AVALON BALLROOM - 04/15/1967


Venue Address: 1268 Sutter St. - San Francisco, CA 
Promotion: Chet Helms/The Family Dog Presents
Event: In Concert

Also Performing:
The Steve Miller Band
Aji Baba's Band

Break On Through
The End

Recordings / Film:
Professional/Stage Recording


Reviews / Info:
-8:30pm scheduled start time.
-Promotional artwork by Victor Moscoso (Poster; Handbill; Ticket)
-Lights by 'North American Ibis Alchemical Co.'
-A recording from the Avalon Ballroom may be from this date or the last.
-The Doors return to the Avalon Ballroom in May.

"Would you like to go to San Francisco with me? There's an anti-war march this weekend." The strange, pudgy-cheeked girl in the pea coat asked, in an intense tone of overwhelming importance and commitment.

I was fumbling my way through junior college - trying hard to avoid the military draft. I'd never been invited to an anti-war march before. Yet, it wasn't uncommon in the 60's for students to invite complete strangers along on crazy trips to share rides and expenses. Many colleges even sponsored 'ride boards' that gave departure dates of students looking for companionship or help with gas money. Back then, everyone seemed to be on the move - even if we didn't know where we were going.

For me, San Francisco was a magical place that I heard of only through rumor. Friends, or friends of friends, would return to our small, conservative southern California community with their stories of the Haight-Ashbury, flower children, or Ken Kesey's merry pranksters and acid tests. Escaping to San Francisco could offer a temporary relief from my less-than-perfect home life, and an opportunity to witness firsthand the peace and love movement that was sweeping the nation. The idea was liberating. San Francisco was the heart and soul of the anti-war, pro-peace movement and I wanted to be a part of it. I'd heard of the slogan 'Free Love.' Since I had recently turned 19, I figured it was time to check out what it was all about.

So, with $40 in my pocket and a handful of my mom's diet pills - my contribution to the drive, I took off in a baby blue 1963 Volkswagen bug with two people I didn't know: the girl in the pea coat and a red-haired, goateed guy I assumed was her boyfriend.

We drove up the coast, stomping our feet to the music on the radio, talking freely, and getting acquainted. I don't remember what we talked about, but I do remember the conversation was enthusiastic and fast. The diet pills gave us a rush. Everything felt fantasic. For a few hours, in my euphoria, I forgot about the looming military draft and the domestic disharmony I'd left back home. Everything was great. Getting away felt liberating as the wind blowing through the wing vents of the '63 VW!

Night was falling when the rally ended. Feeling totally hyped on the love and anti-war experience, we decided to go to the Avalon Ballroom. The Avalon was an old Victorian ballroom on the corner of Sutter and Van Ness. It was managed by a group of hippies known as 'The Family Dog'. The Avalon was the hippie's answer to Bill Graham's famous Fillmore. While the Fillmore had a slick leatheresque tuck-and-roll Tijuana-type interior, the Avalon had the classic decor of an authentic Victorian Ballroom.

In our stoned search for the Avalon, we picked up a pair of hitch hikers. They not only gave showed us how to get there, but offered up a little mixing bowl and invited us to sample its contents. "A little dab will do you," they joked, sounding like a 1950ís Brylcreem hair cream commercial. The mixture looked like cookie dough but tasted strange. They laughed and explained that they made it by cutting LSD with mother's milk. As the mixture started taking affect, I wondered, "Does my breath smell like mother's milk?" or "Who are the mothers that provided the milk?" Visions of mothers donating their milk for a drug mix kept running comically through our heads the rest of the night, causing eruptions of spontaneous laughter.

Waiting in line to pay for my entrance into the Avalon Ballroom, I felt like a kid waiting for an 'E-ticket' ride at Disneyland. Throughout the line improvised comedy happened spontaneously, sending us into spasms of laughter. The evening turned magical and dreamlike.

When The Doors came on stage, and played 'Break on Through' someone grabbed my hand and yanked me out onto the dance floor. I was gone, totally immersed in the rhythm, dancing like an Indian amongst my tribesmen whose anti-war paint glowed florescent in the black light. A group of dancers pulled us into a snake dance that looped and wound its way around through the room like an Indian Pow-Wow. Everyone danced, even to The Doors 'The End', which stretched on for an eternity. Jim Morrison was singing with his back to the crowd. Maybe he didn't like the squiggly lights, or maybe he had a case of the giggles, too, but he faced away from us and sang, his haunting voice filling the room. I'd never heard a song like 'The End' before. It seemed to go on forever, yet it had a strange and exotic appeal. As Morrison sang "Ride the snake, to the lake, the ancient lake," the light show produced images of an undulating lake moving up and down to the music, and we in the snake dance rode our way to the lake. We connected fully with the strange music as we traveled through time and space - riding 'to the lake, the ancient lake...'"

Bill Grote
Vista, CA
Copyright © 2011 Bill Grote

A Special Thanks to Bill Grote for providing his review of the concert to MildEquator.com!



Avalon Ballroom April 1967 - Type Ad
Contributed By: RFritts


Avalon Ballroom - Handbill
Contributed By: FireHeart2021


Contributed by: BallroomDays67