Remembering Mr. Lucky’s

If you were a lucky teenager in Minneapolis in the mid-’60s, you went to Mr. Lucky’s teen dance hall at Lake and Nicollet.
Back in the day, a trip to Mr. Lucky’s meant you were a pretty lucky teen.

Mr. Lucky’s opened in December 1962 as the only local nightclub devoted exclusively to teenagers.  As the Twin Cities music scene grew, it was the place for the local bands to play and the kids to dance. Groups such as the Chancellors, Underbeats, Accents, Gregory Dee and the Avanties—all the bands played at Mr. Lucky’s.  

Not that there wasn’t some trouble. In 1964 some member of the community accused the club and its teen patrons of such offenses as: spiking drinks, cramming 1,200 bodies into a room rated for 500, popping pep pills or “goof balls,” harboring known narcotics users and fighting.

One particular incident cited by police was vandalism of a “nearby beauty salon, which suffered $500 damage to the interior one dance night in December when vandals broke in and threw bottles of hair rinse and shampoo on the ceiling and walls.” The owner insisted the club was safe, as it was supervised by three off-duty policemen, a half-dozen waiters from the University of Minnesota, check room operators and a manager. Even Minneapolis mayor Arthur Naftalin and his wife paid a visit to the club on a Saturday night and found nothing improper, but “one visit was no basis for an overall evaluation.”  The club survived and became more popular than ever.
Mr. Lucky’s was renamed the New City Opera House, advertised as “The Upper Midwest’s only Psychedelic House of Rock” and “Minnesota’s Own Electric Circus.” It 1968 it was the site of a memorable appearance by Cream, who were apparently quite upset when they found out it wasn’t a real opera house.

The club’s popularity waned as the music scene changed. The building was torn down and the corner reconfigured, wiping out all trace of Mr. Lucky’s. But it remains a vivid memory for the thousands of former teens who danced the night away.

Jeanne Andersen is secretary of the board of the St. Louis Park Historical Society. Learn more about the city’s history at the website here.