Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom
|Former names||Club Casino|
|Address||169 Ocean Boulevard|
|Location||Hampton Beach, New Hampshire|
|Opened||July 15, 1899|
Opened in 1899, the Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom is a seasonal live music and comedy venue located on the boardwalk of Hampton Beach, New Hampshire. The venue is open from April to November, and within those eight months schedules upwards of 70 shows. In 2010, Pollstar ranked the Casino Ballroom #23 in the Top 100 Worldwide Club Venues.
The facility was opened on July 15, 1899 by Wallace D. Lovell, who owned the Exeter, Hampton and Amesbury Street Railway Company, with the hope of bringing more business and tourism into the Hampton Beach area. In 1927, the ballroom was added to adapt to the changing nature of entertainment, when the national star was just coming into existence. The new owners wanted a facility that could hold 5,000 people, and thus the Casino Ballroom was born. After the expansion, the Casino Ballroom boasted the largest dance floor in New England, and 20,000 people made use of the massive space on a weekly basis that hosted acts such as Bing Crosby and Duke Ellington.
The rise of rock and roll brought many more changes to the Casino Ballroom. The owners at the time sold the facility to a consortium of local businessmen interested in restoring it to its former glory. After renovating the facility and restoring many of its original features, the Ballroom reopened in the 1970s as Club Casino. Renovations, however, were not enough to draw promoters back to the venue. Seeing an opportunity, one of the new owners sought to book then-little-known names such as U2 and Ray Charles as a way of restoring the venue's reputation. His bet paid off, and following another renovation in the late '70s and early '80s, Club Casino began booking the likes of Jerry Seinfeld, Melissa Etheridge and Phish. So popular was the location, in fact, that it was able to fit 50 events into a three-month period, unheard of at the time for most music halls.
In the 1990s, the club started to develop a reputation for tough bouncers and strict rules against dancing. Again, changes were made to the Club Casino. In an attempt to regain some of its past glory, the name was changed back to the Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom, the facade of the building was redone, and the adjacent hotel demolished. The venue's season now extends from April to November, and it continues to bring in some of the top names in entertainment.
On July 8, 1971, an additional 4,000 fans showed up to an already sold-out Jethro Tull concert. Ticketless fans started rioting and scaling the walls to climb in through the windows. Police and the National Guard were called in, and the incident resulted in the town of Hampton banning rock concerts for a number of years.
On August 9, 1995, the day Jerry Garcia died, his former Grateful Dead bandmates RatDog took the stage to play a show at the Casino. Fans and media outlets descended on the Ballroom, filling the venue's parking lot to hold a candlelight vigil while listening to the band play inside.
The Casino Ballroom is the only venue in the world that has hosted three generations of the Nelson family: Ozzie & Harriet Nelson in the 1930s, Ricky Nelson in the 1960s & 70s, and Matthew & Gunnar Nelson in the 1990s.
The following are some of the artists who have performed at the Casino Ballroom:
- "Pollstar's Top 100 Worldwide Club Venues 2010", 10 January 2011. Retrieved on 2011-02-17.
- Trodson, Lars. "Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom: A Century of Entertainment Excellence", 25-29 May 1999. Retrieved on 2011-02-17.
- "Casino Ballroom History", 30 July 2010. Retrieved on 2011-02-17.
- Garcia Quinones, Rafael. "Revisiting the Fight of the Year for 2001: Micky Ward vs Emanuel Burton", 9 January 2010. Retrieved on 2011-02-17.
- "Historic New England Ballroom Features Bag End Bass Sound System", 10 June 1999. Retrieved on 2011-02-17