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Rafters

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LOCATION

Saratoga Lake, New York

CLUB DETAILS

Owners:
Greg Wrobel

DJs:
Tom Lewis

The Rafters, which was open as far back as 1976, was a lengendary club located on Saratoga Lake that was ahead of its time- first place I know of that used lasers that were required to be operated by a licensed operator.

(above info originally provided by DiscoMusic.com member, JIMspins)

Photos below submitted by Jim Izzo
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Photo of Rafters bumper sticker saying "I'd rather be at Rafter - Kaydeross Park and Saratoga" sent in by Jim Izzo.
Bumper sticker for the Rafters

Photo below from Sig Wynne-Evans.
Description: At the Rafters Saratoga Springs, NY circa 1981. John Wynne-Evans and me. He had lots of nicknames.


Please note that in the interest of fairness, the names of DJs and staff are listed in alphabetical order.


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Added by Bernard Lopez


 

Your Comments

Norm Gundersen |

The Rafters was, by far, the best dance club on the planet! I went to college at Clarkson and we made the 3-1/2 hour drive down many times between 1976 and 1980 in all kinds of weather to go to the Rafters - and for many years beyond, I continued to visit whenever I could while covering the Upstate NY territory in sales. I spent my 18th birthday there with a bunch of college friends who we had known for a whole 2 weeks! I still know most of those guys today, and I also still have the clear plastic cups that everyone signed that night (along with the drink stirrers that we used to count the drinks we had). A few things I remember: the laser lights on the lake, the patio, the "rafters" second floor, the spiral staircase in the center of the main dance floor, the two story silo dance floor with translucent floor on second level (with lights in it), the motorcycles hanging from the ceiling, the $2.00 cover, did I mention the patio, the game room, the fireplace, the ultimate ahead of its time sound system, the amazing light shows, the smoke on the main dance floor, the lights in the floor on the main dance floor, the dark dance room with all the hanging plants, and the best people ever as employees and customers! There will never be another Rafters. It was an incredible place! And yes, I had a "Meet Me Under the Rafters" bumper sticker. After it was sold (I think to the condo developers), I remember seeing the closed overgrown building that I think was supposed to become the clubhouse for the condos (they never did use it for that) - but eventually someone must have figured out they could make more money building condos on the site of the building......and then for years, the chimney was the only thing left standing before the last of the condos were finally built on the site. It was certainly a sad day when the Rafters closed. It will always be greatly missed and will have the very best of memories!

marybeth howenstein knoblauch |

I live in North Carolina now and work with a guy that DJ there sometimes. We got talking about music places and I was saying how my friends and I would drive from Sch'dy up to this great place in Saratoga. Could not remember the name at all. Then he said Rafters and we could not stop talking about great times we had there. My friend and I even had to stop every 30 minutes, one time, to fill her car with oil, you know that was back in the day. But that did not stop us:)))
Great , great memories

Jim Harvey (JIMspins) |

I am quite certain there was a bumper sticker that pre-dated the one in the photo that read "Meet Me Under THE RAFTERS"....anyone else remember that?

Maitland |

'Just had to chime in when I stumbled across this site! If you were there then you know and there is nothing more I can add! I've been to many of "the best" clubs and none of them beat The Rafters when it was hot! The staff/management, the building, the setting; I could go on and never do it justice! I'll go out on a limb here and "represent" for the Skidmore Crew and just say THANKS! for an incredible experience! KUMONIWANALAYA! Hi to Bobbie! Maitland

doug |

very very cool place...went there many times....fought there....had a bacholor party there,mine,,,,,,and danced there alot.smoke out of the floor....amazing light.,cool disco place of the 80s......alot of great times lost when it was closed.i still live here....nothing else like it around.nothing.......all condos and rich jerks from the city ruined saratoga along with greed and money.......

Cliff Hanger |

...Well, in any event, A big attraction was lost and the money that this place could have pulled in up to this day would have been phenomenal. It's places like these that drew the people to Saratoga,... it's what they wanted to see and do. There is nothing, now. Saratoga, to me, is like a colony of ants on display,...professional in what they do,...and I use that term loosely, too.

tom lewis |

Jim Harvey is right. Greg Wrobel's (who owned the Rafters) parents owned 50% of the property that The Rafters was on. Assemblyman Bobby D'Andrea owned the other 50%. They had worked quite hard for decades and couldn't pass up the amount of money they were offered for the land. The town Houses they built are still there and being lived in.

