The only problem was Seger and the band sounded like a broken record. For two hours they rehearsed only one song: Ramblin Gamblin Man.
I remember after about the 25th time hearing that song looking over at Elsie and saying, if he plays that song one more time I am going to scream. I think it was driving the guys nuts in the band too. said Sivek. That night after the concert we were all sitting around and the band was giving Seger a hard time about it. But he was a perfectionist and it was new song and he wasnt going to perform any song unless it was perfect.
That song would become the title track of Segers debut album with Capital Records six months later. Seger would play the Tanz Haus a couple dozen times in the 1960s. Ah what Sivek would give to hear that song live again and in that same club. But Seger no longer performs live and the Tanz Haus gave way to Kmart 17 years ago.
For just about every teenager growing up in the area during the 1960s the Tanz Haus was Northern Michigans version of Detroits Grande Ballroom. It was a magical place created by two people who wanted a place for teenagers to be able to go to be teenagers, to be safe and have a good time. Elmer and Elsie Ogden seemed like characters out of a movie. You knew them and they you whether you walked in a hundred times or just once.
While the Tanz Haus has disappeared its memories have not. Traverse City residents Deni Whaley and Gary Keyes wanted to do something to honor not only the memory of the Tanz Haus but the Ogdens as well.
The two approached Doug Street at Streeters with the idea of a Tanz Haus reunion. Street thought the idea had merit and The Tanz Haus Revisited was launched. A celebration of the Tanz Haus, its music and memories will take place October 15 at Streeters Ground Zero Nightclub. The evening will feature several area musicians and invitations have gone to many who once played the club.
One musician who played regularly at the Tanz was drummer Denny Kline. His bands The Nightwalkers, The Rainmakers and Gross National Product were staples at the club that opened in 1965. Kline was the first to agree to play at the reunion and will serve as the evenings musical director.
I would never trade my teenage years with anyone from todays generation, said Kline. We had the Tanz Haus and they dont. It was a place we could go as teenagers and act like adults. Kids came from all over and you got to meet a lot of people. It was a great era. There was no reason to get into any trouble out there and no one really did.
A DOG NAMED TONKA
Sivek credits the relatively few problems the club had to Elmer.
He walked around with his big cigar and his German shepherd Tonka, and everyone just behaved, said Sivek. He appeared mean but he had a heart of gold. The Ogdens were a second set of parents for all who came through their doors. They looked after all of us and they helped us, we loved them and they loved us like we were their own kids.
Yeah we loved them, they created our version of Happy Days. The Tanz had that same atmosphere and they were our version of Mr. and Mrs. Cunningham, remember Richies parents were like parents to everyone on the show, said Kline. You know thousands of kids came through that place but they seem to know us all.
The Ogdens are retired and reside in Traverse City. Elmer recently suffered a stroke and they will be unable to attend the celebration but have given event organizers their blessing to celebrate the Tanz and its memories.
Street is creating a large banner with a photograph of the Tanz Haus and special message to the Ogdens that will be signed by all who attend that night. Sue Sivek and others will present it to the Ogdens later next week.
While the Ogdens were the heart of the Tanz Haus the music was its soul. The club was off the radar to attract bands like The Who, Cream and Led Zeppelin who performed at the Grande; instead it got the best that Michigan had to offer and that wasnt half shabby. Sivek kept a diary of the bands that came through.
AN EAGLE REMEMBERS
Besides those hot local bands Denny played in there was this band The Excels from Sault Ste. Marie that was pretty popular, said Sivek. They looked and sounded like the Beach Boys. They had this song Little Innocent Girl that climbed up to number six on WCCW weekly countdown.
Another guy who would later become famous that played the Tanz Haus a few times was Glenn Frey of The Eagles.
Yeah I remember the place, laughed Frey. One time I borrowed The Rationals van to get up there and I was flying through a small town (Manton) and lost control of the van on the curve and totaled the van and trashed the equipment I borrowed as well.
Sivek also remembers that night.
It was May 13, 1967 and I noted in my diary that his band The Mushrooms were not very good, they were mediocre at best, said Sivek. But I also noted that the singer (Glenn) was good and had talent. You could tell he was better than the rest. Though most of us were shocked when he made it big.
So will Frey make it in for the big reunion?
No, I will be in Australia, said Frey.
Oh yeah thats right, The Eagles are on their 5th Farewell Tour.
THE MADMAN & B.B.
Another Michigander who played the Tanz a few times was the Motor City Madman, Mr. Ted Nugent. Jan Staycer recalls one special night when Nugent performed.
All of a sudden BB King walked in, said Staycer. BB got up and jammed with Ted. It was unbelievable.
