The Amazing Roundhouse Kick

When Bruce Lee`s film “Enter the Dragon” hit the screen it seemed that everyone wanted to be Bruce Lee.

Some of us at least had a similar build. Others not so, but undeterred they joined martial arts clubs in their thousands.

Including Mick the Doorman from Annabella`s Bradford!

It would have been impossible to mistake him for Bruce. He was short, definitely not built for speed, with long thinning blonde hair, sideburns, and a broad Yorkshire accent.

But what he lacked in appearance- he gained in enthusiasm, especially for his “roundhouse kick”.

Annabella`s was a peaceful and easy to manage club, with its entrance next the Mecca Silver Blades ice rink, and Mick and his warriors were often sent there to help out.

It was during one of these moments that we witnessed Mick`s spectacular roundhouse kick.

Mick`s opponent was twice his size, and very strong, but was uncertain what was going to happen next, as Mick issued an amazing selection of squeaks,  yips and spectacular arm movements.

Then suddenly Mick took a blow to the ear and stumbled.

Time for the secret weapon.

The amazing roundhouse kick.

And it really was amazing.

Poor Mick shot up into the air, did half a back flip, missed his target completely, and landed breathless, flat on his back.

To add to his humiliation he had banged his head, split his trousers and lost his shoe.

Credit to Mick – he stopped the trouble immediately.

Just like Bruce Lee!

Mecca Dance Halls and Managers from Summer 1961

We thought you would like to see a list of the Mecca Dance Halls and Managers from Summer 1961.

Clearly there are many town and cities not mentioned – such as Bristol, Birmingham, Glasgow, and many many others, but perhaps there is a clue in the number of planned openings highlighted in the list below.

Basildon Locarno – Town Centre – Manager     M Green

Belfast Plaza – Chichester Street – Manager    D R Clark  – Phone Belfast 25294

Blackburn Locarno – St Peter Street – Manager B Gee – Phone Blakewater 85538

Bolton Palais – Bridge Street – Manager W. McLeish – Phone Bolton 1451

Bradford Locarno – Manningham Lane – Manager Alan Boyce     (Opening 9th September 1961)

Burnley Locarno  – Manchester Road – Manager  C Isherwood   (Formerly the Mechanic`s Institute)

Bury   Prince`s Ballroom – Bolton Street – Manager L Byron – Phone Bury 1705

Coventry Locarno – Smithford Way – Manager R Bloxham – Phone Coventry 24570

Derby Locarno – Babington Lane – Manager A Ferris – Phone Derby 41441

Edinburgh Palais – Fountainbridge – Manager G Knowles – Phone Fountainbridge 7427

Hull Locarno – Ferensway – Manager J Munro       ( Opening 16th September 1961)

Ilford Palais – High Road – Manager B Foster – Phone Ilford 3128

Leeds Locarno – County Arcade – Manager J Savile – Phone Leeds 31046/7

Leicester Palais – Humberstone Gate – Manager G Pickavant – Phone 69967

Liverpool Grafton Rooms – West Derby Road – Manager T Reid – Phone Anfield 3928

London Lyceum – Wellington Street, The Strand – Manager D Preedy – Phone Temple Bar 3715

London Carlton Rooms – 140 Maida Vale, W 9 – Manager J H Richardson – Phone Maida Vale 5289

London Empire Rooms – Tottenham Court Road – Manager C Self – Phone Euston 4173

Manchester Plaza – Oxford Road – Manager P Wild – Phone Central 7441

Newcastle upon Tyne  The Mayfair – (Planned for opening during October 1961)

Norwich  Sampson and Hercules Ballroom – Tombland – Manager R V Shackell – Phone Norwich 21541

Norwich Norwood Rooms – Aylsham Road – Manager G Barbour – Phone Norwich 46751

Nottingham Sherwood Rooms – Greyfriar Gate – Manager N F Kemp – Phone Nottingham 50555

Nottingham Locarno – St Anns Well Road – Manager G Lloyd – Phone Nottingham 44354

Rochdale Carlton – Great George Street –  – Manager E Mills – Phone Rochdale 3347

Sale Locarno – Washway Road – Manager J Goodings – Phone Sale 1508

Sale Embassy Rooms – Washway Road – Manager H Burnett – Phone Sale 7522

Sheffield Locarno – London Road – Manager M S Proctor – Phone Sheffield 22586

Stevenage Locarno – Manager B A Elmer-Smith   (Opening September/October 1961)

Wakefield Locarno – Southgate – Manager R Keith – Phone Wakefield 6515/6

Miss World, Georgie Best and me

The licensing sergeant raced up the stairs to my office waving a copy of the local newspaper, as he announced – “There is a plot to kidnap Miss World when she comes to your club next week. Someone has leaked the story to The Telegraph and Argus”.

