Avalon Ballroom

Avalon Ballroom
The Avalon Ballroom

The Avalon Ballroom

The Avalon Ballroom is a music venue in the Polk Gulch neighborhood of San Francisco, California at 1268 Sutter Street, on the north side, one building east of the corner of Van Ness Avenue. The space operated from 1966 to 1968, and reopened in 2003. Large events include Pagan Fest USA that is held in May.

The building that housed the Avalon Ballroom was built in 1911 and was originally called the Colin Traver Academy of Dance. The Avalon was founded by Robert E. Cohen, impresario Chet Helms and his music production company, Family Dog Productions, which had offices on Van Ness.

In the 1960s at the Avalon, two bands typically performed two sets during the evening beginning at about nine o'clock. Many local bands, such as Quicksilver Messenger Service and the Steve Miller Band, served as backup bands, as did the early Moby Grape and headliners such as the 13th Floor Elevators, the Butterfield Blues Band, and Big Brother and the Holding Company, which Helms organized around singer and performer Janis Joplin in spring 1966. Joplin and Big Brother performed in June 1967 on several occasions.

Bands were frequently booked to perform at the Avalon on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Extraordinary posters advertising each event were produced by psychedelic artists such as Rick Griffin, Stanley Mouse, Alton Kelly and Victor Moscoso.