CLEAR LAKE — A group of people wearing T-shirts with “Front Row Club” printed on them rushed into the Surf Ballroom Friday night when the doors opened for the evening and made a beeline for the front of the stage.

Pat Schuman and her husband, Jim, arrived at the Surf at 6 p.m. and waited for an hour in the cold for the doors to open so they could grab a spot in the front row.

She said they had waited outside for four hours to ensure a front-row view during the Winter Dance Party 50th Anniversary celebration in 2009.

“It was cold, but not as cold as this year,” she said.

The Schumans have been coming to the Surf for the Winter Dance Party for the past 22 years “because of the music and the friends,” Pat said.

They met someone from England at a Winter Dance Party, and last year he came to visit them in Ohio.

Jim said they also met people from Cyprus and France at the Surf who have been guests in their home.

The floor of the Surf on Friday night was full of people dancing to the music of Marvelous Marvin Short & His Winter Dance Party Sock Hop Band, who played hits from ’50s artists such as the Everly Brothers.

Some of the women, including Kathy Smith of Fort Dodge and her sister, Connie Schinn of Charleston, S.C., were dressed in poodle skirts.

Schinn said she enjoys “the music and the atmosphere, and being with my sister.”

Smith said they enjoyed seeing Ricky Nelson’s twin sons play his father’s songs on Thursday night.

“That brought back lots of good memories,” she said.

Smith joked that when they were growing up her sister “was going to marry Ricky Nelson and I was going to marry Elvis.”


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