Opened in January 1915, the LaGrande Dance Hall was the most popular
dance venue in Malad from when it opened until the 1950s when it closed. The
large building in downtown Malad was always packed on Saturday nights when
everyone came to town.
The wooden dance floor was said to be the best and largest in the
Intermountain West. Two large dressing rooms were fitted with large mirrors for
the benefit of women. A “maid” was hired to assist ladies with their hair, and an
“artist” helped with makeup. Large area rugs made the dressing rooms
The orchestra balcony was built high in the center of the south wall; a ladder
was needed for orchestra members to climb up to the stage where they played. A
huge balcony was on the east side where parents could socialize and enjoy the
music while keeping an eye on the younger people on the dance floor. Built-in
benches were around the north and south sides of the Hall where those wanting to
dance or taking a breather could sit. Sometimes the crowds were so large that
spectators sat in the dancers’ seats as well as in the balcony, leaving the dancers
with no place to sit.
An advertisement for LaGrande Hall noted that it was “the most popular
dance hall in southern Idaho” with hundreds of people coming from out of town
for the best music, the good floor, and “some of the best and most respectable
dancers in the west.” Dances were held every Saturday night, beginning at 9:00
p.m. The price of admission was $.50 with free admission for ladies on some
Because Malad High School had no gym until the 1940s, all special dances
and basketball games were held at LaGrande Dance Hall. Students decorated the
Hall for Junior Proms and Senior Balls. The basketball team played on the Dance
Hall’s wooden floors after the boys carried their gear on the mile-long walk from
the School Block to downtown.
By the 1950s, cars and televisions had arrived in Malad. People were more
inclined to stay home to watch television or to travel out of town on Saturday
nights. The wooden floors were removed in the late 1950s when the Malad Lions
Club took over the building with plans to turn it into an indoor swimming pool. By
the fall of 1962, the LaGrande Aqua Plunge was opened at the site of the former
dance hall. Due to bad weather, negligence, and the earthquake in 1975, the roof
had to be removed and the pool reconfigured as an outdoor pool.
The LaGrande Aqua Plunge continues to serve the community by offering
swimming lessons and serving as a popular exercise and recreation venue and a
site for community, church, youth, and family parties, reunions, and activities.
The Idaho Enterprise, January 7 and 14, 1915
Cora W. Bickmore, The Idaho Enterprise, July 19, 1990
Ruth Thomas Deschamps, The Story of Ruth, Volume 1