Are Ye Goin' t'the Dancin'?

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Are Ye Goin' t'the Dancin'?

Postby Dugald » Fri May 18, 2007 11:28 am

Are Ye Goin' t'the Dancin'?

Ballroom dancing was always a big part of life in Glasgow for most of the last Century. The city was full of great dance halls and loaded with great dancers. It seemed marvellous to me that guys could go to "the dancing" any night of the week (except Sunday) and do any kind of dance, that I longed to be able to be able to join them. My pal and I went to an 'open night' at a dance school, Dalgliesh's on Burnbank Gardens. We sat on the chairs at the side of this mirror-surrounded room and watched with unbelievable admiration and envy all these people gliding gracefully across the highly polished floor. We sat all night without venturing on to the floor. On our way out Mr. Dalgliesh told us to come back next week and we'd get in again for nothing (it cost two bob!). I never went back, my pal did, and he went on to become one of Scotland's champion ballroom dancer... I just went on.

Anyway, I learned to dance eventually and loved it. My early dancing was at the South Govan Town Hall, where I danced every Monday night to George Lappin and his three-piece band. Oh, it didn't take long until I could glide across the floor and dance all over the city like most Glaswegians of my age. The 'big' halls were the Playhouse, the Locarno, the Palais, Barrowland (well, maybe not quite), and the Plaza.

The Playhouse always had 'big name' bands: Joe Loss, Oscar Rabin, Dr. Crock, Ivy Benson, Squadronaires, to mention but a few. (I once fell on my ta-raa-raa right in front of the Oscar Rabin band... talk about humiliation!). The other 'big' halls also had good big bands, but not quite of the Playhouse calibre.

I guess the classiest, though not necessarily the best, dance hall in the city was the Plaza; a really elegant place located at Eglinton Toll-- had a fountain in the middle of the floor, and strictly for strict-tempo dancing. The Locarno was a well-appointed hall too, but like the Playhouse, it tended to get packed.

Aside from the 'big name' places there were good dance halls all over the city. The Albert and the Berkely were in a class by themselves, then there were the others like the F&F's, the Top Hat Ballroom, the Partick Borough Hall, Springburn Hall...loads of such places. Best dancers? I'd say this honour belonged to a wee dance hall in Yoker called "Spier's", but it was very difficult to get in because of its popularity, but once in, you were assured of a great night's dancing. At times too, one would venture afield to places like Templar's in Paisley, the Moorings in Largs. Oh, to be able to dance in Glasgow, was to be able to have a great time.


Dancing always featured prominently on the Glasgow social calendar. Offices, works, churches, bowling clubs, tennis clubs, cycling clubs, football clubs, all had their "Annual Dance". And many is the time a Glasgow wedding stemmed from a chance encounter in one of the city's many dance halls. Young ladies with their dance shoes tucked under their arms, and spivved-up young men heading out for a night's entertainment, was a common sight on a Glasgow bus or tramcar, especially at the weekend. Yes, the dancin' was a big part of Glasgow's social life.

Before leaving Glasgow, I danced regularly in the Albert Ballroom (Bath St.? ). There was no drinking in dance halls in these days and they generally closed about 11pm. Not at all what they became later. I think the last time I danced in Glasgow was at the Plaza in 1972. I am glad I learned to dance, it gave me a lot of pleasure. I still dance every week on a Saturday afternoon on a wee floor about the size of a Glasgow dance hall's cloakroom, and I still enjoy it. Great pastime !
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Postby crusty_bint » Fri May 18, 2007 11:33 am

Nice Dugald 8)

Im picturing you in 1972...
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Postby cumbo » Fri May 18, 2007 11:36 am

Are you Bible John?
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Postby cheesylion » Fri May 18, 2007 11:41 am

cumbo wrote:Are you Bible John?


JIST PISSED MASEL'!!!! ::): ::):
Ching Ching!!!!!!!
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Re: Are Ye Goin' t'the Dancin'?

Postby Peekay » Fri May 18, 2007 11:54 am

Dugald wrote: I think the last time I danced in Glasgow was at the Plaza in 1972.


I think the last time I danced was in the Plaza....though that was nearer 1992 and there was no fountain. Elf'n'Safety would have put paid to that. £20 in and it was from 11pm-8am. Great nights! Music was probably a wee bit different too.

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Re: Are Ye Goin' t'the Dancin'?

Postby Schiehallion » Fri May 18, 2007 11:58 am

Peekay wrote:
Dugald wrote: I think the last time I danced in Glasgow was at the Plaza in 1972.


I think the last time I danced was in the Plaza....though that was nearer 1992 and there was no fountain. Elf'n'Safety would have put paid to that. £20 in and it was from 11pm-8am. Great nights! Music was probably a wee bit different too.