Jim Harvey (JIMspins) |

Others closer to the situation can tell you better than I, but the building was sold as part of a condo complex proposal - it must have been a lucrative offer for the owner to sell - I think it would still be around today had that not happened -

Cliff Hanger |

I vaguely remember The Rafters but, my mother used to go there in the mid to late 70's. And her and her friends said IT was the Banging Hot Spot. My question is, Can anybody clue me as to why it was closed ? From all of the people that I've talked to, there were sad and happy faces but, not one distasteful remark came from their mouths. I would love to know the reason why this business has closed it's doors when they were making all of that money ? I would think that this place would still be open because of the Track Season and Casino. This place, obviously, was the Main Attraction. Would love to know more of it's history.

Denise |

OMG SO MISS THIS PLACE . GREW up attending the dance contest w Maria Fernandez It was underage drinking at its best ! Kayderosa park was awesome too I still reside in Saratoga Springs us natives still talk about the Rafters all the time definitely an original !

Ken Dillon |

My freinds and I had many great times at the Rafters. Truly a one of a kind place. Truly the best club I have ever been to.

April Tschan |

Was a racetracker from NY, spent my summers there. Been to studio 54, couldnt hold a candle to the atmosphere of the rafters--Everybody from Hot walkers to jockeys, agents,owners,all together. Danced many nights away there. SO nice to see the pictures. Thank you-One of my favorite memories of my youth, and by far the best club I have ever been to, bar none!!

Jack Neary |

Met a pretty young thing there on June 24th, 1978. Got married a year later, Nancy and I still together with three adult kids and three grandkids.

Sucks that it's all ugly condo now.

I was a student at Skidmore and I went to the Rafters all the time. Wonderful memories. Great friends. Awesome bouncers who made sure that I was headed home safely and THE BEST fog machine. I miss it. I wish the RAFTERS was still around. I'd love to |

Please join the Rafters Club on Facebook to stay connected. Post your pictures too!

"Earl The Pearl" |

Before i moved to florida in 1980, i loved thursday nights at the Rafters, there was always great music and many hot chicks dancing all night until closing ! I alway ran into some people i knew and always met some new friends back in those good old days ! We always drove up there on thursday night and saturday nights sometimes, the only other place that we went to was sneaky pete's in latham but the rafters was my favorite place back in the disco days ! Also the Castillion Lounge once in a while ! Gold Bless the Rafters fun times !

Marlene |

I would drive to Saratoga from Montreal with my two girlfriends on week-ends just to go to the Rafters. We knew some people in the early 80's that went to Concordia Univ but lived in the Saratoga area. What a fantastic place.
Hung out around the door with Billy and Tony or on the steps to the DJ booth. I always think of the place when I smell fog machine smoke. It was truly one of the best of it's kind.

scott sees |

As great as the rafters was what other toga bars did we get buzzed at ? T&l barclays desperate annies to name a few . Good times people good times

Nick M |

I certainly do remember The Rafters, my first and favorite dance club... Yes Every Saturday Night (and sometimes Wednesday nights as well) I would be there, the huge dance floor with the fog lights and the packed dance floor. Not like today's clubs where it's only drinking, fighting and bouncers getting off on throwing everyone out first chance they get. The Rafers was fun, lots of dancing and meeting nice people. I recall the month it closed, the fun died, March 1987. There were no other clubs like it, the only ones that came close were Sneaky Pete's of Latham until that burned down under mysterious circumstances then the Sneaky Pete's of Toga Town in the old Grand Union building, they came close. The later closing up in 1999 and moving to Albany. That one also closing up a few years back. The Rafters was a class act people actually came here NOT to fight or drink but to actually dance and meet nice people and get a look at the lake from the deck outside the bar. Gorgeous place I miss it so much, it may have closed in 1987 but I still missed it today. Yes where do the years go. Can you believe its been 26 years, 2 months now?? Theres no clubs around now like it. The clubs we have no are just excuses to go get drunk and kicked out for fighting thats all. We salute The Rafters and the fun we all had there. The old bumper sticker...'Meet Me Under The Rafters' that was golden.

Mark - S Troy |

Remember the summer night in 1975 when my older btother brought me there. Every other establishment since has been a step dow. It was worth the drive when my partners in crime and I headed up the much less populated North Way back then.

Jill Davidson |

I think the Rafters may be older than 1976. I went there several friends the summer I graduated high school, and that was 1973; I moved out of the area after that summer and haven't been back since.

