Pittsfield’s Bubble Room an Inflatable Structure Featured Restaurants Entertainment and Even a Pool History

Pittsfield’s Bubble Room an Inflatable Structure Featured Restaurants Entertainment and Even a Pool History

For over 25 years, Pittsfield’s Imperial Lanes, located at 10 Lyman St. just off East Street, was a hub of entertainment. While many remember it for its bowling alleys, it was also home to the iconic Bubble Room, a supper club, restaurant, and cocktail lounge that left a lasting impression on baby boomers.

The Imperial Lanes was the brainchild of Al Bianchi and Lou Pia, both successful owners of smaller bowling alleys. They partnered with Martin Pullano Jr., a young lawyer and entrepreneur, to create a mega entertainment center. Their vision was to merge their businesses into one grand location.

The Bubble Room in Pittsfield was a pioneering concept, possibly the first supper club in the country housed in an inflatable structure. This colorful tent-like structure, made of plastic-covered nylon, was inflated by three compressors and became a landmark at the Imperial Lanes on Lyman and East streets.

When the Imperial Lanes opened on January 1, 1962, it was the largest and most modern single-story bowling operation in Massachusetts, spanning 30,000 square feet. It featured 40 bowling lanes, state-of-the-art equipment, a 206-seat restaurant and cocktail lounge named the Copper Pin, a snack bar, a nursery, a meeting room, and locker space. The success of the venture led the owners to plan the addition of a supper club, which would become the Bubble Room.

Construction of the Bubble Room began in June 1962 but faced delays, including a significant fire in December that caused $500,000 in damages to the Copper Pin and kitchen area. Despite these setbacks, the Bubble Room was completed on December 14, 1963. This massive, multicolored, plastic-coated nylon tent was supported entirely by air and became a central feature of the entertainment complex.

The Bubble Room’s dining areas had unique names like the Oriental Lounge, French Room, Apache Bar, and Jungle Room, all under the main restaurant name of Copper Pin. The structure itself was anchored on an oval slab foundation, measuring 150 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 35 feet high at its center. It featured a parquet dance floor, a raised stage for live performances, and could accommodate over 500 patrons. The room also had two service bars, a stand-up bar, and multiple wait stations.

A standout feature of the Bubble Room was its small, free-form heated swimming pool with underwater lighting. The facility also included a large stainless steel kitchen and three entrances with airlock doors to maintain the tent’s inflation. The Bubble Room quickly became a popular venue for business events, civic association meetings, award ceremonies, reunions, fashion shows, fundraisers, and wedding and anniversary parties. It was open for lunch and dinner during the week and featured live music and dancing from Wednesday to Saturday evenings.

In the spring of 1965, a Boston promoter planned to host weekly professional boxing matches in the Bubble Room, with seating and tables set up for 500 patrons to dine during the bouts. However, low attendance led to the cancellation of further events. Wrestling events, featuring well-known wrestlers like Gorgeous George, were more successful and continued for a few months.

The Bubble Room also introduced the local community to a variety of musical entertainment, including a mini-Grand Ole Opry with performers from Nashville. As rock music gained popularity, local cover bands attracted younger patrons to dance nights and college mixers.

The largest crowd ever in the Bubble Room was for a fundraiser for Mayor Remo Del Gallo in December 1965, which drew 800 people. Unfortunately, hours after the event, a fire broke out in a shed housing the blowers for the air to inflate the room. Repairs were made, and the tent was replaced in March 1966. Some adjoining rooms were also renamed and redecorated, becoming the Casbah and the Jungle Room.

The Bubble Room faced several challenges during its short lifespan, including controversy over hosting high school after-prom parties and college mixers, which required close monitoring and the presence of police officers. Additionally, an archaic Massachusetts law prohibiting women from having liquor if not seated had to be addressed.

The biggest challenge came in July 1966 when a violent thunderstorm damaged the tent. Despite repairs, the facility had to close in the spring of 1968. Martin Pullano and his associates sued the tent manufacturer for poor design and installation, but the lawsuit took nine years to resolve, with the decision ultimately supporting the manufacturer.

The Bubble Room operated for just over four years, but it left a lasting legacy. Many baby boomers still share fond memories of dancing, music, and meeting lifelong friends at the Bubble Room. It was a special place that created many cherished memories.

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