Having seen the comments regarding dance bands and dance halls on the Granada ,West Gate page, and with this in mind, I have done a page to represent the dance halls that were so popular in our area during the 1950’s and 60’s.
In the Mansfield area there were quite a few of these very popular Dance Places. They became the weekend meeting places for girls and boys who were the teenagers of the 50’s…Wow, what times they were ! Talk about ,Gee but it’s great after being out late, Walking my baby back home….That is just what you did if you missed the last bus.. The early 50’s were the times of the Gaberdine Suits, and Blue Suede Crepe soled shoes ( Commonly known as Brothel Creepers in those days). The crepe being over an inch thick, making the wearer walk with a bounce and a swagger. Did a heck of a job for your dancing too..
Walking home from the dance did not seem to be a problem at all, often in groups, and walking down the lanes singing, and doing the Polly Glide or the like. Or you would try and catch the Last Bus.
On one such occasion when there was a mad rush to get onto the last bus from Clipstone Welfare Dance Hall. The bus pulled up at the Bus Stop, with everyone clambering to get on. It was early November, around Bonfire Night. The clambering crowd and the bus took up nearly all the width of the road, and it was most unusual, but a small car wanted to get by the crowd. It was easing slowly past the crowd when someone lit a banger,(firework) and threw the firework into the road, the little car unknowingly drove over the firework, bang the firework exploded. I swear that little car lifted a foot off the ground when the banger went off.
The crowd went silent when a burly Policeman stepped out of the little car.” Who threw that firework ,” shouted the Bobby. No one owned up, or said anything, but all continued to clamber onto the bus.” This bus is going nowhere until I know who threw that firework “, said the Bobby, by this time the bus was full with people standing in the gangways and on the platform. Eventually the Bobby had to let the bus leave, and to this day no one knew who the culprit was. Clipstone was a very good dance venue with a very good dance floor. It was a venue where Hardy Smith’s band often played. Had to tell you that true story as it stays in one’s mind.
Turners Memorial Hall (Mansfield Woodhouse) was another very popular place to go dancing on a Saturday night. During the interval they would serve tea / coffee and buns from the small kitchen in the corner of the dance hall. For the young men who wanted a different kind of drink, there were plenty of Pubs around where they could purchase their wants. I feel it was the Portland Pub at the bottom of the street where we sneaked off to, Cider was popular in those days.. You didn’t have the crush for the bus when the dance ended, as it wasn’t too far to walk a young lady home if she lived in Mansfield. I have to admit that Turners was a place I used to frequent, it was also a place where the American Soldiers would let their hair down on a Saturday night. It is also most probable that it was at this time the Jive was first introduced to Mansfield..It was a young man from Bradder Street who led the way with the Jive around the town, his name was Terry Bryan. People would stand around in a big circle to watch him Jive. He was also a very good artist painter. I recall Terry painting every wall in their front room as a desert scene.
The Palais de Dance was the Up-Market dance hall in the town, to posh for the likes of me at the time, and way out of my league. Much too much for my one two three together dancing. I did get to go to the Palais some years later.
Forest Town Dance hall. [?The Drill Hall] A venue that Hardy Smith also used to play. It was always packed when his band was playing there, although I don’t believe it opened every Saturday Night, and I cannot tell you much about Forest Town Dances.
A later addition to the local dance venues was the Clerkson Street Hall. It was a twice mid-weekly venue were you could learn to Jive listening to Bill Haley and other bouncy records. It was run by a young man and his girlfriend, who were both first class at Jiving. Terry Bryan was another young man who would Jive there and give an exhibition of Jiving with any young lady who wished to learn the Jive. It was a good fill in for mid-week dancing, but unfortunately it did not last that long and Clerkson Street Hall fell into decay.
The Dance Halls have all but disappeared. It is a shame really, as the Saturday night dances, not only made a most enjoyable weekend for everyone, it was a place to meet, get to know those you met, and in many cases, went on to marry.
I have no doubt that many of the older generation can relate and add their own stories about the Saturday Night Hop !!!