The year was 1974. The beautiful Marjorie Wallace was Miss World, and I had moved to Bradford to manage my first nightclub. It was also the era of nightclub managers` dreams. Bradford police were wonderful to work with; Rod Stewart, David Bowie and Mott the Hoople were chart royalty, Radio Luxemburg and Radio One DJs were guaranteed club-fillers, and anyone misbehaving was threatened  with having to stay behind and listen again to Paper Lace`s “Billy Don`t be a Hero”.

The kidnap threat seemed to have come from a group of students by way of hearsay, but the Bradford boys in blue were not taking any chances. They were also very excited about meeting her.

On the night of her visit Little Horton Lane was filled with a gentle waft of testosterone and aftershave, as we posed to attention amid a crackle of police radio updates and instructions.

Then, right on cue, Miss World`s motorcade glided up to the club amid a galaxy of flashing blue lights and smiling police officers. She looked radiant as she smiled, waved and signed autographs at the entrance to the club. I introduced myself, and proudly walked her in the small lift leading to the club reception area.

I cannot remember which of us pressed the start button, but will never forget the most unforgettable lift journey of my life. Me – alone with Miss World in a lift.

What happened on that journey stays on that journey, but it was certainly the most memorable journey I have ever had in a lift. So memorable I often think that I was only dreaming!

Once inside the club she posed for photographs, signed more autographs and shook hundreds of hands, and then moved on to her next engagement, with her thoughts probably more focussed on her boyfriend of the time – none other than the legendary George Best – than yours truly.

The journey back down in the lift – you guessed it Miss World and the licensing sergeant – and two of his officers!

But I had the distinct feeling that her farewell wave was more to me than the still smiling police officers lined up outside – well a man can dream.

Marjorie only reigned as Miss World for 104 days, before she was de-throned due to various incidents in her life being out of line with the impeccable image requirement of her title.

But what a girl!

There are a number of other Miss World stories in our in-box, but I think we ought to hold onto them for a while.



All he needed was a Colt 45 and he was Wyatt Earp – Brian Train -One of the greatest managers ever !

I remember starting as a part-time electrician at the Cats Whiskers Leeds, but the lure of the nightlife meant I moved onto being Assistant Manager on a permanent basis, my eyes were open to a different way of life!

Cats closed and I moved on to Tiffany’s with Brian Train. Always saw him as Wyatt Earp, tall,long dark(but neat)hair,just needed the colt 45 to complete the picture!

Again he told me all the stories of Glasgow and the Miss World contests,and a few more! When Mecca bought Cinderella/Rockerfella`s from Pete Stringfellow,I would be sent there to ‘complete’ my education! From there I went on to Tiffany’s in Bradford, that also gave me the opportunity to be part of the Miss world security team,at the Albert Hall and at Grovenor House, this is where Brians storys came to life!

The girls,the TV, the photographers!

The lasting memory is of the whole Mecca team lining up on the stairs of Grovenor house to shake the hand of Eric Morley on the way out(a tradition apparently) and the ‘clinking’ sound every time someone moved up a stair!

Never realised how many bottles would fit in a dress suit!The party continued back at the hotel, but I don’t remember that!

If only todays technology where available back then! Photos anyone?


Little did I realise how the Mecca Ltd legacy of the of the past still meant so much today.

I began working at the Hull Locarno during the last months of its era. It was tired. Something of an anachronism. Bailey`s cabaret club had opened. Presenting ballroom dancing with live bands was becoming less viable, and the Locarno was going to close.

Of course the building was to remain; this time fitted out as Tiffany`s. Still offering a limited amount of ballroom dancing, as well as cabaret, but with the addition of Annabella`s  discotheque. Formerly the Locarno balcony area.

But before all this I would sit for hours on that balcony with the manager, Brian Train, listening to his stories of Glasgow, Belfast, Miss World Competitions, Portsmouth, The Lyceum, and an eclectic mix directors, managers, band leaders, etc . Some tales to make you cringe. Many to which not to be repeated!

It was during one of those conversations that Brian gave me a booklet entitled “Mecca Ltd Party Catering”. I thanked him and kept it safe.

Little did I realise how the Mecca Ltd legacy of the past would mean so much today.

The imagery on the outer pages below may be dated, but the end result was tens of thousands of people each week enjoying a special occasion at their local dancehall

76 Southwark Street London S.E.1 was one of the best known addresses of its day. Managers dreaded being invited there, while every customer had access to it and to Managing Director Eric Morley.

Interesting to note that the opening of the Hull Locarno allowed its future customers time to recover financially from the annual “wakes weeks”.

Listed below are the Mecca dance halls of the early 60s, where you will see that the Leeds Locarno had Jimmy Saville as its manager – I wonder if we will ever know what really happened there!

It is my understanding that at least 11 of the  30 venues/locations are still trading as nightclubs. Many of the managers became the industry legends of the time. Music changed; fashion, technology and customer aspiration moved on, but the heart of the industry remained constant.

Brian would have been just as successful as a manager today, as he had been in the past, for which there is indisputable proof  –

But that`s a story for another day




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