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After 35 years, Butch Automatic bids farewell to the stage at Waconia Lakeside Ballroom

March 9, 2009

By Jen Bakken
Staff Writer

WACONIA, MN – If walls could talk – there would be generations of stories revealed under the roof of the Waconia Lakeside Ballroom, though some may not want them repeated.

From rock, country, and polka bands, those walls have shook with music, entertainment, and dancing for decades.

Though the music and entertainment will come to an end this month, the stories will continue to be shared for life- times.

As the saying goes, “all good things must come to an end,” and this rings true for the ballroom.

There is one last chance to rock Saturday, March 14 from 8 p.m. to midnight, before owners Patty, Rick, and Toots Wagner hand the keys over to their family business.

It seems fitting that taking the stage for this last show is Butch Automatic, which has regularly filled the dance floor since its first Lakeside show in 1974.

Carver County has purchased the building and land, located in Lake Waconia Regional Park. Furnishings and equipment will be sold at an auction Wednesday, March 25.

The Wagners have owned the ballroom since 1982, but also owned it when it was the Paradise Ballroom from 1960-65. The structure burned to the ground in 1971, then reopened two years later.

Throughout the ballroom’s history, many big names have stepped on its stage, including Davy Jones and Micky Dolenz of the Monkees, and bands such as Limited Warranty, Slave Raider, and The Suburbs.

Many other events make Lakeside’s history unique including more than 1,500 weddings, banquets, teen dances, and even weeknight volleyball matches.

“My fondest memories are of the weddings,” said Patty Wagner. “Well, no, all of it, the people we have met that are more than just customers; it’s all been great.”

As Butch Automatic celebrates its 35th anniversary of performing danceable rock music, they will also be reliving their glory days on the Lakeside stage one last time.

Butch Automatic has strong roots in the area, having entertained well over a half million fans over the years. Their high-energy theatrical rock show is sure to once again draw an enthusiastic audience.

While performing not only top-10 classic rock hits from the ‘60s through the ‘80s, the band also provides fans with show-stopping production numbers.

“We’ve known the guys from Butch Automatic a long time,” Wagner said. “They have been playing here forever. It’ll be great to have them here for our last evening show.”

When Butch Automatic takes the stage as usual they will recreate live performances from some of the more interesting acts in rock music history.

From the long, flowing beards and spinning guitars of ZZ Top, the black cape from the prince of darkness Ozzy Osborne, and the antics of The Blues Brothers, to the disco beat of the Village People, the Lakeside dance floor will certainly come alive once more.

“Dave Socher, Bob Seliski, Mike Mathisen, and I are original Butch Automatic members,” said Bob Hutter. “who have memories of the early days performing to large crowds at the Lakeside. I believe the record crowd for a Butch Automatic dance at the Lakeside was 1,400.”

Through many of their 35 years, the band considered Lakeside to be their home base.

Both the ballroom and Butch Automatic have become household names throughout the state of Minnesota. Though Lakeside is closing its doors, Butch Automatic plans to continue to entertain its fans, with only one change – the stage.

Last chance to rock at Waconia Lakeside Ballroom

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Local band Butch Automatic will take the stage at Waconia Lakeside Ballroom Saturday, March 14 from 8 p.m. to midnight.

The ballroom will be closing its doors forever, and owners hope many will join them for this free appreciation dance.

There will be pictures and ballroom memorabilia on display.

The last day of operation for the ballroom will be Sunday, March 15 with performances by The Country Polkateers, Dale Dahmen’s Polka Beats, and Johnny Helget from 1 to 6 p.m.

For more information, visit www.waconialakesideballroom.com or www.butchautomatic.com.


 

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