Century of memories: Historic dance hall on eBay more than a building

Central Texas dance hall for sale on eBay has rich history

SWISS ALP, TEXAS - The Swiss Alp Dance Hall, just outside of Shulenburg is up for sale on eBay.

As of Friday afternoon, the bid is up to almost $100,000.

KVUE spoke to several people who grew up going to the dance hall. They said it’s a lot more than a building for sale -- it’s almost a century of memories.

"People wanted a place to go socialize, and this was the place,” said Joe Schindler.

Schindler started going to the dance hall as a teenager.

"That's what we had to do on Saturday nights, that was it," said Schindler.

Now, he’s helping to sell it.

"eBay just seemed like a way to get numerous people looking at it, bidding on it, and I have to say the first few days here, it's doing very well,” said Schindler.

It’s a place that holds a lot of memories for a lot of people.

"I remember getting up the courage to ask one of my particular classmates from Schulenburg to dance, and that was my first dance area right there,” said Gary McKee, who is the advisor to the Texas Dance Hall Preservation and Fayette County’s Historical Commission Vice President. "Two years ago I met my girlfriend, Lauren, who’s working here right now."

He's danced there nearly all his life.

"Officially when I was 16 -- the magic age, you know,” said McKee. "Dance hall has changed very little.”

"Swiss Alp was designed for dancing,” said Schindler.

"A ton of dancing, it was an awesome way to grow up,” said Jerlyn Tietjen Schindler, whose family owned the hall for decades. "It was my heart and soul -- it was really special. Mom and dad kind of put their whole lives into it."

From the social gatherings, she created a state-wide group of friends.

"There were teens from like every little town you could imagine,” said Schindler.

Schindler recalls the packed house.

"There would be 400, 500 people in this place inside, then all of the other folks around the outside there, looking in the windows, listening to the music, just having fun,” said Schindler

They even hosted Tietjen Schindler’s senior prom.

"That's been what 50 years since I was out here dancing," said Schindler. "In our generation, it was always a place where kids could meet and have good clean fun."

It was also a place she learned a good work ethic.

"We had to always sweep the hall, pick up cans," said Schindler. "I respect that we learned how to work -- I respect all that -- that we had to help in the store, we had to help out here.”

"Country and western, rock and roll, I mean it was all here,” said Schindler.

Along with the dancing comes a variety of bands.

"One of the first things you'll notice here is the photos of all the entertainers that have played here over the years. Just an unbelievable list of entertainers that have played,” Schindler said.

Schindler said he’s asked many of these big name artists why they continue to play in 500-person dance halls, when they could be selling thousands of tickets.

“They'll all tell you the same answer: You've got to give back to where you came from," Schindler said. "These guys all started in these dance halls, and they don't forget it, and they love coming here."

"Willie Nelson and Johnny Winter played here,"  Schindler said.

"This hall's been through several renovations as you can kind of see the type of lumber,” McKee said as he showed KVUE a close up of the structure.

The hall started as a dance platform when the German and Czech settled there in the late 1800s. By the 1950s there were more than 60 dance halls in the county.

Now, there are fewer than a dozen.

"The dance crowd started dwindling and the dance hall started shutting down," McKee said.

He attributes part of that to the invention of air conditioning.

But at Swiss Alp, even though there’s no AC, they still host weekly dances for a new generation.

"That's pretty cool to see my grandson coming, and granddaughter,” said Schindler.

"It's great to see the young people still coming out," said Schindler. "It gives opportunities for people to come together."

And for many, that’s created a life-long romance.

“We know of numerous occasions where someone got engaged in the dance hall, or in the parking lot, and came back for their wedding here because they met here," said Schindler.

And for many of the young at heart, they’re still glad to come out when they can.

"They turn back into the teenagers that they were, you'll see bank presidents or chairmans out there dancing like crazy doing the twist,” McKee said.

"It means a ton to everybody around here,”  Schindler said.

So many hope new owners will carry on the old traditions.

"It’s the real deal, this is a real Texas dance hall,” McKee said. "If they're interesting whatsoever in dancing -- keeping the era of country and western and polka dancing alive to frequent halls such as this -- so it can stay alive. It’s just a memorial to four generations now of people."

"I'm hoping someone will purchase it and keep it going, because it's such a huge chunk of history,” Schindler said.

The hall will be on eBay until July 5.

© 2017 KVUE-TV


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