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September 11, 2017 10:23 PM

Small Dance Hall Wins Big Award

It's no secret country music hits a high note in South Dakota.

This month Garth Brooks will play nine sold-out shows.

Country superstars Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan and Miranda Lambert have all recently played in the state, but this year's South Dakota Country Music Hall of Fame's Promoter of the Year hasn't been responsible for any of those big-name acts.

Instead, he's keeping the dance alive for those who love polka, waltzes and local country music.

Here's a look inside the Carlock Dance Hall.

Where the dirt road ends and the pavement begins just south of Gregory, you'll find a small dance hall.

That in and of itself might sound like the lyrics of a country song, but there aren't enough words in a song to explain the Carlock Dance Hall.

"I enjoy dancing. I've always enjoyed it," Mary Kaupp said.

Kaupp drives almost an hour every weekend to go to dances here. Carlock hosts all kinds of bands during the summer. This night people of all ages are taking in a polka and waltz band.

"I came here with my grandma. I mostly come here every Saturday," Eight-year-old Lainey Dobson said.

Owner Dennis Hanson also remembers coming here as a kid with his parents, who are no longer living. That's why he decided to buy the hall 14 years ago, even though most people would not think of it as a good investment.

"There's not much money brought in. It's just for fun," Hanson said.

While it may be fun, it's also a lot of hard work.

"He works really hard. A lot of people don't really realize how hard he works. His heart and soul is in this place," Hanson's son, Josh, said.

Josh says that's why it's extra special that his dad has been inducted into the Hall of Fame.

"He has his own t-shirt. I'm very proud of my old man," Josh said.

While there aren't dances here on the weekdays, it's still open with self-serve ice cream.

"It's kind of nice for people to drive by and help themselves and put the money in the coffee can," Hanson said.

Hanson says while a few people may abuse the policy, it does help pay the electric bill.
"There's not very many dance halls around in this country. I'm trying to keep it alive as long as I can anyway," Hanson said.

Because for many people, it's not just a dance hall. Vans even bring people here from assisted living facilities.

"There are some 90 year olds," Kaupp said.

Others, like Kaupp, say this is a great way to get in some physical activity, as well as catch up with friends and family. Kaupp started coming here after losing her husband.
"You have different people to dance with. I don't have a steady partner, so I enjoy it because I get to dance with different people," Kaupp said.

Hanson's own mother came here well into her 90's until she passed away five years ago.

"That was a joy every night to play to his mother. She couldn't hear towards the end, but when I sat down beside her, she would know it was me," Musician Rodger Rueb said.

Music that can put all of your worries aside, no matter who you are or how old you are.
"I actually feel good after I come after a day's work," Kaupp said.

That's why the sounds of music and the country are playing on at Carlock.

Carlock used to be a town, but now Hanson's house and the dance hall are all that remains.

This summer the dances at Carlock run through October 28th.

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