CategoryBurnley

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

 

 

 

Stop Press – Burnley Nightclub Attacked by Space Invading Mushrooms

During late 1997 a number of us went for a night out in Burnley.

First we visited Zanzibar, then Yates`s, The White Swan, Red Lion and finally Sidewalk 53.

Everywhere seemed peaceful and friendly.

We then walked past a police riot van and two patrol cars, and joined a queue of very smart customers waiting to go into Mean Cat Daddies. Another queue had formed at the entrance to Panama Joe`s, and sign explained that you must be 25 to get into Mean Cat Daddies, and 18 for Panama Joes.

A very pretty lady of around 21 years old was stopped from entering the Mean Cats for being too young.

“I want to go to a nightclub; not a crèche,” she replied.

“Ok,” said the door supervisor with big smile; clearly he realised that age and maturity were sometimes a bit staggered.

Have say that the club names did not conjure up any illusions. We think the building may have been “listed”, thus leaving strong images of the old Burnley Coop. But so what!

We were relaxed, and as the queue moved forward,  as we jigged  along to Hanson`s “MmBop” – then Gina G`s “Ooh Aah (Just a Little Bit”).

Mean Cat Daddies room was gorgeous, with expensive looking features,  a central dance floor, and a clientele that suited the room perfectly, all of which resembled a classy nightclub / cocktail bar.

And the club became busier and busier, despite Mean Cats customers being allowed to visit Panama Joes if they wished; but the atmosphere remained friendly.

But gradually the club became even busier and busier, right up to the point of discomfort, then beyond.

Door supervisors from the other bars in the town arrived in great numbers, forcing their way through the crowded club like space invading mushrooms. Scuffles broke out, but still the customers kept arriving. The club no longer felt safe – it was time to go.

Had the DJ played Chumbwamba`s “Tubthumping” the room would have exploded!

We left through the Panama Joes entrance, as a group of youths scuffled with a policeman, and were then bundled into the waiting riot van.

What a shame!

Fabulous club and great customers, all spoilt by overcrowding and –

Space invading mushrooms

 

Image from dailystooge.com

 

 

 

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