WATERBURY, N.E. (KELO) — From the 1920s to the 1960s, a dance hall was a popular place for a lot of small towns. They almost always featured live music. Believe it or not, there’s still one that is up and running, but as you’re about to see, this dance hall is more like a rock n roll museum.
Through the rolling hills of Northeast Nebraska, there’s an attraction you won’t find on any tourist map.
At the end of a winding road, you’ll find a place that’s rich in romance and rock n roll.
“It’s a place where people find joy,” Jeanette Schwartz said.
This is what she’s talking about.
An old gymnasium in Waterbury, Nebraska that’s been converted into Stormin Norman’s Rock N Roll Auditorium.
“We started out buying this building for storage for our vehicles. My husband collected cars,” Jeanette said.
Her husband was Norman Schwartz.
When the Waterbury school closed in 1961, Norman bought the gymnasium and turned it into his own personal playground, where people come to dance like Elvis and make moves like Marilyn.
“You, you, you can’t explain it until you walk through,” Joe Kavanaugh said.
Joe Kavanaugh is one of hundreds of people who line up once a month to come to Stormin Normans’ to dance to live music; old time rock n roll.
“Several women come whose husbands don’t like to dance, so I dance with a lot of those ladies,” Kavanaugh said.
“There’s always a line out there, if you don’t get here early, it’s hard to get a table,” of Wayne, Nebraska said.
Norman Schwartz died in 2013 of cancer. His wife Jeanette misses him dearly.
But she has kept the dance hall hopping in his honor with the help of a lot of friends.
“I can’t say enough about the people who come here, they are honestly all friends, the minute they walk in they become good friends with everyone, it’s just a welcoming place,” Jeanette said.
A place they say is magical, filled with music memorabilia and motor vehicles.
“A lot of people actually donate things would you like to have this,” Jeanette said.
“I know people who come here who don’t even dance, they just come to look at the place,” Kavanaugh said.
But they do pack the floor.
Some say the dance hall takes them back in time where they get to relive the good old days when they could cuddle with their honeys and dance cheek to cheek.
“It’s just a nice place to go to get away and have fun for the older generation,” Paul Larson, who drove three and a half hours to be here said.
“Old duffers like me, it’s our second childhood, we like to get out and rock n roll,”
Finding the bands to play old-time rock n roll music, Jeanette says is easy.
“They call me, they call me,” Jeanette said.
Jeanette says she rarely finds time to dance herself, because she’s so busy making sure everyone else is having a good time.
“People say how can you keep that going, well it’s where my friends are, I love them all you know I do,” Jeanette said.
But when she does, she puts on a smile and thinks about one man and what she’d give to dance with him one more time in the place they built with love.
“It’s a huge part of Norm, he and I put it together,” Jeanette said. “As long as the people come, I’ll be here.”
“Welcome to Stormin Normans’s a great place and enjoy your evening,”