In Joni Mitchell’s hit song “Big Yellow Taxi,” she sings the iconic lyrics, “they paved paradise and put up a parking lot.” These two lines became the story of a building with one of the richest histories in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Built in 1922, the Covey-Ballard Motor Company stood between 400 and 500 South on Main Street in downtown Salt Lake City until 1931, when it was transformed into the Coconut Grove. According to Lagoon history, the ballroom was advertised as the largest in the United States. Sometime during the 1940s, the Coconut Grove was changed to the Rainbow Ballroom. Jerry Jones assumed ownership in 1946 and renamed it Rainbow Randevu. Its popularity continued as the community continued to fill the hall. In 1958 Lagoon bought and named it Danceland. A few years later, the company settled on its final name, The Terrace. Lagoon History shares that a final New Year’s Eve party was thrown in 1981 before The Terrace permanently closed. In August 1987 a fire demolished the building and “they paved paradise and put up a parking lot.” (Braden)
Every city has certain places that give them their own identity. Between 1931 and 1981, Salt Lake City had a hotspot that almost every young adult would flock to. Many knew this venue as the Coconut Grove, others as the Rainbow Ballroom, Rainbow Randevu, Danceland, The Terrace, or even The Terrace Ballroom. In the late 1950s Budge and Jeannene Hyde referred to it as the Rainbow, saying in an interview that they congregated there every Saturday night with groups of friends. With World War II recently concluded and political unrest sweeping the world, it was a refuge from reality.
The venue had a life where the musical notes of Nat (King) Cole and Led Zeppelin, among so many other incredible musicians, seeped into its walls and no one wanted to miss the chance to be there. (“Danceland Sets Cole”) The Rainbow felt the vibrations of twirling and dancing to Andy Kirk and his Clouds of Joy not long after the Salt Lake Telegram announced in February 1941 that they were coming all the way from New York. Advertisements were scattered through the Utah Chronicle to inform students what big names were coming, just like the one in March 1941 telling how Carl Ravazza was to play at the Randevu.
In May 1948, The Salt Lake Telegram reported the fire that turned Rainbow Randevu “to a mass of twisted steel and charred wood” in the middle of the night. (Raff) Firemen searched, but only found a cigarette as the reason only four walls of the Rainbow were left standing. Covered by insurance, a seemingly positive Jerry Jones wanted to rebuild “as soon as possible.” The Rainbow would reopen to renewed popularity.
After staving off The Terrace lease from Little America Corp, The Deseret News reported in December 1981 of the final three events before the hall closed indefinitely. A concert by The David LaFlemme Band took place, along with the regular Tuesday night dance and a last New Year’s Eve party. Lots of work was needed to meet city fire and public safety codes, and a Little America spokesman announced the hall would remain unused until a use was decided (An Era Ends).
Already partially torn down, The Terrace couldn’t disappear without a bang. In August 1987, The Deseret News wrote how it took 30 minutes for a fire to demolish a building that was so beloved by a community forever.
Joni Mitchell never performed at The Terrace, but the hall has an undeniable connection to her song “Big Yellow Taxi.” The building with such a rich history that saw so much and could give a look into the lives of several generations is now a parking lot. The Rainbow Randevu left an unforgettable stamp on those who were able to experience its magic and it’s seen within articles written in newspapers.
Carley Longhurst is a senior at The University of Utah, majoring in communication with an emphasis in journalism. She will be graduating in the spring of 2019.
“Randevu Bills Kirk Group,” Salt Lake Telegram, February 28, 1941, 20.
Advertisement for Jerry Jones Rainbow, Utah Chronicle, March 6, 1941, 5.
Collin Raff, “Fire Razes Rainbow Randevu,” Salt Lake Telegram, May 22, 1948, 1.
“Danceland Sets Cole,” Deseret News, February 12, 1959, 13.
“An Era Ends as S.L.’s Premier Dance Hall Closes,” Deseret News, December 26, 1981, 6A.
Pierce, Scott D. and Twila Van Leer, “Flames Become Last Dancers at the Terrace,” Deseret News, August 6, 1987, 35.
Interview with Budge and Jeannene Hyde, December 1, 2018, author’s collection.
Smart, Christopher. “Whatever Happened to … The Terrace Ballroom?” The Salt Lake Tribune, March 12, 2015.
Braden [no last name], “The Terrace,” Lagoon History Project.
Williams, Carter. “Looking Back at Utah Music and Dance Venues That No Longer Exist,” KSL.com, September 15, 2016.
McCormick, John S. The Gathering Place: An Illustrated History of Salt Lake City. Salt Lake City, UT: Signature Books, 2000.