brummels' show was great.  Janet went with her brother, and she said the night was real foggy.  I have no idea where I was the night the Beau Brummels played the New Place, and I still regret not being there.

Janet D. was one of the Woodstock girls I mentioned in my "Early New Place" posting.  I also told the story of how the New Place's in and out policy had eventually gone away because too many kids were drinking and having sex in the parking lot.

The Woodstock girls' arrival at the New Place was a result of the demise of the in and out policy.  When the Elgin Courier News ran the front page story in late winter of 1965 about the drinking and sex at the New Place (see "Early New Place" post), the New Place owners hired off-duty McHenry County Sheriff's deputies to be on the scene for the entire evening.

Old McHenry County Courthouse where Sheriff Ed D. lived.
Chris D. and her brother Terry were the children of the McHenry County Sheriff, Ed D.  Chris lived in Woodstock with her dad, and Terry lived in Crystal Lake with his mom.  The sheriff's quarters were in the old courthouse on the square in Woodstock and so Chris would have her friends show up there, and they would all ride with the sheriff's deputy from Woodstock to the New Place.

I don't know how many teenage girls the deputy got in that car, but thinking back, it seems like there were more than five or six.   Maybe there were multiple cars.  Hopefully someone knows and can let me know.

At any rate, we Crystal Lake boys bonded with the Woodstock girls.  They were funny, down-to-earth, and they loved to dance.  Janet D. was the first girl I ever kissed, I mean really KISSED, back in February of 1965 when I was still 16.

The big problem was that the Woodstock girls had to ride home with the cop.  They couldn't go home with any of us.  That resulted in some 60's teen angst.  How nice it would have been to go back to Boozo Road with one of the Woodstock girls, park, and . . . , but that was never to be!

My first real girlfriend, Sandy, L., was a Woodstock girl.  We met in May of 1965 after I had arrived late to the New Place after playing with the band, the Rooks, at a Lundall Jr. High eighth grade dance.  We dated through the summer and early fall of '65.  I later went out with Rhonda F. from Woodstock in '68 & 69.

The Remains:  Mark Smith, John Baldwin, Tim McPike, Jim Wyman, and Tip Hale.
One of my bands even played at the New Place in early 1966.  The Remains was the band, and we filled in during the breaks of the main attraction, The Squires.  The above photograph was taken in March of 1966 in McHenry at Shea's School of Music.  The Remains never reached the level of The Del-Vettes or The Squires, but we played lots of shows around the Crystal Lake area in '65 and '66.

Five or six years ago there was an exhibit at the Arlington Heights Historical Center on the teen nite clubs in the northwest suburbs.  Most of the photos were of the Cellar in Arlington Heights, which was THE place to go.  But there were some newspaper articles that mentioned the New Place.  I never felt so old as I stood looking at the exhibits.

Now, I'm just glad that I have a good memory and can get this stuff about the New Place on the internet.  Let me know if you have any photos.  I'd love to post them.


  1. What a nice post. Who's the good-looking young man in the maroon blazer?

    1. Rabeh!!!!!!!!!!! Talked about you in class last week when we were reading Carl Sandburg's poem about the stockyards hunkey. Told the kids you could recite it word for word!

  2. Wasn't the Rooks you, Steve Brown, me and ... who, Mike Walkup? I completely forgot our name. I remember Brown's Rambler, sharing the mike with you, and your Farfeisa.

    1. Still have the Farfisa, Tim, and a nice vintage Bandmaster amp. with the large speaker cabinet. Just waiting for your call. Of course, you were the only musician in the group. My brother plays in a band with the brother of one of the guys you played with later in McHenry. Parks is his last name.
      Yes, the Rooks was you, me, Steve Brown, and Mike Walkup. My brother runs into Walkup in CL occasionally. I remember trying out for the McHenry Co. Fair in 1965 when Brown had just had his tonsils removed. Also, going up to Milton College in Wisconsin to play.
      Remember in the summer of '67 when we jammed with those McHenry guys and we were going to cut a record? "Summer and You" was the name of it. We went and "tried out" at an apartment in the inner northwest suburbs.

    2. Yeah, on the jr. high dance: We had to wait for Megan McDonough to play and sing before we went on in the Lundall Jr. High gym. We were late playing. Then we headed to the New Place together that night.
      My memory scares the crap out of me. It's sometimes a curse!