PK


The fountain was still there in the late 80's although not turned on I seem to remember. I was very very drunk right enough.
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Postby Schiehallion » Fri May 18, 2007 11:59 am

cumbo wrote:Are you Bible John?


Class. ::): ::):
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Postby JayKay » Fri May 18, 2007 12:51 pm

A couple of years ago I was at a family wedding. A cousin was marrying a chap from venezuela, and the reception was held in Glasgow.

Of course, given the high proportion of latin americans in the house, there was a great deal of latin american music played. Needless to say, the latin american contingent thought that the dancefloor was theirs.

But they had not reckoned for the many older uncles who had spent much of their youth at the Locarnos, Plazas and Barrowlands...

Walking sticks were abandoned, war wounds forgotten and hip and knee replacements tested to the max.

I've never seen these old guys look so sprightly, birling the latina chicas around to their rumbas, salsas chachachas and sambas. Quite a sight.

I reckon they were gobsmacked (if such a word can be translated into Spanish) that the Gringos, especially these silver foxes, could move like that.

Needless to say, the younger(ish) members of the reception stood around awkwardly and shuffled off to the bar and buffet, quietly regretting they'd never learned how to move their pale asses to the latin rhythms...
*value of posts can go down as well as up.
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Re: Are Ye Goin' t'the Dancin'?

Postby Peekay » Fri May 18, 2007 1:18 pm

Schiehallion wrote:
Peekay wrote:
Dugald wrote: I think the last time I danced in Glasgow was at the Plaza in 1972.


I think the last time I danced was in the Plaza....though that was nearer 1992 and there was no fountain. Elf'n'Safety would have put paid to that. £20 in and it was from 11pm-8am. Great nights! Music was probably a wee bit different too.

PK


The fountain was still there in the late 80's although not turned on I seem to remember. I was very very drunk right enough.


After some pondering there was a load of tables set up in the middle of the floor. Maybe these were covering it up. It couldn't have been very high though. 2/3 feet tops maybe?

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Postby gap74 » Fri May 18, 2007 1:37 pm

Interior of the Plaza just prior to demolition, from the RCAHMS website - I guess that rectangular marking on the floor was where the fountain was?

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Postby Dexter St. Clair » Fri May 18, 2007 6:14 pm

I've never seen these old guys look so sprightly, birling the latina chicas around to their rumbas, salsas chachachas and sambas. Quite a sight.

I reckon they were gobsmacked (if such a word can be translated into Spanish) that the Gringos, especially these silver foxes, could move like that.


Up until the twist came in everybody had to learn to dance with a partner. Glasgow was as Dugald has noted a dancing City and latin American dancing was huge in Glasgow. Tito Puente landed in Greenock as a sailor and made his way to Glasgow. I'm sure he was impressed by some of the Glasgow bands.

Donny Burns raised in Hamilton was 14 times Latin American dance champion.

Latin music had a bit of a revival in in the seventies when the first Chilean refugees arrived. Dances were out on at the Community central hall in Maryhill and late in the eighties there was a very popular night in The Bedsit at Park Terrace.

Here's Alex Harvey attempt at a Mambo orchestra

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Due to a copyright challeng he later changed it to Vambo
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Postby engineer » Fri May 18, 2007 7:07 pm

i was at an EMF gig in the plaza sometime in 91 or 92 and the fountain was still there. the crowd was jumping quite a bit making large cracks round it's base and bouncers were flinging folk off it
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Postby Mori » Fri May 18, 2007 8:22 pm

SHAKE, RATTLE AND ROLL: hundreds join the crush outside the Odeon to
see Bill Haley perform in 1957


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Postby Dugald » Sat May 19, 2007 9:46 pm

Thanks for the kind and for the interesting comments about dancing in Glasgow folks. I'm not too sure about this "Are you Bible John?" though. I don't know anything about him, and since I have this feeling that I'm better off not knowing anything about him, I'll just leave it that way.
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Re: Are Ye Goin' t'the Dancin'?

Postby gap74 » Sun Apr 20, 2008 9:36 pm

The Majestic Ballroom in Hope Street:

This was originally the Savoy, a variety theatre opened in 1911, designed by James Miller to seat 1,600. It was converted to a cinema in 1916, and renamed the New Savoy. The stalls area was extended into the space taken up by the stage and a new proscenium built.

The cinema closed in 1958, and a rather radical rebuild took place under Rank ownership to create the Majestic Ballroom. The foyer was removed, replaced by kitchens built right up to the front doors, and a new entrance created to the right. The first circle was cut back and the main girder used to create a smaller balcony for the ballroom, whilst the upper circles were all hidden above a new false ceiling. The main dancefloor was also extended into an adjacent lane.

Anyways, these photos came to me recently - I'd seen the older ones of the facade and auditorium but had never seen the dancefloor shot before - very funky!

More info on the cinema history of the building here:

http://www.scottishcinemas.org.uk/glasgow/newsavoy.html

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