About Locarno Boy

Welcome to Locarno Boy – where we are as dedicated to the reality of life in the nightclubs of today – as we are of those in days gone by.

The Locarnos were the flagship dancehalls of Mecca Ltd – where Managers were trained in every aspect of ballroom/nightclub management from how to defuse conflict and manage security staff to overseeing dinner dances, stage presentation and much, much more. The key to it all being their own personality and style to find different ways each week to make their club even more interesting.

Sir Alex Ferguson met his wife at Glasgow Locarno. Julie Walters danced at Birmingham Locarno, security was maintained at Bristol Locarno by Darth Vader (David Prowse) and I’m told Edinburgh Locarno by James Bond (Sean Connery). The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Kinks, Led Zeppelin, Jethro Tull, Cream. Sex Pistols, Bay City Rollers etc. etc – all appeared at Mecca venues.

The BBC televised “Come Dancing” from Mecca venues, while the Miss World competition showed Mecca flagship premises such as Hammersmith Palais, The Empire Leicester Square, and The Lyceum ballroom.

Locarno Boy aims to record the truth about life in the nightclub industry; to link up with as many people who “were there at the time” as possible and to create an accurate record.

I’ve got personal stories from Hull, Derby, York, Leeds, Manchester, Stoke on Trent, Nottingham and Liverpool. Tales from the large cabaret clubs, ballrooms, niche discotheques, super-clubs and student gigs in my inbox; they’ll all be up soon.

We’re looking for your comments and stories – you may want to tell us why you enjoyed a particular night club – or hated it, and all names are optional.

You know how to help!



  1. Recalled nights at Tiffanys Piccadilly c 1976. Gulliver People, Tuxedo dressed bouncers. expensive drinks. Lots of cool birds there then. For some reason they all wanted a Barcardi and Coke . They supped it down then went off to find another mug punter. Some bird called Kay said she only went out with fellas who showed her a
    good time. told her will get her a great place to eat and book a prime window seat.
    Asked where said is a surprise so we left the joint and took her to the Wimpy Bar on Picadilly she went ape. said love its a window seat aint it. She said your a prick but loved the kingsize and chips. At least I shagged her the next week. Kay and myself went out for a few months when she found a guy who bought her goodies like a Wendy Burger ..a hard life was it not then.

  2. Funny Cafe De Paris not mentioned much. Was Mecca mainly oldies dancing. But from about 1979 to say 1992 was a dance hall best nights Sats witha DJ and the Johnny Joseph band later White Magic. Lots of 20 30 40s and 50s ages packed with women. You came in checked in your coat went to the awful toilets checked your self in mirrors then went down the stairs either side of the stage . Into the pompadour bar behind the stage and walked around the ground then upstairs sat on the balcony eyeing the girls. New Years Eve was best always got a shag after picking up a woman about 9pm a few drinks slow dances and after the chimes at Midnight off you would go. I recall taking a blonde home LISA ( not real name ) said her old man was a casino worker in Piccadilly all night took me to Ealing in my car shagged her a few times for a few weeks until her old man came home sick earlier I ran to my car heard him shouting at her!! Never saw at Cafe. Once cafe closed to become the hip place a Cafe society began in Leicester Place but shut down soon after. My Mecca career spanned 1965-1996 via Empire Hammy Palais Tiffanys Mayfair/Royal Cafe De Paris lots of good times got married from tiffs divorced shagged my self silly. Manager of Cafe was Joe Becket on the take,

  3. Funny recalling days at Empire Ballrooms on Leicester Sq c 1966. Them days Michael Caine was the big thing Ipress File black specs wavy hair. I had similar hair wavy and sandy bought same specs and went about with a fake Caine accent which was accurate was told. Not a lotta people know that .!! Anyway met this half tipsy girl and asked for a dance. Had on my regulation smart 50 guinea !! Tonik suit Brut and all.
    After a nice slow dance she looked up at me..am 6.3 to her 5 something!! She said via tipsy not drunk state,,,I know you your Michael Caine so of course I was in character
    ASAP said allo darlin not a lotta people know that and having a night off from filming Funeral in Berlin !! I believed it myself. SO she pulled me in nice and close
    giving me the **** !!! Her buddy ( the ugly one ) came over to take my new pal home. Girl said no this is Michael Caine !! Buddy looked at me..said you shite artist your no more Caine than I am Monroe..Said your right there darlin she went ape.
    Said will see your buddy gets home but am Mr Caine and with that we danced away.

