History “We Have Never had a Rock and Roll Riot in Seattle Before, and I Think it Would Really be Fun.”
posted by August 10 at 16:07 PMon
In the City Council’s internal newsletter, Legis-Letter, clerk staff archivist Julie Kerssen regularly writes a “Who Knew? Archives Find of the Month” column.
This month, in what seems like a dig at Mayor Nickels’s nightlife crackdown, Kerssen rerports on the pending Rock and Roll Riot.
Who Knew? Archives Find of the Month
Several Clerk Files from 1957 contain letters from teenagers (all girls) protesting the city’s refusal to allow Elvis Presley the use of the Civic Auditorium, apparently over concern about potential unruly behavior by youth attending the concert. The arguments took several tacks, with some following the fairness angle. One girl wrote, “What did we teen-agers ever do to deserve this? Nothing!…Why have we teenagers of Seattle been refused when teen-agers all over the U.S. have not?” Many contended that Seattle’s youth were being condemned based on what those in other cities had done. An Elvis Fan Club member asked, “Are we the kids in the other towns? No we are not…Then why are you afraid we’ll start something?” Another girl attempted to reassure the Council that “so many kids want a chance to see him, that they wouldn’t let a riot start.”
Others defended the music itself. A girl from Renton argued, “The reason some people don’t like him is usually because he has a different way of singing, and people don’t like anything that’s different.” A Seattle teen wrote, “Elvis has a good ‘beat’ to his music. It’s different. It isn’t this drawn out mushy slow music.” Another argued, “Think of when the Charleston was the craze and the teen-agers were crazy over Sinatra!”
However, one girl conveyed a different message than she intended when she wrote, “I want Elvis Presley to come to Seattle because we have never had a Rock and Roll riot in Seattle before, and I think it would really be fun.