Jim Harvey |

I was a Rafters regular from 1976-1982 and remember how during the racing season there was an influx of jockeys and Manhattan elite who knew that Rafters was the only place to see and be seen....I recall the smell of the dry ice when Kevin (the light/laser op) would let it stream downward from above, a telltale sign that lasers and strobes were not far behind....I remember after they added lasers, neon "spokes" in a wheel pattern were installed outward from the center spiral staircase that was in the middle of the main dancefloor....and they added some monster strobes in the floor as well.....truly amazing nightclub lightshow by even today's standards....

I really would love to see some pics of the dance floor(s), dj booth, game room, hot dog stand!!

Rich |

His name was actually "Johnny"
Very funny character!
I actually worked at billy burns daughter party. She was a very lucky girl.
great parents and they adored her!
Rafters was a grea lace but had better people that worked there.
They treated you like family!

Mike O |

Even a menton of the Rafters brings back so many pleasant memories... The drive, the packed parking lot, Billy B. at the door, Judy at the bar, and Tommy making music into memories.. Who could forget when The Rafters moved into the laser age then the video age.. I wanted to host a party there so bad thats where we held our 10 year high school reunion in the summer of 1986. I miss the Rafters.

Tom Lewis |

I have only fond memories of The Rafters. Playing the right song at the right time was always very gratifying. I enjoyed reading all the comments.

ADK DJ |

I worked for Tom Lewis and managed the multi-op mobile DJ company, Entertainment Today, Inc, from the late 80's to the late 90's. The Albany NY Disc Jockey Association and Disco Beats, two businesses that Tom Lewis also was involved in, were run out of the same office. Although I had a strong music background and had "spun" at a few parties, it wasn't until joining the team that I got into DJ'ing full time. As a college student at a local area school, there would be buses running to take students up to Rafters on Thurday College Nights... I remember them all too well!! Leading up to when Rafters was closing, I was one of the few that had the pleasure of DJ'ing at some of the last weddings or events that were booked there... it was great having that experience, working on the equipment that brought such great fun and pleasure to everyone that attended!! There will never again be anyplace like the Rafters!!

D |

I was there with the Australian baseball team in 1984. We were playing in the U/19 world series in Albany and some of the parents took us there to let our hair down on one of the few spare nights we had from the tournament. The whole team ended up there and we had a blast. I remember it being enormous with multiple levels, and jumping around on the dance floor when the DJ played an INXS song. Very fond memories of that night, the town of Menands where we stayed and NY state. Hope to get back there again one day ...

Wilma |

There is an exhibit about the Rafter's and Kaydeross Park in the history museum in the Canfield Casino in Saratoga. There are also commerative t-shirts being sold. They're great, the artwork is done by Hud. Check them out on Facebook...Rafters T-Shirt.

Scott Morgan |

I had the privilege of DJing there a couple of Wednesdays with Tommy Lewis and it was the only time I have ever been nervous! I was the resident DJ at Metro in town at the time and Tommy used to DJ there on Fridays for a while as a guest DJ. It was definitely the Studio 54 of upstate! Awesome sound system (We bought it after Rafters closed).

Katherine Tracy |

What fun we had at the " RAFTERS " small town kids having a great time at The Rafters. I remember the place was huge,great dance floor" Disco" early 80's,there was an older couple dressed in costume burnin up the dancefloor.The bar had tons of character,different levels,great light show.Those were the days,we had a ball.Will always be a great memory ; )))))

K.Hypes |

Yes I am, he doesn't work anywhere anymore. My parents live in Fla now and I believe last summer was the first that they didn't make it home for the season. I'm 32, and yes time does fly, I'm on my way to see them for the holiday's. Will pass on your hello!

john |

Are you billy burns kid.? Where does billy burns work now? If you talk to billy burns tell him mutt and jeff says hi. Also how old are you now if you had your birthday party ther at 6 or 7? Also welcome to the web site. Billy burns was a gteat guy when he worked at rafters.
Rafters was a lot of fun and it seems like yesterday but i guess it was a long time ago. The years sure do go by fast.

K.Hypes |

@Bobbie H
I assure you my info is correct, He didn't own a large share, but he was a partner. I know cause I'm his Kid! :) I even had my 6th or 7th bday there, don't think it was even open to the public anymore at that point, but it was the coolest dance party any kid ever had.

