07/07/08 371 W, 1 I - + 8 - 13 The Longbranch Has Closed

The News & Observer delivers the unfortunate but perhaps not entirely unexpected news. One of the area's longest-running dance halls has closed. They shut their doors over the weekend, having filed for bankruptcy protection in February. Opened in 1982 and located on Creekside Drive, the Longbranch was a... half 'n' half club. They had a "rock side" and a "country side." Some 16 years ago, this blogger discovered the country side. The dancing was intriguing, the music was less ear-splitting, and the "gals" had considerably bigger hair. (Fair disclosure: Yours Truly had a shoulder-length mullet around that time.)

It's probably been a decade since the LB has drawn large crowds on "lesson nights," on Tuesdays and Sundays. Two-stepping was the best dance. It can be done for hours. Country waltzing was easy as 1-2-3, and east coast was my swing dance preference. And don't forget the line dances! The Bocephus, Charleston Bump, Rebel Strut, Cotton-Eyed Joe, and others. A floor full of folks havin' fun and lookin' silly. After a decade and a half, however, it's time to find a new Tuesday-night venue. (Yes, I wore boots, but rarely a hat. The one in the picture above was worn exactly twice.)

The Longbranch had high overhead, the paper reports. Their rent was $40,000 (!) a month. Bands had become more costly. And in 2006, they spent $300,000 and were closed for nine weeks for upgrades due to fire and building code violations. (Remember the uniformed folks on fire watch, some years back?) They even had at least one fire, in 1983. Small fire. See page 62 of Raleigh & Wake County Firefighting for a picture.

'Twas also a great place to meet, ah, people. How many found (or lost) one or more spouses under those glowing neon lights? Guess I'll save those particular stories for another forum. There was even a second Longbranch at one time, down south of Wilmington Street. Had a circular dance floor, or was that the competiting club that opened in the old Service Merchandise building? We all went there for a while, but ended up back at the Longbranch. We always ended up back at the Longbranch.

Great place, great memories.

worked there for many years!!! Lots of fond memories and fun times.
Mikey H. (Email) - 07/07/08 - 20:11

Had good times there as well. It appears that no one in the younger generation is dedicated to a club. They like hopping around to different ones. I went to City Limits for the first time a couple of months back, I liked it but it does not compare to Longbranch. Gonna miss the place. Someone will buy it and totally change everything about it.
Apex Batt Chief - 07/07/08 - 20:59

My wife and I both had memberships (we were not married at the time. Her’s was #3, and while I can’t remember mine, it turns out I got mine at about the same time). Yes, a lot of good times, great people, great memories…
DJ (Email) - 07/07/08 - 21:35

Not to worry, somebody will buy it and re-open it.
Beach (Email) - 07/07/08 - 21:50

Lots of Thursday nights post-YRAC training spent at the Branch. Will be missed…
Olson - 07/08/08 - 00:22

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