Mansfield and Area Dance Halls 1950's

Our Saturday Night Fever...

By Alan Curtis

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 !!!

Photo:Photogrph taken at the Lawn Mills Annual Dance 1947

Photogrph taken at the Lawn Mills Annual Dance 1947

This page was added on 10/01/2013.
Comments about this page

Clipstone was a great Venue but I do not remember the Days of the Hardy Smith Band. When I and my Friends went there the music tended to be visiting bands - Johnny Dankworth, Carl Barriteau, Ronnie Scott, Harry Gold etc. I believe Cleo Laine's first appearance with Dankworth was at Clipstone that was a great night.

By Malcolm Raynor
On 10/01/2013

Oh the memories!!! I left school in 1952 and we caught the train to Shirebrook to experience the Elite Dance Hall, Charlie Faulkner was the MC. Any fighting on the Dance Floor he would jump down from the stage where the band were playing and using his violin like a Rapierl he would separate the miscreants.We would then catch the bus home when the Dance Hall closed. Other venues were the Empress Hall in Warsop where the Blue Ramblers would play, the Saxophonist was Ramsey Allcock whose class I was in at Yorke St, MW he also taught recorder at the school. A good and fair man we all had a lot of respect for him. Turner Memorial Hall,MW the MC was Cyril Welch the local undertaker and was on hand to separarate lads from dancing together, many a Saturday night you would be going by the windows outside the Hall and a fist or foot would come through the window, it was a wild place. It must have cost the Church an arm and a leg replacing the windows. The Cavendish Ballroom was a very sedate Ballroom, some of my cycling pals were in the Formation Dancing Team, every girl seemed to have a partner already so any newcomer had difficulty in getting a Dance because of the lack of partners and the sequence dances were out of the ordinary scope of the casual visitor.. Swifts on Station St again for the keen dancer not the casual type that we were. They were happy times and kept you fit, dancing about for 3 hours plus you were ready to hit the sack but not before you had to walk home because the buses were full.

By Tom Shead
On 13/01/2013

Dance halls where I went to were Mansfield Palais,-Bands--Hardy Smith and Jonny Berry, who was a friend of our family. Blidworth Miners Welfare on a Saturday night was also one of my regular haunts, when dances were held. I had lots of friends in Rainworth and Blidworth, and we all had girl friends some times in rotation, but we loved them all as good friends

By ron brown
On 22/12/2013

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