Socializing In Dickinson, North Dakota

I lived in Dickinson, North Dakota during the years 2011 through 2018.  There was an Oil Boom going on in Dickinson from 2007 through 2014, that ended once the price of oil dropped below $80 per barrel near the end of 2014, and continued to fall.

In 2011 in Dickinson, restaurants, bars, hotels, apartments, and RV Parks were crowded with people from all over the United States who had great optimism and enthusiasm about having the chance to make a lot of money in the oil field.  These were not bad people, many of these people were educated, intelligent, hardworking, talented people who were looking for the opportunity to make their fortune.

All over the United States, on television news, or television shows, reporters and journalist were telling about how everyone was making over $100,000 per year in North Dakota.  Although this was not true, the people from all over the United States that arrived in Dickinson with great optimism and enthusiasm, wouldn’t know that this wasn’t true until they had worked through the Spring, Summer, Fall, and into the Winter.

Although for me personally, I had been convinced by my own thoughts and the local people in Dickinson, that the years 2007 through 2014 were the “Ugly Years”, or the “Oil Field Trash Years”,  these were actually the best of times, the affluent years, and the most social years for Dickinson.

The point of me writing this particular blog post, is that the local people and myself, believed that after the Oil Boom ended, Dickinson would return to some kind of normalcy, and calm down to something that was preferable.  It has dawned on me now, that the Oil Boom years 2007 through 2014 were the best years as far as socializing and having fun in Dickinson.

In 2011 in Dickinson, in the Summer at Patterson Lake Beach, there would be about 200 people at this beach every weekend, sunning, swimming, throwing frisbees, throwing footballs, drinking, and cooking out.  About 150 of these people would be men, and 50 of them would be women.  At the time, I might have thought that there were only 50 women or less, because there were just too many men, but the opposite was true, women came to Patterson Lake Beach because there were so many men.

There were maybe 20 attractive looking women at Patterson Lake Beach on the weekend in the Summer of 2011, because there were so many men.  About half of these attractive women on Patterson Lake Beach were Dickinson State University students, a few were local high school girls, the rest were women who came to work in Dickinson.

In 2011, I never could have imagined that in the Summer of 2013, there would only be twenty people on the beach at Patterson Lake on the weekend.  And by 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018 in the Summer on the weekend there would only be about five people on the beach at Patterson Lake.

In the Summer of 2013, when I was shocked to see only twenty people at Patterson Lake Beach, I thought that what must have happened was that the out of state workers got tired of the local people, the local people got tired of the out of state workers, and the Dickinson State University girls got tired of everyone ogling them, so no one came to the beach anymore.

Also in 2013, I noted that bars that had had 200 people inside at night during 2011, now only had about 50 people.  In 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018 the number of people in these bars might be five people.

In 2013, 2014, and 2015, there were often very large wedding receptions held in the ballroom of the Astoria Hotel, the Elks Lodge, and the Eagles Lodge.  These large wedding reception parties have become much, much fewer after 2016.

The large event parties that were held in 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 such as the API Fish Fry and the Hair Ball Concert in the West River Ice Rink Center, parties and concerts in the Biesiot Activities Center, and the downtown Alive at 5 Concerts have become much smaller, and much less frequent.

Altogether, since the beginning of the end of the Oil Boom in Dickinson, there have been much, much fewer people going to Patterson Lake Beach, bars at night, having parties, putting on events, putting on concerts, or going to events or concerts.  What happened?, the population of Dickinson might have peaked at 28,000 and is now at maybe 23,000, with only 5,000 people moving away, why would Patterson Lake Beach or bars go from having 200 people at a time, to only having 5 people at a time?

I must have written this phrase twenty times in my previous blog posts, “Once the Oil Boom ended in 2014, the out of state workers returned to the states where they came from.”  5,000 workers returned to the states where they came from.  I now realize, that the out of state workers made Dickinson a much more sociable place than it had been.

Earlier in this blog post, I wrote that I had been convinced that Dickinson would return to a kind of “normalcy” after the Oil Boom was over.  Once Dickinson became quieter and calmer, I thought that local people would emerge from their holes and burrows, but they haven’t really.

I was somewhat mistaken about what was happening during the Oil Boom, and what would happen after the Oil Boom ended, because I was not realizing or recognizing that there was a big difference between the out of state workers and the people who are from Dickinson.

The out of state workers, were risk takers or adventurers, whether they wanted to be or not.  They left behind their families, friends, what they knew, and what they were familiar with, to travel a long distance to go somewhere where they didn’t know anyone, or know about anything.  They had to be outgoing, in order to get a job, find a place to live, find a place to eat, find a bank, get along with people, and keep their job.

The local people in Dickinson, are the opposite of risk takers or adventurers, they chose to stay in the same place all of their life, not ever deal with anything or anyone unfamiliar to them, and not try new things.  (Now that I think about it, if I would have written this paragraph before, this explains why the local people in Dickinson do not like out of state workers:  they don’t like dealing with anything or anyone that is unfamiliar to them, and they don’t like trying new things, new ideas, or change.)

So, as far as 2007 through 2014 actually having been the best of times, the most affluent years, and the most social years for Dickinson, it was because of the Oil Boom economy, and the influx of out of state workers.  The out of state workers had to be outgoing by necessity in order to begin working and living in some place that was completely new and different to them, while at the same time intentionally and unintentionally forcing new ideas, beliefs, ways of doing things, and changes onto the local people, who were reluctant and resistant to try anything new, or change anything.

Now that the Oil Boom is over, and the out of state workers have returned to the states where they came from, the local people in Dickinson can do what they want to do with much less interference or disruption.  And it appears, that what local people in Dickinson want to do, is mostly just stay home.

A second reason for me writing this particular blog post, is to explain why it may be a mistake for Odyssey Theaters or the City of Dickinson to plan on new development in downtown Dickinson, in order to make it a social gathering point.  Odyssey Theaters and the City of Dickinson are just not realizing, that the local people in Dickinson, are not social people, they do not like things that they are unfamiliar with, new ideas, new ways of doing things, or changes.  They would much rather stay home, than be around people that they do not know.

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