Happy Days: ‘11:45 Club’ was a Pelican community offering to keep kids (mostly) out of trouble in the 1960s
Local News | Published on November 30, 2022 at 4:40pm CST | Author: Kim Pederson0
By Kim Pederson
Baby Boomer Columnist
What do you get when you combine 1967’s Pelican Rapids High School Seniors’ “Best Dancer” and the “Smoothest Operator with Girls” with the 11:45 Club?
You’d have to ask Shirley Satter and Larry Hovland.
“We could really cut a rug,” laughs Shirley. “The 11:45 club was a lot of fun,” says Larry Hovland.
Popular dance moves of the time included the mashed potato, the shimmy, the swim, and the twist. “I guess you could say we did them all,” recalls Larry with a chuckle.
The 11:45 Club was Pelican Rapids’ answer to American Bandstand. For those who don’t remember American Bandstand (seriously?), it was a weekly dance show hosted by Dick Clark from 1952 to 1989. Teens danced to records, but the show also had live performances by popular musicians of the time.
Held after home football and basketball games at the original VFW, twenty-five cents and a hand stamp, and your wah-watusi is on the floor.
“The dances always ended at 11:45, and that’s how the club got its name,” says Bryan Emmel, a 1961 graduate. “The club was solely a community organization with local business support. It had no connection to the high school,” adds Bryan.
As for whether boys asked girls to dance or visa-versa, that is a bit of a hot potato. Some recall that high school steadies would start dancing until someone yelled, “break,” and that couple would choose another dance partner. Others maintain that girls never asked boys to dance, surmising that such a bold move would have been “trashy” for the times.
In the ‘60s, Elvis was a favorite at the 11:45 Club, along with Paul and Paula, the Supremes, the Four Seasons, Chubby Checker, Roy Orbison, and later, The Four Tops, The Rolling Stones, and The Beatles. Kids shared their records, along with the club’s purchases.
Some schools called their dances sock hops. Sock hops originated in the ‘40s. Because dances were held in the school gymnasium and street shoes were not allowed on the varnished gym floor, everyone danced in their socks. The music evolved from vinyl records to live bands.
Sock hops were popular in Pelican in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. Primarily a junior high thing, baby boomers rocked to records or 8-track tapes by Three Dog Night, Doobie Brothers, Led Zepplin, Chicago, BTO, and Grand Fund Railroad.
Choosing a live band for major dances was a highly coveted assignment and getting the skinny early was key. Entirely judging a book by its cover, the teenagers who made the decisions chose bands by how cool the guys and gals on the posters looked.
Also playing the sock hop scene were local bands such as Lemon Meringue, a 1967 quartet of Pelican teenagers with Dave Johnson and Leon Kratzke on guitars, Jeff Johnson on drums, and Bruce Arntson on keyboard.
No one worried about suggestive dances, grinding, or twerking. (Personal opinion, but twerking is not a dance; it’s a mating call.) And although most recall the last dance was always a slow dance, the chaperones ensured no funny business went on. The biggest concern was if all that Bryllecreem and DippityDo would hold up after the jitterbug.
They really were happy days.
Special Contributor, Baby Boomer columnist
Editor’s note: Pelican Rapids High School graduate Kim Pederson’s regularly appearing column in the Pelican Rapids Press is a special feature, for the Baby Boom generation..
Pederson herself is a “Baby Boom” era product—Pelican Class of 1976.
Her reflections will appear in future editions of the Press.
Born and raised in Pelican Rapids, Kim continues to live in the area. Kim spent most of her professional life working at Otter Tail Power Company in Fergus Falls and was the manager of Market Planning at the time of her retirement.
She is a freelance writer and is currently working on a series of short children’s stories.
We encourage readers to connect with Kim at a special email address: email@example.com