    Anyway nearing the end of the night thinking about the night to come for my alter ego..she said taking me home darlin!! Yeah why not. Where you live…near Windsor
    whattttt!! Long way from Mile End and had no car. Said sorry love filming early…she went ape..buddy still there and she went home with buddy..who told me would have me arrested by the cops anyway. Bird was also livid but wanted to kiss me saying your wonderful your marvelous you are Michael Caine. All good following week she was there again sober came up to me says so who are you tonite arseole !!Like Tonight Mathew!! said sorry bout last week am really Long John Baldry and ran LOL happy days.

  4. Roger Duffett

    June 12, 2017 at 3:36 pm

    When I was a lad in the fifties I went to the Embassy ballroom Portsmouth with my mates to drink and listen to the Gene Mayo band. We became friendly with Gene and were sorry to see leave Portsmouth for the bright lights of Nottingham. A little later we decided to go to Nottingham to see the band once more. I had just passed my driving test and borrowed my dads car and off the four of us went. We made this trip with very little spare cash in our pockets and we planned to sleep in the car. When we met Gene and told him of our sleeping arrangements he was horrified particularly as it was very cold and arranged with the caretaker for us to sleep on the Ladies powder room floor, which we did for two nights. As someone has said Gene was a lovely fella.

  5. Funny at the Empire Hammy Palais and Tiffs in the 1970s etc. You asked a girl to dance offered drink!!bad move way was it always a Barcardi and Coke please or with one it was a glass of champagne or Champers as she out it ONE dance then downed the glass and dumped you talk about idiots. One bird a regular at the Empire c 1976 took you on the dance floor gave you on a slow dance a big thrill by dancing close rubbing your wotsit and the she had this habit of kneeing you in the crotch are name was Mercedes. She did this with all the guys. Asked her why once I stopped crying!! says she liked it!!! Nut case offered a great time for a few drinks and a lift home to Windsor right clear off. All the regular birds sat along the wall there always refusing dances asked one old dog said just one quick dance then like doing a big favour told her sorry luv only do slow ones LOL.
    Always a laugh with our Tonik suits and sharp talking. Great days

  6. Ray here from a very cold -18c Toronto. Going back to my 2013 comments I was engaged to a girl called Sallie in 1967 met her at Empire Leic Sq broke it off met Denise 1969 same place got engaged and married 1970 divorced 1973.Not good. A woman called Doreen must have been 35 to my 17 at Empire used to sit on the stairs at the Empire seducing young fellas a good looking woman but a filthy mouth lived in Stamford Hill must be in her 80s now. During 173-1979 with mates met lots of girls the regulars of course tourists as well. Picking em up buying pricy drinks then getting dumped !! We then graduated to Tiffanys Piccadilly and Café de Paris where in 1980 it was a younger crowd as well as oldies Johnny joseph band and then White Magic. Met a nice lady called Susan who was a bit nutty and after 10 years being on and off with her I retired from Mecca and as luck would have it met a Canadian on holiday from Toronto we hit it off and emigrated to Canada many years ago. now retired living a nice life. The Mecca years on Saturday nights were great Ken Mack Tony Evans Migil 5 Bob miller Don Lang and the Boys etc etc all good fun.The girls messed us about and we them but never in malice.

  7. Hello to anyone who may remember me from the 60s and 70s!

    I would like to track down an old pal from my Yorkshire days. John Holton, if you`re out there- please get in touch.

    Tel: 0115 8411499

    Just came across your notes on the Locarno Boy site… Gene was a very well known and popular bandleader on the Mecca circuit for many years and had some of the finest and top musicians in the country play for him……In the early seventies as a young guy I was very proud to be given the opportunity to join his band towards the end of his run at The Locarno Hull,followed by a couple of weeks at Bristol and finally playing for over a year at The Top of the World Ballroom in Stafford.
    Gene was a very debonair gentleman with a warm friendly personality who led his bands on drums superbly.I spent many happy hours on stage and in some of the local hostelries with him during the Band breaks. Playing with the Gene Mayo Orchestra was arguably one of the happiest times of my musical career, only wish I could turn the clock back. I still keep in touch on F/B with another member of the band from all those years ago.
    Sorry it took three years to find this but it was great to relive my many weeks with your Grandad…He was/is a great guy ,one of the best….

  9. I worked for Mecca for several years, and worked with a lot of great people and managers, such as,Alan Boyce, Geoff Sleight, and John Holton; myself and my brother both worked the doors and helped out up and down the country.

    I am still involved with security after all these years, but I do not forget my grounding with Mecca, and the help I received, “thank you” to you all.

    Other names of note are Roger wild, Joe Whaley and of course my Brother Dave Small.

