Crystal Ballroom

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Spirits still enjoy themselves here; and watch the living.



The 1914 Crystal Ballroom building, which is listed on the US National Register of Historic Places, is owned and restored beautifully by the McMenamins brothers, is a 3 story structure that is home to a pub on the first floor, “Lola’s Room,” for dance era music parties on the second, and on the third, one finds the vintage, blast from the past, restored Crystal Ballroom that features a wide variety of live music; “Something for everyone: everything from rock ‘n’ roll and country, to hip-hop and big band swing.”


The Crystal Ballroom, a traditionally much loved dance hall, was designed to be the place of special moments between people, and the perfect place to dance the night away! Many couples who came here for a date night throughout the eras wound up becoming married. The wonderful atmosphere was created by not only by the high, “awesome ceiling”, large, intricate historical murals, floor to ceiling style windows, lovely, intricate wood carvings, balconies, staircases, “flamboyant wall sconces” but also the huge chandeliers that hang from the ceiling. The sense of it’s history can be seen through all the old posters, and inspiring art work depicting past events at the Crystal Ballroom, keeping its historical past front and center.

One of its unique features that has been restored is the mechanical floating dance floor, described as “Like dancing on clouds,” which probably explains why there is no seating in the ballroom itself. There is a balcony over-looking the ballroom though, where there is a bar and seating to watch the live concert and the people dancing on the floating dance floor.

A good thing to be aware of is that the Crystal Ballroom separates out the under 21 crowd from the over 21 crowd using black lights, special stamps, and sometimes dividers.This as a result divides up the Crystal Ballroom floor into 2 different groups.

Past guests who have gone to a concert report that the younger crowd is located closest to the stage. This is not a high stage, making it hard for short people to see the performance if in the second, over 21 group. So if you wish to actually see the performance, come early and sit in the balcony area.

The security detail does a great job keeping drugs, and movie cameras out of the Crystal Ballroom, and it is a safe, enjoyable venue to visit.



First owner of The Crystal Ballroom was a fellow by the name of Montrose Ringler, who opened the Crystal Ballroom in 1914 as a dance club, under the watchful eye of the authorities who threatened to arrest anyone dancing such scandalous banned dances, like the Tango; popular with some of the youth.

During the Depression years, the owner, Mr. Watson held events to keep everyone’s spirits up, offering old-time dance revivals! It was known as a family gathering place, and other social events. Several Proms of black schools were held here because of the old segregation laws.

During the 1950s, it was a popular place to square dance, and participate in other line dances. Beat-nick poetry readings, and other entertainment quirks of the ’50s could also be enjoyed here.

From 1960-1969, The Crystal Ballroom was called the ultimate rock place; offered first rate rock, rhythm and blues entertainment, showcasing such artists as the Grateful Dead, Buffalo Springfield, James Brown, Marvin Gaye and Ike & Tina Turner. Some say that James Brown fired Jimmy Hendrix in the middle of a concert here.

The Crystal Ballroom came into private hands and stopped being a public venue by the end of the ’60s, becoming instead an art studio for more free-thinkers as the Hippie movement had come to town and settled in Portland. This art studio was the home of some very interesting artworks, done by some talented people, inspired by the aura of the ballroom.

By the mid-nineties, the building was creaking with old age, and badly in need of a boatload of money for restoration, or face the wrecking ball. Along came the McMenamins brothers, in the late ’90s who were willing to do so. They restored the building, and added some additional sources of income to make the place even more profitable. They put McMenamins brewery on the second floor, that provides beer for all the bars in the buildings, as well as their other locations.

Hopefully they are saving their funds to do something about the sound system at the Crystal Ballroom, or perhaps hire a more skilled sound engineer who realizes that the sound would need to be reset after the room fills with people. (This is a common complaint of discerning guests who voice their opinions on Yelp.)

Today, The Crystal Ballroom specializes in VJ-run, modern-era dance parties in Lola’s Room, jumping entertainment, private celebrations & events, and a variety of national, regional, and local live music bands, including loud rock shows in the Crystal Ballroom. Dance lessons, however, are still offered at the Crystal Ballroom, as the need to learn to dance has been a constant desire through the ages.



Buildings and Places that have absorbed a lot of energy and give it off as well from events in both their past and present history, can draw spirits who need energy that once were involved in these sites. Sites of wars, places of confinement, and recreation/entertainment venues typically have a lot of contained energy that flows into their atmosphere.

Renovation and restoration of a historically beloved public building can act like a huge environmental trigger to those who are either delighted or displeased with the results.

People who enjoyed dancing and music in public ballrooms, and dance halls sometimes like to visit these places again when they have passed on, to perhaps remember fond memories, recreate the fun, or just watch the living doing so.

Entities like to push buttons and play with items that are run by electricity, especially elevators, that can spare the energy needed to float up or down the stairs.



The entities who visit and hang out around the Crystal Ballroom come out and be themselves when the building is closed to the public, and quiet.

Spirits Having Fun!

When there isn’t a living soul in the building, the managers have heard groups of people talking and laughing. When they checked it out, the sounds stopped ABRUPTLY and of course nobody was there.

Spirits Going About Their Business

Managers and staff have heard the distinctive sounds of foot steps on the wooden floors when the building was again empty.

Elevator Hijinks!

The elevator goes up and down by itself, suggesting it is being used or played with by an unseen presence.

Seen Apparitions

Apparitions have been seen by the staff and managers:

One manager saw and heard what he thought was a person walking by his office, but when he quickly looked out the door, this person had disappeared completely, melting into the air.


Probably so. Reports of many personal experiences are compelling, though not proven by any EVPs or other evidence captured. If so, it hasn’t been made public.

Managers and staff have talked to at least one author, and other on-line sources about their ghostly encounters.

I can’t find any hard evidence that has been published on-line, which backs up the many personal experiences reported over the years.

Sensitives have felt a great deal of energy coming from the walls of the building itself, that in turn keeps the spirits happy as they get their energy they need to manifest. The building has soaked in plenty of happy energy throughout its years of its existence.



332 W. Burnside Street
Portland, OR 97209
(503) 225-0047

The Crystal Ballroom is located near the corner of SW 14th Avenue and Burnside Street, across from the Crystal Hotel.



  • Haunts of Western Oregon
    by Kent Goodman
    pg. 84
    Schiffer Publishing

Our Haunted Paranormal Stories are Written by Julie Carr

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