Glasgow Locarno – Miss Scotland – and the Amazing Sounds of 1963

The golden days of Saucheihall  Street – Glasgow Locarno – and the Amazing Sounds of 1963.

We are delighted to have been loaned the picture of the Miss Scotland 1963 contestants on the Locarno stage.


When the catwalk was removed the dance floor filled to capacity to the music of 1963 – including –

The sounds of –

The Beatles – Please Please Me, Twist and Shout, and She loves You – The Bachelors – Charmaine – Kenny Ball – Sukiyak -The Caravelles – You Don’t Have To Be A Baby To Cry – The Crystals – Da Doo Ron Ron and Then He Kissed Me – The Dave Clark Five – Glad All Over –

The Cascades – Rhythm Of The Rain – Billie Davis – Tell Him -Lesley Gore – It’s My Party – Trini Lopez – If I Had A Hammer – The Four Seasons – Big Girls Don’t Cry, Walk Like a Man – The Fourmost – Hello Little Girl – Gerry & The Pacemakers – How Do You Do It ? – I Like It – You’ll Never Walk Alone –

Heinz – Just Like Eddie – Rick Nelson – Fools Rush In – In Dreams –  Falling, and Blue Bayou –   Paul & Paula – Hey Paula – Peter, Paul & Mary – Blowin’ In The Wind – Gene Pitney – Twenty-Four Hours From Tulsa – Brian Poole & The Tremeloes – Twist And Shout – Do You Love Me –

Freddie & The Dreamers – If You Gotta Make A Fool Of Somebody – I`m Telling You Now, and You Were Made For Me – Billy Fury – Like I’ve Never Been Gone – Jet Harris & Tony Meehan – Diamonds – Scarlet O`Hara and Applejack – The Hollies – Searchin’ –  Buddy Holly – Brown Eyed Handsome Man – Frank Ifield – Nobody’s Darlin’ But Mine  and Confessin`- Los Indios Tabajaras – Maria Elena – Big Dee Irwin – Swinging On A Star – 

Johnny Kidd & The Pirates – I’ll Never Get Over You – Kathy Kirby – Dance On, and Secret Love – Billy J. Kramer & The Dakotas – Do You Want To Know A Secret – Steve Lawrence & Eydie Gormé – I Want To Stay Here – Little Eva – Let’s Turkey Trot – Kenny Lynch – You Can Never Stop Me Loving You – Ned Miller – From A Jack To A King – Elvis Presley – One Broken Heart For Sale  and Devil In DisguiseJim Reeves – Welcome To My World – 

Cliff Richard – Summer Holiday – Lucky Lips and All In The Game – Tommy Roe – The Folk Singer, and EverybodyThe Rolling Stones – I Wanna Be Your Man – The Ronettes – Be My Baby – The Rooftop Singers – Walk Right In –  Bobby Rydell – Forget Him – Kyu Sakamoto – Sukiyaki – The Searchers – Sweets For My Sweet, and Sugar And Spice-The Shadows – Foot Tapper – Del Shannon – Little Town Flirt  Dusty Springfield – I Only Want To Be With You – The Springfields – Island Of Dreams –

The Surfaris – Wipe Out – The Tornados – Globetrotter – Bobby Vee – The Night Has A Thousand Eyes –  Andy Williams – Can’t Get Used To Losing You –Mark Wynter – Go Away Little Girl, and It`s Almost Tomorrow – 

Great times. Great music.

Much of which still fills the dance floors of today.




Opening tonight – the new Glasgow Locarno – Friday September 28th 1962

The Locarno Glasgow was one of the world`s most famous ballrooms.

In fact so famous and so popular that it had to be closed, revamped and refurbished during 1962.

£150.000 was spent – which would relate to several millions today – and a fairy tale setting created incorporating thousands of lights, colour changes, and a state of the art lighting consul. And all was ready for the announcement –

Opening  tonight – the new Glasgow Locarno – Friday September 28th 1962 –

With star guests Margo Bryant (Minnie Caldwell from Coronation Street), Stanley Baxter, Rikki Fulton, Jack Radcliffe and Elizabeth Burns – Miss Scotland 1962.

The male management team shown below were Jim Cameron – Eric Benwell ?? – Brian Train and Peter Robinson.

Look at the wall  – yes – it`s famous Mecca flock wallpaper!

We were also loaned the following picture which includes some of the more glamorous members of management!

The revolving stage had been renewed, and a 2.000 square foot Canadian maple dance floor fitted.

A portable soft drinks bar had been added at dance floor level, and a portable alcoholic drinks bar at balcony level, which could be locked away when not used for private functions.

And the legend that was Glasgow Locarno continued for many years – with many thousands of people entertained on that famous stage –

So we thought we would show you the Miss Scotland 1963 stage set.

We thought it looked pretty good!

It was not supposed to be fun and games on Meccas revolving stage!

It was not supposed to be fun and games on Mecca`s revolving stage!

But when you add up to 15 musicians and singers, more than the average amount of alcohol, electric motors with a mind of their own, multiple microphone leads, you can imagine the hilarity, and the confusion.