Another band that floated through during the 1960s was Popcorn Blizzard.
They were great and they were sort of based out of Saginaw, though their lead singer was from California. Marvin Lee Aday was his name but hes better known as Meatloaf.
But is doesnt end with Meatloaf. Reports are that the MC5 played there a few times under a different name. Then there was the time Terry Knight and The Pack came to the Tanz -- well, sort of.
Yeah, I think they were breaking up so just The Pack came, said Sivek. The Pack was Don Brewer and Mark Farner, the guys that started Grand Funk.
Sivek remembers Dick Wagner and Frost from Saginaw being another band that was popular.
There are so many I am glad I made notes, said Sivek. One of the best shows of all time there was in 1971 when New Heavenly Blue performed. The band was made of Dave Brubecks
son Chris and Peter Madcat Ruth. Yeah, and Cub Koda and Brownsville Station played there as well and eventually their song Smokin In The Boys Room, became a huge national hit.
Other popular bands included two from Lansing: Danny Hernandez and The Ones (drummer/vocalist Ronnie Hernandez lives and performs in Northern Michigan) and The Woolies.
Oh yeah, the Baldori Brothers loved playing up here. Their band The Woolies had a couple of hits and they played every summer from 1967-1970, said Sivek.
While the 1960s were magical times for The Tanz Haus, times do change and while the 1970s brought in great regional bands another force came into play: alcohol.
The Tanz Haus opened alcohol free and catered to 16 to 21 year-olds. But two things happened.
Well, people loved that place and soon those that were passed the age of 21 kept hanging out, said Kline. Then Michigan lowered the drinking age to 18 and everyone 18 started migrating to places in town that had booze. The Ogdens tried for as long as possible but they had to get a liquor license to stay open. The club was never the same after that.
While the Tanz Haus evolved in the 1970s into an adult nightclub its great musical tradition continued. Bands like Salem Withcraft, Lady Grace and The Rich Kidz along with others came through Tanz Haus drawing full houses and packed dance floors.
We loved it, it was like a vacation for us, said Stephan Adcock, former lead singer of The Rich Kidz. We played the Tanz for years it was a great place.
ROD STEWART CONNECTION
In the early 80s the club continued to thrive and attracted popular bar bands.
In 1983 Robyn Robbins, the former keyboardist for Bob Seger and Silver Bullet Band, started his own band and played the Tanz Haus. Robbins, who was living in Cheboygan, had convinced Pat Simmons (founder of the Doobie Brothers and their lead guitarist) to move to Cheboygan and join his band. The bass player Wally Stocker and drummer Tony Brock were both from The Babys. The show was unbelievable, but it was the groups only live performance. Later that week, Robbins said he was quitting the music business, Simmons rejoined the Doobies and the other two joined up with Rod Stewart.
As for Sivek, who was sort of a jack-of-all-trades for the Ogdens at The Tanz Hause, she moved to Lansing in the early 70s to work for the State of Michigan. She would return often on weekends to meet friends at the Tanz Haus. She sees this weekends reunion as an important opportunity to pay homage and rekindle old friendsips.
I think it will be better than a high school reunion, said Sivek. You went to the Tanz because you wanted to be there. You made friends there; people met their spouses there. I see this being an annual event. Organizers got off to a late start and several musicians already had other gigs who would like to be a part of this, so maybe next year.
PARENTS MET THERE
Street also sees it as an annual event. He was 14 when the Tanz Haus closed and never had a chance to go. His parents met there and he has heard several great stories about the place.
I am looking forward to hearing more stories, said Street. It was a wonderful place and I see this being an annual event. I also see this as a celebration of music. Three generations floated through the Tanz Haus during nearly 25 years and each had its own music.
Kline also wants to encourage people who attended similar clubs in the area to attend The Tanz Haus Revisted. He recalls The Platters in Cadillac; Pauls Place in Manistee; Club Ponytail in Harbor Springs; and The Teen Chalet in Gaylord as the hot spots in his day.
Anyone who has memorabilia such as concert posters and pictures from the Tanz Haus is encouraged to contact Street. The Tanz Haus Revisited on Friday October 15 is open to everyone whether you went to the Tanz Haus or not. Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 the day of the show.
Doors open at 7 p.m. and Denny Kline and his band The Ones will get things started at 8 p.m. with music from the early years at the Tanz. They will be followed by a collection of area musicians jamming tunes from the different generations. The evening will also offer an opportunity to share stories in between bands. Air personalities from WKLT will be on hand to host the evening. For additional information or tickets visit www.streetersonline.com or call (231) 932-1300.