Desoda's Night opened late in 1987 and remained opened into the late 1990s.  Steve Penick and John Decker from the Stearns History Museum and local historian Jim Grabinski joined me on WJON.  Grabinski says an ownership group from Fargo saw a need for a night club geared toward people away from the downtown college crowd.

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The club was located in Midtown Square Mall located at 3333 Division Street.  The Stearns History Museum had this to say about DeSoda's:

Its 1950’s and 60’s theme music focused on the 25-45 age crowd where dancing and gimmick nights were featured as a different kind of fun. A black and white checkered floor, cut-out cars, and a soda fountain theme added to the club’s atmosphere.

Bar games on Wednesday night were also a celebrated feature, drawing big crowds. Gary Barby, general manager of the club, was instrumental in organizing the concept. Bungee-jumping pole game and Velcro suit races were some of the contests.

The club also offered 2-person human bowling.  It was described the following way:

Teams needed two participants to play. One person would be strapped in a metal chair with safety gear inside a round cage that weighed about 200 pounds. The other team member would be the bowler, who rolled their partner along a carpeted lane at six pins. There would be three frames with a 54 as the top score. Winners each night received prizes with a chance for the grand prize later in the tournament. Sound fun?

Steve Penick says DeSoda's had weeknight specials and was known for dancing.  He says they have birthday specials but people generally went there to dance. Jim Grabinski says at one time they have beer cases lined up directing customers to the rest of the bar.  Penick says the music was 50s, 60s, 70s and some 80s.

If you'd like to listen to my conversation with Steve, John and Jim it is available below.




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