By far, my most popular blog post has been "What's the Deal with the Rave?"
Despite the post being published in February, it still gets multiple hits a day. I guess this means lots of us are curious about the spook-tacular nature of this venue.
I did some research and uncovered a few things- and yet, there are still more questions than answers on this mysterious building. There are many stories associated with The Rave that you likely have heard- for example the story of the building being used as a shelter for the homeless that was managed by a brutal overseer whose angry energy roughly shoves the unwitting visitor to the theater. Or all of the tales of the bands of little children roaming the halls who, depending on the story are either trapped and tormented, or malevolent and dangerous. Yet, history does not shed light on the whos or whys of these reports. No shelter manager lost his life on the grounds. No tragedy including multiple children has been known to happen on the grounds. If these spirits do linger here, who are they and why do they choose The Rave? I cannot answer those questions, but I did tackle a few of the common stories. The below excerpt is a portion of a longer piece written for the History Press. Enjoy! And keep those questions and stories coming!
Let’s take a look at two of the often told tales about this popular venue:
Rumor: Buddy Holly haunts The Rave
Buddy Holly did kick off his final tour, known as Winter Dance Party, in what was then known as George Devine’s Million Dollar Ballroom on January 23, 1959. The musicians then played eight additional shows in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa before their last show in Clear Lake, IA on February 2, 1959. After several brutal days on the road during an exceptionally cold winter, show headliners Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson boarded a chartered plane in Iowa to fly to their next show in Moorehead, MN, eager to avoid the ice slicked roads, subzero temperatures and miserable conditions on the often broken tour bus. The decision was fateful, as the plane crashed and the event has been known ever after as “the day the music died.”
So, does Buddy Holly still roam the halls of the Rave? Who knows, but it seems unlikely he would return to the start of the most miserable tour which he had ever played.
Rumor: There is the ghost of a young girl in the pool area
The pool, long ago drained and locked away is at the heart of many stories that surround the building. Crafty trespassers have managed to get into the off limits area and created scores of YouTube films of their adventures. Those who have entered the area have reported feeling the presence of a young girl, seeing orbs and even feeling someone trying to hold their hand. The videos, filmed in the dark and often inside the emptied pool, have a spooky aura and it often appears the ghost seekers on camera are genuinely afraid.
The pool was the location of a drowning. 15 year old Francis Wren drown in the pool on September 10, 1927 at around 3:30 PM while swimming with some high school friends. The boy slipped beneath the water unnoticed and was discovered unresponsive under 9.5 feet of water. The boy was dead before he could be taken from the pool and was soon laid to rest at Holy Cross Cemetery on September 13. Tragically, the boy’s heart-broken mother soon joined him at Holy Cross; she died several weeks after youngest son and was buried next to him.
Visitors to The Rave have also reported hearing the sounds of unseen children playing. Some have reported seeing the apparition of a young girl in the area near the coat room. After hours janitorial crews have spotted groups of ghostly children. In contrast to these happy entities, there have been reports of hearing a single child crying in the empty venue. Most disturbingly, there have been a number of reports of items being thrown from the roof of the building. When this is reported to security and investigated, there is no one ever found on the roof.
Today, The Rave is both one of Milwaukee’s favorite concert venues and favorite location to experience spine-tingling thrills, or at least seek them out. It’s possible your next concert there might include a paranormal experience. Stranger things have happened, particularly at The Rave.