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…and then we danced

By Staff | Jan 17, 2010

For more than 40 years there was one favorite place to hold a wedding dance for Faribault County couples – the Golden Bubble Ballroom south of Wells – known locally as just ‘the Bubble.’

“We held a dance there almost every Friday and Saturday night,” says former Bubble owner Kenneth Thompson of Bricelyn. “There were wedding dances, firemen’s dances and public dances.”

It was a popular spot. Sometimes cars were parked up and down Highway 22 for a mile in either direction.

Thompson and his wife, Gloria, owned and operated the Golden Bubble Steak House and Ballroom from 1978 until 2005 when they sold it.

They purchased the facility from Ron Palucha, who had operated it for just 22 months.

“It was started in the early 1950s as just a steakhouse,” Thompson recalls.

Henry Kruger of Wells owned it, and in 1963 he built the original ballroom, adding it to the steak house.

“We operated it just the same way, as a steak house and a ballroom,” Thompson says. “We kept the name the same, too.”

Although he says he doesn’t really know where the name ‘Golden Bubble’ came from, he assumes it had to do with champagne bubbles.

When the Thompsons purchased the Bubble, they moved from Frost into the house next door to the Bubble as part of the deal.

On Good Friday night in 1980, Thompson got up in the middle of the night to fix bottles for his 6-week-old twins.

“We had no water pressure in the house,” he recalls. “The water line for the house came from the Bubble’s well.”

So, Thompson went over to the ballroom to check it out. He opened the door and found the interior was ablaze.

“It was a shock,” he says. “I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.”

He called to report the fire, and says four or five departments responded – and they got there fast.

However, it was too late to save the ballroom, which was a totally wooden structure.

“Once the fire opened a hole in the roof, it went up like a torch,” he remembers. “The firemen, however, were able to save the restaurant area.”

The Thompsons made the decision to rebuild. The new structure sported steel beams and walls and had a cement floor under the wooden dance floor.

The Golden Bubble ballroom reopened on New Year’s Eve that year. But, that meant that almost all of 1980 was a business loss.

“Insurance doesn’t cover everything,” Thompson says. “We had our busiest year ever booked in 1980, and we had to cancel everything.”

To read more of this story, see this week’s Register.