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Dancin' in the Moonlight: Connecticut Dance Halls

Credit Chion Wolf
The dance floor in Thrall Hall in Windsor, Connecticut

This hour, we talk about two Connecticut dance halls, each springing from the vision of two very different men who took their respective dance halls down very different paths. One's dream soared, bringing thousands of concert-goers to over 3,000 acts over an eleven-year history. The other's dream stalled, his elaborate dance hall sitting idle for decades.

Thrall Hall in East Windsor is a lot of things. By most accounts, it's a fascinating example of vernacular or folk architecture. Ed Thrall built the dance hall from materials he recovered from demolition projects, sometimes salvaging pieces of historical interest. He built it his own way following his own idiosyncratic ideas about architecture. Thrall Hall contains some engineering marvels including the use of recycled tractor trailer tires under the dance floor to give it adjustable bounce.

What Thrall Hall is not is usable. 

Ed is a peculiar and troubled man. He didn't work and play well with others and you'll hear today an occasionally hair-raising account of his battles with the town. Executive Producer Catie Talarski shares this heartbreaking story of lost dreams, betrayal, and redemption.

Thrall Hall was just about the only thing that could make the wild eleven-year run of the Shaboo Inn in Mansfield seem pale by comparison. That's the second story we tell today. 

Connecticut’s Shaboo Inn, a legendary 1970s and 1980s blues and rock concert dance hall, attracted over 100 top artists, including Bonnie Raitt, Miles Davis, The Police, Aerosmith, and Tom Waits to the former silk mill in Mansfield.

David “Lefty” Foster started Shaboo at the age of 19 when he wasn't yet old enough to be inside the building. He joins us to share stories from this long and storied Connecticut icon. 

Read and listen to Executive Producer Catie Talarski's feature here

Leave your comments below, email us at colin@wnpr.org or tweet us @wnprcolin.

GUESTS:

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Colin McEnroe is a radio host, newspaper columnist, magazine writer, author, playwright, lecturer, moderator, college instructor and occasional singer. Colin can be reached at colin@ctpublic.org.
Chion Wolf is the host of Audacious with Chion Wolf on Connecticut Public, featuring conversations with people who have uncommon or misunderstood experiences, conditions, or professions.
Betsy started as an intern at WNPR in 2011 after earning a Master's Degree in American and Museum Studies from Trinity College. She served as the Senior Producer for 'The Colin McEnroe Show' for several years before stepping down in 2021 and returning to her previous career as a registered nurse. She still produces shows with Colin and the team when her schedule allows.

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