ARTHUR (AP) - Growing up next to a dance hall didn't burn Eric Johnson out on parties.
Picking up after the dances, as he has most of his life, is a different story.
"That's probably made me a little neater at other people's houses," he said.
The 22-year-old is part of the third generation of Johnsons to throw regular barn dances a couple miles north of Arthur. It's a legacy of revelry more than a half-century old that shows no signs of stopping, even in an age when a hayloft hootenanny seems too quaint for the teens and college kids who populate the crowds at Johnson's Barn.
"It's kind of like this area's best-kept secret," said Jason Brekhus, frontman for cover band 24 Seven, a frequent barn performer.
At a dance in late April, the barn seemed like a particularly well-kept secret. The crowd at the 500-person hall was still hovering at about 100 or so as midnight ticked close.
"Sometimes you sell out. Sometimes you don't," Brian Johnson, Eric's father, said with a shrug. The barn's biggest draw, steel-guitar-driven country band Avalanche, played to a sold-out house the weekend previous.
Kalvin Hoff and Celie Norgaard, 22-year-old students at North Dakota State University, stood in a circle with friends at the back of the floor, sipping on bottles of beer. They don't remember how they heard of the barn, but they know they like it.
For one, it's nice to get out of town, Hoff said.
"There's nothing wrong with a road trip," he said.
There aren't too many venues like Johnson's Barn: an all-ages live music venue where of-age attendees can bring in their own beer.
"It's a good idea," Hoff said. "It's something other than a club and something young people can go do."
Brekhus said he frequently hears from young fans who tell their grandparents about this new joint they found, only to be told: "That's not new! That's Herb's!"
As the fading photos of past bands plastered to the barn walls attest, the dances are indeed nothing new.
"I know it's corny, but you can feel the history there," Brekhus said.
The history stretches back to 1952, when Brian's father, Herb, replaced his burned barn by hauling one in from Grandin, traveling about a dozen miles as the crow flies across the ditch-free countryside on three single-axle trucks.
Brian, who with his wife, Becky, now owns the barn and working farm, wasn't around to help with the move. He was being born.
"This is all my life," Brian Johnson said of the barn.
Before he even filled the dairy barn's loft, Herb held a fundraising dance for the local fire department. It went well, "so he decided to have a few of his own," Brian said.