In 1926 an athletic club/ recreation center was built in downtown Milwaukee sponsored by the Eagles Organization. The Eagles Ballroom and Athletic Club was a pretty hip place to see and be seen in the 20’s thru 50’s and provided patrons not only with a wonderful venue for dancing, but offered them the uses of a pool, boxing ring, bowling alley and much more. The athletic club closed in the 60’s and the space became a men’s shelter until 1980 when it began its reign as one of Milwaukee’s premier music venues.
The Rave (as it is now called) has evolved from the athletic club it once was, to a multi floor, multi venue, music menagerie. The outside of building has remained relatively unchanged with the original intricate stone carvings running along the top of the building and around all the tall recessed windows. A covered rooftop seating area and balcony provide music lovers (usually smokers and sweaty dancers) a place to escape and revel in the crisp night air.
The biggest venue within the rave is the Eagles Ballroom. The 25,000 square foot dance hall is the one venue that remains closest to its original state. The domed ceiling is gorgeous with intricate gold leaf edging and a mural in the center. Headliners sell out the ballroom on a regular basis and everyone from the Jonas Brothers to Bob Dylan have played here. While I have seen a lot of great shows at the Eagles Ballroom, I am no a fan of the acoustic, as they can be a bit echo-ey at times. The room can also be rented for special events and seats around 1,500 people.
The second largest venue (where I have spent many a night) is The Rave Hall. This smaller more modern hall has a more intimate feel and a VIP second floor wrap around balcony complete with its own bar. The Rave has 3 other venues… the Rave Bar, the Eagles Hall and the Rave Vibe Room. Don’t underestimate these smaller venues; the Rave Bar has GREAT acoustics and acts like Nirvana and Dave Matthews Band have played here.
I like the rave a lot and with a packed schedule of acts almost all the time, your sure to find something for your tastes at the rave.