Haunted Hometown: Cain’s Ballroom

cains haunted hometown

The Cain’s Ballroom is one of my all time favorite places in my hometown. I had my high school senior photos taken there, and have witnessed so much talent and music within those walls. It’s always been a dream of mine to perform there myself (I’m an amateur singer-songwriter), which is a dream that is yet to be realized. This place also has a strong pop-culture history and has helped to shape Tulsa as the city it is.

I’ll never forget the FIRST time I came to the Cain’s Ballroom. I was in middle school and attended the Coheed and Cambria and A.F.I. show there in 2004 with my brother and my dad (definitely a sign of the times and my music taste…). I have grown up with some pretty awesome parents who have embraced and instilled in me a deep love of music – so much so they gave up their evening to escort their adolescent children to an emo-punk-rock concert on a school night.

I aspire to be a cool parent like that someday…but, I digress! Let’s dive into the history and reported hauntings at this iconic music venue.

Cain’s was built in 1924 as an automobile garage for one of Tulsa’s founders, W. Tate Brady.  Shortly after it was built in 1930,  Madison W. “Daddy” Cain purchased the building and began using it to host dance lessons and named it “Cain’s Dance Academy.” Bob Wills’s Western Swing band, the Texas Playboys soon began holding their regular KVOO radio broadcast from the ballroom.

In college, I met with one of the current owners of the venue, Alice Rodgers, for a project I was working on. She shared lots with me about the updates done to the venue and some tidbits from its history.

One notable and famous show, was when the Sex Pistols came to town and performed here. The venue became the Cain’s Ballroom in 1976 when it was purchased by Larry Schaeffer, who also updated the venue after years of disuse. Shortly after its opening as a concert venue, the Sex Pistols put on a show there in 1978 and apparently Sid Vicious, being the punk rocker he was, punched a hole in the green room wall at the time. It is said that piece of wall has been preserved and hopefully it will displayed to the public someday at the much anticipated OK POP museum.

I found the following full paranormal investigative report online about the activity reported at the Cain’s that was done about 10 years ago. It’s a good read for some specific experiences and to dig into some EMF activity that was captured.

The following paranormal accounts have been shared about the Cain’s Ballroom:

  • It is said the spirit of Bob Wills haunts the Cain’s (I can understand this haunting because Bob Wills had such an impact on the venue and really made it something iconic)
  • The presence of a spirit named Joan (or some reports say Jane) that dates back to the 1950s inhabits this place

  • The spirit of a girl name Chloe is said to also be active here
  • Differentiation in temperatures, or rather, hot and cold spots have been reported by paranormal investigators
  • Orbs in photographs occur frequently

  • Some investigators report seeing apparitions, and hearing disembodied voices, giggling, singing, and the feeling of being watched
  • Sightings of a “lady in red” has been seen, heard and felt by both employees and patrons.


I love the walkway as you approach this historic venue – it tells a bit of Tulsa’s musical past. Famous Western Swing stars and Oklahoma Musicians are noted on the sidewalk as you approach the venue. It is Oklahoma’s own little “Walk of Fame.”

Don’t let the haunted accounts here deter you from visiting the Cain’s Ballroom. I have not had a personal paranormal account here, but I have had plenty of great memories and good times!

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