More than one drummer has rolled off his podium amid a collection of high hats, tom toms and a shower of sheet music. Most band members have stood in a semi-circle – right foot on the stage – the other foot working the periphery as though powering a huge  scooter. Band leaders have fallen off as the result of too much hospitality, and many a prankster has pressed the button to give the audience a view of a departing band, empty back stage, and the returning band – often for up the three revolutions.

The introduction of the revolving stage was a huge move forward in the presentation of live music. While one band, or act, was performing on stage, another would be preparing to take over. Each act would be informed as to when the stage would revolve, and so the show went on, with a turn around tune – usually “Moon River”, played in waltz time by both bands, with the intention of leaving a full dance floor for oncoming band.

The picture below was taken at Glasgow Locarno, and shows one of the best – of the best Mecca managers – Brian Train – with Danny Williams, who had a huge hit with “Moon River” (although it was also a hit for Andy Williams – no relation).


We recently managed to get under the stage at The Ritz Manchester; a former Mecca dance hall, so we took the following picture of some of the rim of the workings of the revolving stage. Unfortunately we could not get to the sea of huge springs underneath the dance floor.

The rim if the revolving stage is to the top of the picture. But this is no ordinary revolving stage. It has accommodated the Joe Loss Orchestra, The Phil Tate Orchestra, and endless star names through the decades.


And no Mecca manager dared to open their club without a full balloon basket, but we searched and searched, but could not find it. I know, it may sound a bit sad – or dated, but the scramble to catch a balloon on a Friday or Saturday night had to be seen to be believed. It was the highlight of many a dancer`s night to take one home.

We did find the cloakroom though, with its antler pegs for three coats per fitting per side, and extra pegs above for hats, which will set hearts a-racing for any member of management who has ever suffered “the night of the great cloakroom disaster”.


It would be wrong to leave The Ritz without showing an image of its former decadence, dating back to the early days when each ballroom had to be more spectacular than the last –


We photographed as much as we could at The Ritz, and are indebted to the management for their hospitality. It is one of the last spectacular ballrooms. Something out of time, but was still trading when we visited – so we left with a final shot of the ceiling…….. it still looked pretty good to us.


At another time we will talk about the time when Lexington Avenue Hull morphed back into the Locarno as the demolition team went about their work, until all that was left was a rectangular groove in the ground – where the dance floor springs had once been, and a balloon basket fixed above. But if you look very closely to the side of the pavement you will see the small black and white mosaic tiles that formed the entrance way – to where one of the best of the best Mecca managers returned to his home town to greeted his customers.

If only we could turn back time


All images were taken by a member of the Locarno Boy team




Gatecrasher Nottingham – Destination Venue And Spectacular Building

Gatecrasher Nottingham is one of the key clubs on the UK dance scene. A destination venue and set in a spectacular building; the former Elite cinema in Parliament Street.

I was involved with the original licensing of the club, which at the time was part of the Big Beat group – operated by Ron McCulloch. The venue was to be called “Media”, but it was certainly not welcomed into the Nottingham with open arms.

George Akin had sent David Elphick up to Glasgow to visit Big Beat`s “The Tunnel” venue, where he had found a very lax approach towards certain illegal substances, and the authorities were most vociferousness in their quest to find anything that could prevent or delay the opening of the Media.

Mike Knight, the manager of Ritzy, gave evidence to the effect that there was insufficient business in the city, but was soon unpstaged by an article from one of the trade magazines – stating the phenomenal attendance levels of his own business. He muttered something about Oxo being advertised on buses, then rested his case. The star of the show has to be David Elphick, who produced damning evidence for the objectors, then was eventually appointed General Manager of Media.

During a break in the hearing Mike announced that the building would make excellent tea rooms.

So back to Saturday night. Clearly George Akin was not adversely affected by the opening of Media, or its transfer over to the Gatecrasher stable. His Rescue Rooms and Rock City are very busy and well managed premises. No loss there  then.

There was a well controlled and smartly dressed queue of people waited to enter Gatecrasher, with Operations Director Adrian Swain overseeing the “meeting and greeting”. Everywhere was clean, tidy and well managed, with an exciting  atmosphere in main room. Everyone was having a great time, this was their destination venue and they were enjoying it to the full.

But there was something niggling me. Clearly many of the original feature in the building are listed, which seemed to get in the way of what the building really needed. Was the layout compromised by the past?

Something just didn`t quite click.

It was as though the spectacular building was somehow getting in the way of a really super atmosphere – especially in the main room, where you effectively look from the rear of the former cinema balcony, to where the DJ area now replaces the screen.

But what should have been the most amazing sight-line was cut in half by what I assume to be additions to the two smaller rooms spreading out from underneath the balcony. Consequently the main room had a large dead area in the centre, but with an absolutely amazing show just that little bit too far away, and as result the former balcony area watched the atmosphere – but was not really part of it.

In some ways it was like watching a fabulous film of a Gatecrasher night.

That said – the Gatecrasher experience is a key element of the Nottingham night life. It is professional and customer friendly. Congratulations to Adrian and his team.

Smiled as I thought about Mike and his tea rooms as I left the building –

He would have needed a hell of a lot of cups and saucers!


Image from Wikipidia

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