    Thanks thanks for the Locarno Boy format,it is sometimes good to remember the old days.

  10. I sang at various mecca ballrooms. From 1970-77 I married band leader Mike Allen it was the best years of my life. When musicians only had there tools and no voice boxes excetera excetera.!!!!our mikes were all we needed. Because we used voice control.

  11. Fraser Cameron

    May 26, 2014 at 8:14 am

    Hi there

    I am trying to contact Dave Brindle. He’s owe me a pint! Brindle if you’re out there get in touch.


  12. I started work at Nottingham Locarno 1960 went to the Sherwood Rooms 1964 and back to lacarno when it changed to bingo Left Mecca Bingo 5 years ago when I retired.I worked with some great people over the years.

  13. I originally worked for the Rank Organisation but after being transferred to Watford Top Rank Suite I found the southern circuit too expensive.
    I applied for a trainee manager position with Baileys and was given a position at La Ronde Billingham.I did a few days relief at Stockton and eventually on the advice of Stan Fazey was transferred to Baileys in Sheffield.
    I did 3 years there and eventually finished up managing LDV Birmingham.
    It was here that I met up again with Tony Spragg who managed Bloomers in Yardley and he eventually became area manager.
    I have lots of stories I could to you all if you are interested.

    Locarno Boy comment

    Mike we are interested – all stories welcome!

  14. great to see the mecca again we had great times with the graham warner band which I was lucky enough to sing with come dancing etc was fantastic tunes that were for dancing to hooray bye for now

  15. Was very interested to read some comments here, I used to work at the Hammersmith Palais,1967-71 Joe Loss, Migil 5, Ray McVay,Ken Mackintosh etc. Used to receive 4-00 per night less tax and NI stamps. Remembering the revolving stage, it was the allotted “bouncer” task to revolve the stage manually, If anyone knows Andy O,Don B.Dennis L(aqua de silva), Andy W,Derick(used to remove his wig before “it was`off!), Barry,Tex,Roger,Mick S(supervisors). Or anybody working there during the time, I would like o hear from them. vince@casadometal.com

  16. Some great memories being shared here guys.

    A long shot but does anyone have any memories of Samantha’s club in Stockport during the 70s?

  17. I am 65 live in Toronto but in the 60s and 70s we and buddys haunted Tiffanys London on Picadilly Empire Ball Room café de Paris Hammy Palais Tottenham Mayfair looking for the girls sharp suited in Tonik Mohair slow dancing hoping for another date and the bouncers thrwing us out. Great days.

  18. The old mecca days! I started DJing in the ice ring in sheffield
    them moved up to Samanthas,then worked at Tiffanys and Crazy Dasiy (the only mecca club to play punk)
    then moved over to EMI soon to become FLC finished with FLC in 2005ish my last gig was Club Wow in sheffeild.
    I have now gone back to my first love Northern Soul run and DJ in yorkshire! will put a few storys on later

  19. Hi,
    my grandad was Gene Mayo.
    He ran the Gene Mayo orchestra in many different ballrooms.
    I just wondered if anybody had any information or stories about his time in Lecarno.

  20. Margaret griffiths

    February 1, 2013 at 6:16 pm

    I was a singer at Newcastle underlyme1975 77 with tony ravel band. Best years of my life. I ended up marrying mike Allen a well known big band leader that did at least 2 come dancing live on telly. Would love to here from any who knew us

  21. Love the site.

    I am glad I came upon it as my father is the late Ken Smith whom you wrote a wonderful article about.

    Thanks for the article. It brought a smile to my face. Let me know if I can help with anything.

  22. Hi Dick,
    What a great site I will help as much as I can
    Henry Quinn

  23. It was great fun working at Top of the World Stafford in the 1970s. Tony Marshall was the manager and Gordon James was the band leader. People came from miles around, and we had enormous queues of people waiting to get into the building. Tony moved up to be area manager and I think it was Dave Edwards who took over. Unfortunately the club changed for the worse when the coach parties began coming from Wolverhampton. Great times though.

  24. stokes, blackburn

    March 8, 2012 at 3:36 pm

    I met my future husband at the Mecca Ballroom Blackburn on the 20th. July 1964. The four seasons record was playing Rag Doll.We were there during the Blackburn holidays. We used to meet up on a Monday evening and ‘Dance the night away’ We celebrated our Ruby Wedding last year. A group of us saw the Four Tops when they sang at The Cavendish Club in Blackburn. We also enjoyed dancing on the glazed colourful floor in the Latino Lounge. We do not go out to clubs now, but we fondly remember times spent with our friends all those years ago at the Mecca and Cavendish Club.


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