"I heard the Rolling Stones played here for sure," says Saad Mattia, owner of the Royal Palace in El Cajon. The 750-capacity hall, built in 1932 and named the Bostonia Ballroom, recently became active again. Over the years, the venue has been known as the Red Mill, El Amigo, Club 911, and Marco Polo. Promoter Dave Raynes says 450 people came to see Buck-O-Nine, Sprung Monkey, and four other bands on September 3. A Hurricane Katrina relief benefit is set for this Sunday.
A number of El Cajon locals at the September 3 show said that Johnny Cash, Elvis, and the Rolling Stones have played the room. Eldonna Lay, author of an El Cajon book of history and curator of the Knox House Museum, says those Elvis/Cash rumors are not true.
"It was the first dancehall on the West Coast to have a floating dance floor," says Lay. "The floor was built on cork." She says the place hosted big-band orchestras in the '30s and '40s. "Smokey Rogers bought it in 1947. He brought in Western-swing bands. He had a music-and-dance show that was carried on Channel 8."
"Elvis showed up," says El Cajon mayor Mark Lewis. "I don't know if he performed there, but he showed up."
"I went there for a Halloween show in 1985," recalls singer Brian Francis of Solis, one of the bands to play on Sunday. "Someone got stabbed in the bathroom. I think the last time they had a show there was 1999."
Owner Mattias says there were no problems at the September 3 show. "We had plenty of security." This Sunday's benefit features Accident Experiment, Media Lab, FM Revolver, Creepy Creeps, Daredevil Jane, Wasting June, Three Against One, Solis, Blindheim, and Slewfoot; $6 admission, all ages. Those over 21 can drink in the back of the room; a rope separates them from the all-ages crowd. Call 619-441-0802 for more info.