Olan |

I think the last song was Turn Me Loose by Loverboy. I loved the laser lights.

kim |

Oh Hi, Oh i loved the rafters it was a real fun place to dance, i went to college in saratoga and went to the rafters on sat nights with other girls from college, we had alot of fun daning with all of the guys there. I remember them turning the lights on brighter saying last call and playing the song LAST DANCE at the end of the night. Does anyone remember that song. I MISS THE RAFTERS! I WOULD BE THERE NOW IF THEY WERE OPEN DANCING AND DRINKING LOL? THANKS AND I WILL TALK TO YOU SOON

john |

Also the beer was $1.00 a pitcher, thats back when a dollar was a dollar, and cheap gas also. Who rembers what the gas cost when we went to the rafters? Wed night mixed drinks the special was .50 jack daniels special. And it was cheaper when rafters first opened. When rafters first opened it was open on wed,thur, fri sat night. Than they started staying open only wed, fri, sat night. Who remembers rafters being open on thur nights in the begining when thrley first opened?

Olan |

I remember that professor Bob, he wore wild colored vest and feathers. My brother pick one of his feathers and old Bob caught my brother and told him he came there to get f---ked
not plucked. I never laughed so hard in my hole life.

john |

The busiest night was always wed the day before thanksgiving. And the cops were notbad about drunk driving like today. I went there all of the time, good times halloween, and new years eve also

john |

RAFTERS NO 1, BEST DISCO! WHO REMEMBERS THE CHEAP JACK DANIELS DRINK SPECIALS! AND HOW ABOUT A GUY ON THE DANCE FLOOR THAT WASOLDER AND A PROFESSER NAMED BOB! HE DRESSED IN WHITE WITH A HAT AND RIBBONS, LATER HE DANCED WITH A GIRL FRIEND WITH RIBBONS! HE WAS THERE ALL OF THE TIME? BILLY BURNS WAS A GREAT GUY? BEST BOUNCER GOOD FRIEN AND GOOD GUY? THE LAST TIME I SEEM HIM WAS YEARS AGO AT THE HOILDAYIN IN SARATOGA

Gene Griesau |

I enjoyed the rafters in its heyday.

Is there a place I can find genuine memorabilia (ash trays, napkins, drink stirrers, calendar, menus, etc.) from the rafters?

JOE |

bY FAR THE GREATEST PLACE TO GO IN THE LATE 70'S & 80'S. wOULD SOMETIMES GO 3 NIGHTS A WEEK.

DON |

JIM,
THANKS SO MUCH FOR THE PICTURES, REALLY ENJOYED THEM. HOW I WISH THE CLUB WAS STILL THERE, IT WAS ONE OF KIND!

Larry |

Jim, thanks for the photos! Sure brings back lots of memories for me!

Jim |

Unfortunately, the pics I posted do not show just how enormous this club was, nor do they highlight just how amazing and packed a Saturday could be. The Rafters held many weddings and private parties, and these photos were taken during the day in between two functions. But they still help remind me of what an amazing place it was. Enjoy!

The pic showing the main floor also shows the upstairs area which consisted of 5 or 6 seperate levels. Each of these levels were open to the huge dance floor on the main level.

Evy |

Jim, you mentioned you took lots of pictures. Can you post some? There's a ..you may be from Saratoga...on Facebook. People are looking for old rafter pics. Or is there somewhere else we could see them. Thanks.

Luis R |

I worked at the Saratoga racetrack for Stevens in 1979 & 1981 when I went to Rafters. Absolutely, the greated disco of all time. Please post any picture available.

Larry |

I lived in Latham for 5 years from 1977-1982. The Rafters was my favorite disco! The bass could be heard from the parking lot. What was unique was the 2-levels. I still remember the fantastic laser light shows and fog. If anybody has any photos, interior or exterior, I would like to see them!

DON |

I LOVED THAT PLACE,SO MANY GREAT TIMES THERE. THE PLACE WAS ONE OF A KIND. DOES ANYONE OUT THERE HVE ANY PICTURES OR MOVIES FROM THE GREAT DANCE CLUB? STILL MISS THE PLACE!!
THANKS

Olan |

When they played Lover boy turn me loose they would really get the smoke and the lasers cranking ,great times.

Olan |

Ya Billy Burns is big guy,he works at Siros last I knew. The Rafters
was such a great time and still my favorite .

Bobbie H. |

I loved The Rafters also! I was a cocktail waitress there first, then I took the money at the door, which was sooo cold in the winter, and then became a bar maid! I remember working with some great people.. Shelly, Pat, but I was never aware that Bill Burns aka Burnsey ever owned a share.. not sure that info is correct!

