Popular Music at the Pause circa 1977

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For many students at St. Olaf, the Pause is a hub for campus activities and a source of music on weekends (I may be biased as an employee…).  Obviously the genres of popular music have changed, but so has the culture and environment of the room in which we choose to listen to music.  Searching through old Mess articles show just how differently students spend their free time.

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Article about the opening of the New Pause 1977


Currently, the Pause is a big concrete box of sharp angles and harsh corners.  It just screams “nightclub,” in its vibe, and as every tour guide can tell you, it was modeled after the Minneapolis venue, First Avenue.  Events in the space owe their success to the intelligent lights that spin, strobes placed behind the drum risers, huge powerful subwoofers, black lights illuminating the pit, and blinder lights that yes, blind the audience.  In short, very flashy lights and loud sound are used best with DJs and for large dramatic concerts–the recent Betty Who, Matt and Kim, or Hoodie Allen.

But the old Pause was completely different.  Located in the basement of Ytterboe, it was nicknamed a “Hobbit Hole” due to its small entrance and hidden feel.  Articles written when the old Pause was the new Pause say that “the atmosphere of the new Pause is still quite Bohemian” (S. Crumb).  Gold candles and a dark wood stage contributed to the coffeehouse vibe–which it indeed was.  No pizza was served, but coffee, cheese and crackers, and yogurt (?!?).  Performances consisted of many folk groups and students covering folk songs.  Hall and Oates, Seal and Crofts, Joan Baez, Loggins and Messina, Cat Stevens–artists who based most of their music around a voice and a guitar, all singer/songwritters.  The folk revival was in full swing.

Kenny Loggins, House at Pooh Corner

Seals and Crofts, Prelude / Windflowers

As a result, Mess articles describe performances in the Pause as “mellow” and “smooth.”  Students looked for more intellectual, introspective entertainment, and the venue responded to them.  Popular music can totally define architecture and design of a space. Screen Shot 2015-04-21 at 11.17.48 PM Sources:

Muss, Solveig, “Mellow on Friday at the Pause.” From The Manitou Messenger:  Volume 093, Issue 007, 08 Nov, 1979.  Accessed 4/21/15.  https://contentdm.stolaf.edu/cdm4/document.php?CISOROOT=/mess&CISOPTR=17652&REC=20

S. Crumb, “Grand Opening of New Lion’s Pause.”  From The Manitou Messenger:  Volume 091, Issue 003, 29 Sept. 1977.  Accessed 4/21/15.