During the early days of Sheridan, formal dances were often held at the Sheridan Inn, the best hotel between Chicago and San Francisco. But what about the outlying communities, where did they go for socialization and dancing? In the mining communities north of Sheridan, each small community had its own dance hall, some included a pool hall as well. Among them was Washuts Dancehall in Kleenburn, where not only dances but many wedding celebrations were held. Folks would walk from one community to the next to take part in the festivities. Dietz, the home of multiple coal mines, was the home of “The Country Nite Club”, it thrived during the mining heyday and stayed open well into the 1970s. It was a bar with an attached dancehall area. Bruno’s Nightclub and Dancehall was located at Kleenburn, it too, was a popular spot for libations and dancing well into the 1970s. Many of the local communities had their own polka bands and often they chose Bruno’s as their practice space and spontaneously a country dance would commence.
Outlying ranching communities also had their own dancehalls, sometimes attached to bars and post offices, sometimes in separate buildings known as community halls. There were country dances well into the 1970’s in Spotted Horse, Leiter, Passaic, Decker, Wyarno, Kearney and Arvada. Arvada was known for its Christmas dance, occurring on the night of December 25. All ages took part in these “country dances”. Older folks enjoyed seeing and visiting their neighbors, young adults did the latest square dances, teens learned to dance and babies slept the night away on the pile of coats stacked in a corner! Wyarno still sports one of the few wooden dance floors. It’s for sale now, so if you know any buyers, maybe we can all take part in a community dance once again. Kearney Community Hall is in an exciting time. Once the centerpiece of community social events, the building is being renovated and will once again host dances dances, wedding receptions and a myriad of social occasions for all of the Sheridan area. Perhaps the era of the community dance hall is not just a past memory but a viable part of Sheridan County’s future!
Nancy Herdt | Sheridan Travel & Tourism