Historic Dreamland ballroom will reopen in Oak Bluffs

Dreamland on Oak Bluffs Avenue, circa 1910. Note the trolley on the right and the Civil War Monument that is now south of the Oak Bluffs police department. — Photo courtesy of Dreamland MV

The owners of Oak Bluffs’ historic Dreamland building have achieved their plan to resurrect its storied past. The 5,300-square-foot Dreamland ballroom is scheduled to open with a 112th birthday party on Friday, July 13.

The ballroom is located on the second floor, above The Martha’s Vineyard Chowder Company on Oak Bluffs Avenue across from the Flying Horses Carousel. JB Blau and Alex Nagi, co-owners of the MV Chowder Company will manage the space for owners Mark and Michael Wallace.

Mr. Blau said the space, one of the Island’s largest private venues, can accommodate up to 500 people and will be available year round for community and private functions that include music events, art shows, weddings, and theater.

Mr. Blau said Island musician and Dreamland entertainment director and talent buyer Phil daRosa has hired four bands, DCLA (Dukes County Love Affair), 2nd Power, Island Thunder, and The Grateful Dread for the birthday bash.

Many dreams

Built at the turn of the last century, the building has gone through many incarnations. It was once a dance hall, an automobile repair garage, a roller rink, a movie theater, a pool hall, a motorcycle rental and home to the restaurants, Balance, the Ocean Club, and Danny Quinn’s.

The large, second floor space was last used by Ryan Family Amusements, a Cape-based company, as the Dreamland Game Room. The game room closed in 2005 and moved next to the Atlantic Connection Restaurant on Circuit Avenue in 2006, taking over the space that was once the Atlantic Connection Nightclub.

The Ryans sold the Dreamland building to Mark and Michael Wallace in 2008. Oak Bluffs selectman approved the Wallaces’ plan to convert the space into a ballroom in 2009. It took almost three years to meet the demands of the town and neighboring businesses, and the conditions set by the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, which included soundproofing, before they could open with live music, Mr. Blau said.

In a press release, the owners touted the changes. “We’re proud of the newly renovated space with all modern elements of sound, comfort, and amenities, while at the same time giving homage and gratitude to its rich past of elegance and splendor,” they wrote.

The front windows provide sweeping views of Oak Bluffs. The interior space includes modular bars and lounges to encourage an intimate feel. Mr. Blau said he thinks the renovated space will bring more people to Oak Bluffs year round, a potential benefit for other Oak Bluffs businesses.

“We hope to fill the void left by the Atlantic Connection, Nectar’s and The Hot Tin Roof in the summer,” said Mr. Blau, who also owns Sharky’s Cantina. “There is a reason they are no longer around. We hope that by being primarily a venue for weddings, birthday parties, fundraisers and other community events during the off-season that we can make this work.”

A summer schedule of popular musical groups from off Island as well as local bands and performers is already taking shape. Weekly comedy shows will begin July 29. Entrain’s CD release show will be on July 20, Erich Luening & Friends will play on July 27.

Tuba Skinny, a band that takes its listeners back in time to the traditional jazz and old blues music of the 1920s and 30s and the local band King Cake and The Baby are scheduled to play August 25.

Mr. Blau said that Dreamland will be one of the venues used by the Martha’s Vineyard Jazz Festival in August. Jazz pianist Jason Moran and his group, The Bandwagon, is scheduled to play on August 6.

“I would like to bring in dinner theater at some point,” Mr. Blau said. “It is something that has never been tried here before. It is a great space for theater as well as for music and movies.”

For more information, go to dreamlandmv.com.