Joe Kehn |

I loved the Rafters and was a weekly visitor back in 1976, although the drive back to Wynantskill was many times difficult after the Wednesday night special. I recently visited a friend who lives over in the townhouses where the rafters use to stand and I have to admit I was very sad that old building or part of it didnt exist. Does anyone have pictures they could post. Id love to see them,

K.Hypes |

Hey just wanted to add that Greg wasn't the only owner. He had partners one of which was Bill Burns, he also worked the door, and I know many people have tons of memories of him also known as "big Bill"

Olan |

The Rafters was the greatest club ever.I use to love when they played turn me loose by loverboy and
crank the lasers and the smoke.

Jim |

I worked at The Rafters the last three years of its existance. I have never enjoyed a job more. And "magical" is the perfect word to describe it. The final function there was a private Halloween party in October 1987, and it was so sad walking out that last evening knowing the place was to be torn down so condos could be built. Fortunately I knew enough to take many pictures. Maybe one day a place similair can be built.

Lyn |

Yes, the Rafters was the best dance club I have ever been to! I used to work for the race track and would go there during racing season. I cried when I found out the Rafters had been closed! Those were some of the best times of my life! A great dance club in one of the most beautiful cities in the US.

Mick |

I recall the Rafters too, I first went there on a Wednesday night in March of 1982, Wednesday's were ok but Saturday's the club was banging.

It was magical, a fireplace, a motorcycle on the ceiling. A deck that overlooked the lake, the place was magical. Three bars. A huge huge dance floor and the light show was just a head of it's time. To this day theres clubs in Saratoga that don't match up with The Rafters and this is 2011.

Another one of the best parts of The Rafters is what someone noted above, the place would never deny admission to anyone for not liking them or rumors of someone. Other clubs do that today, bar some one for nothing. The Rafters never did, if you were kicked for fight ok, but thats it. It was magical, I recall going to The Rafters from 1982-1987. I went in February of 1987 and the next time I went in late March of 1987 there was a 'CLOSED' sign on the door, I nearly cried.

I then went to The Lamp Post in Albany but it couldn't match The Rafters. The only club that came close was the new 1995 Saratoga version of Nick's Sneaky Pete's on Broadway, but unlike The Rafters they had 'IF WE DON'T LIKE YOU, YOU CAN'T COME IN' rules. Alot of clubs have these rules now and they should be outlawed, if a club does this it should be closed.

Lets have 10 seconds of silence to remember The Rafters...those laser lights, fog machine and those winding staircases and 3 bars... The Rafters was a magical dance club, lets hope someone opens one like it soon..... WE MISS THE RAFTERS...

Scot Wagar |

I went there from 1976-79 before I moved to Phoenix AZ. I had a great time and most of my friends from the Ballston Lake area also went there. I really miss that place and would be still be living in Upstate N.Y. If it wasn't for the damn cold winters.

DON |

THE RAFTERS WAS THE GREATEST CLUB EVER. I WENT THERE FROM 1980- 87. I MISS THAT PLACE SO MUCH! LOVE TO HERE FROM OTHER PEOPLE WHO WENT THERE. TOMMY WAS A GREAT DJ, GREAT BARTENDERS-CATHY ETC. I NEVER HAVE BEEN TO A CLUB LIKE THE RAFTERS. IT WAS MAGICAL!

Luis |

One of the best disco I have ever gone to. I was working for the NYRA- concessions (Steven's- Hello, if anyone outhere was part of my crew). I worked out of the Belmont/Aquaduct race track and traveled to Saratoga in 1979 & 1980 to work at the racetrack. For everybody, Rafters was the spot for fun, drinks, dancing, and to meet people. Missed those days. It did have a warm feeling. Everybody was welcomed.

Mick Dante |

I recall The Rafters very well and it did have a very great laser light show. It was very much ahead of its time and to this day still remains one of the niciest and most unique night/dance clubs I've ever seen and I seen so many dance clubs. Why did the place close. I recall it closed in March of 1987, I was there for its last Saturday in business in in early March of 1987. We need another club like this one, where everyone is welcome and there are no 'we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone' The Rafters never did that. If you were kicked out for fighting ok..but there was no 'we just don't like you so can't come in' lets go back to those days with clubs like The Rafers...

Jim N |

Great place to dance and meet people. It was always packed and the light show was terrific

Donna Buonagura |

I used to go to the Rafters when the Racetrack was opened. I worked for NYRA and went to Saratoga for 10 years. I was only 16 on my first trip up and my mom used to take us to dinner first then we would hang around until the club opened. Will never forget it. Miss that place. Saratoga was never the same when it closed. :(

Betty Griffin |

I miss this place so much ,it was one of the best times of my life !

 

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