CLEAR LAKE -- Adam Meseke is 37 years old — far younger than some 1950s rock ’n’ roll enthusiasts.

But that doesn’t matter, he said Saturday, as the Maxwell resident watched Big Sandy and the Fly-Rite Boys get things started on the last night of the Winter Dance Party at the Surf Ballroom.

“This music is everyone’s music,” he said. “It spans generations.”

By 7 p.m. the dance floor of the historic ballroom was packed with people of all ages, hungry for rock ’n’ roll.

From a stage awash in deep purples, blues and pinks, the music switched up from the rockabilly beat of Sid King and the Five Strings — who joined Big Sandy and His Fly-Rite Boys early in the evening — to the New York sound of the Bobbettes and crooner Pat Boone.

The night ended with a rocking tribute to Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper, thanks to John Mueller and his Winter Dance Party review.

Meseke said he was excited to see Sid King and the Five Strings, while his wife, Jennifer, wanted to see more of Big Sandy and the Fly-Rite Boys.

Letter-jacketed Steve Moritz of Colesburg, who said he started coming to the Surf about five years ago with his wife and high school sweetheart, Linda, said Danny and the Juniors topped his list.

Linda wore the letter sweater she sported in 1966, the year the couple graduated from high school.

“We just enjoy that type of music — and it’s easy to dance to,” said Linda, who also liked DC and the Drifters.

Larry and Sue Schweinebart of Baxter looked as if they stepped from a 1959 Cadillac. Sue wore a vintage pale blue chiffon, mid-calf dress, while Larry cut a smart figure in a dinner jacket. 

They said they also were big, big fans of Big Sandy, but admitted they appreciated the “full package this year,” said Larry.

“It’s really, really good music,” he said.

Bob “Big Sandy” Williams said he was “blown away” by the response to his band’s first appearance at the Surf.

“It far exceeds my expectations; it is just so wonderful to be in this place,” he said.

Sid King echoed his thoughts. Like Buddy Holly, King was a native Texan playing a new brand of music in the dawn of rock ’n’ roll. He recalled meeting Buddy Holly at the Cotton Club in Lubbock before Holly hit it big.

Even then, he said, everyone knew there was something special about Holly, only 19 then.

“Being here is really, really great,” he said.

Alice Spitler, 73, of Webster City, was outfitted in a purple poodle skirt decorated with 45 rpm records. She also wore small versions of the records fashioned into earrings.

She came with her niece, Jean Vinsand, 51, of Fort Dodge. Both are big fans of Josh Holmes.

But for Spitler, Buddy Holly still carries her heart, she said.

“I almost cried” when she came to the Surf for the first time 11 years ago. She was among the last of the crowds to enjoy Holly’s live music, having attended the Winter Dance Party on Jan. 30, 1959, at the Laramar Ballroom in Fort Dodge.

“I had his autograph (that she got that night) for years, but lost it in a fire,” she said.

She sighed, looked around and smiled.

“But I still have my memories,” Spitler said.


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