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

Dangerous Dave the Cannon Ball Catcher

This happened in I believe Bristol; the club (Baileys?) had been refurbished and was re-opening so a crowd-pulling idea was being sought. After some discussion amongst the club management all traditional ideas were rejected – an act that would reflect the excitement and vibrancy of the new venue was sought. It was at this point that the name of Dangerous Dave the Cannon Ball Catcher came up. The act was very simple – cannon fired a round ball like a shot-put over a distance of about 30 – 40 feet and Dave caught it! Dave regularly performed at shows and fetes throughout the summer and had something of a cult following, he had also never appeared indoors since a large venue was needed to accommodate him, the concept seemed perfect. Dave was duly booked and posters and flyers printed advertising a World Exclusive – the First Ever Indoor Appearance of Dangerous Dave the Cannon Ball Catcher!!

The opening night of the club arrived and the venue was packed with expectant customers. As the time of Dave’s appearance arrived the dance floor was cleared, the cannon – newly washed, scrubbed and polished – was wheeled out and Dave emerged onto the stage with his glamorous assistant Vera. Dave was in his late 40’s, a squat, barrel chested man covered in hair and sporting a huge beer belly had dressed for the occasion in red football shorts so abbreviated that they could have passed for hot pants and a white singlet that looked as if it had last been washed at the beginning of his summer season, a strong waft of body odour accompanying him. Vera was actually his wife, a bleached blonde woman with the cough of an inveterate chain smoker and a complexion to match who wore a red sheath dress which accentuated every roll of fat and sported a split almost to the waist exposing some of the most impressive varicose veins in the West Country. Vera tottered from the stage to the cannon which were situated on the far side of the dance floor whilst Dave positioned himself at the front of the stage at the opposite side to the dj stand and assumed the stance of a goal keeper – he looked like Barbary ape with the evident speed and agility of a striking sloth. Vera lit the taper used to fire the cannon and called “Ready Dave?” With a reply of “Awright moi dear” the scene was set for the World Exclusive – the First Ever Indoor Appearance of Dangerous Dave the Cannon Ball Catcher.

It was at this point that a flaw in the otherwise immaculate plan became evident. No-one had considered that the friction coefficient between grass and cannon’s wheels was rather different from that between the wheels and a highly polished, brand new dance floor. As the cannon fired the recoil spun it through about 15 degrees launching the cannon ball straight at a somewhat startled dj that disappeared cowering behind the dj stand. Dave, belying his appearance, dived across the stage like Peter Shilton on one of his better days and just managed to deflect the cannon ball, breaking 2 of his fingers in the process whilst the crowd at the side of the stage parted like the Red Sea allowing the cannon ball to smash through the very expensive dance floor leaving a 12 inch splintered hole………


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