TagPlaza Ballroom

Evelyn began working at the Plaza Ballroom around 1960

Evelyn began working at the Plaza Ballroom around 1960, for local businessman John Dosser. It had no bars, was open until 1am on Fridays and Saturdays, and had music for dancing from a big band and a group. Ballroom dancing was the main entertainment, but “jiving” was allowed during the first hour, and the final half hour.

But times were changing, as the one hour lunchtime DJ sets became more popular. Belfast also had a premise called “The Blouse Club”, which was ladies only; although men were allowed to enter providing they were invited by a lady.

During 1961 Evelyn moved to Glasgow Locarno, where she met, and in 1964, married Brian Train. Which, in one way, presented quite a problem; Mecca Dancing would not let a husband and wife team work together in the same premises. To further complicate matters, Brian was appointed General Manager of the Plaza Belfast. The salary was thirty five pounds per week plus bonus, plus a company house and a company car. So Evelyn resigned from Mecca Ltd.

Brian`s first move was to explain to the police how he was going to resolve a disorder problem. The clientele at the Plaza was becoming young which discouraged the ballroom dancers; the police did help and the business began to flourish, although the local newspaper had to have its say –

“It`s a quiet life in city ballrooms

BRIAN TRAIN had a private chuckle when he read a resident magistrates outburst against dance hall rowdyism in Belfast

Mr Bradley McCall QC RM said he was getting very tired of trouble outside the ballrooms. He sympathised with the attendants and exonerated management from blame.

But Yorkshire born Mr Train had this to say about dancing matters in the city:

“They are the best I have seen anywhere. Actually, Belfast ballrooms are quiet and peaceful after some I have managed in Glasgow and Hull.

Now, of course we employ bouncers – name me one dancehall that doesn`t.

But people who come along to the Plaza – and to many other ballrooms- are respectable and well behaved.

Why, the other night we had Germans, Americans and Belfast people mixing freely and happily

Any trouble that does blow up from time to time usually has a girl at the bottom of it.”

 

Many of the previous problems at the Plaza had been caused by the younger people, so after assessing his options, Brian set about finding a solution by way of building up an older clientele –

Plaza Flier

Then to add the extras –

Plaza Stage Shot of Pipe Band

Brian was asked to be the Vice President of the City of Belfast Girl Pipers, but he never took up the offer.

And there is nothing wrong with a little extra publicity – especially when you are paid for it

Promotion eventually drew Brian away from Belfast, and back to Glasgow, which was sad in many ways. It is my home city, and we were both very happy there.

But I think that the idea of a new challenge was just too strong for us.

Belfast Plaza – Televised BBC Come Dancing – Weekly Policy – and more beauty contestants

We are grateful for the loan, and use, a rare photographs from the Mecca Dancing days, including some from the Plaza Ballroom Belfast. In addition we have a number of invitations and some copies of advertising.

Please note that we have not been able to trace the original photographers, nor the source of the newspaper article quoted – so please contact us if you can help.

The invitation below is self explanatory, and brings back memories of the wonderful Brian Train, who explained that the audience  for BBC`s “Come Dancing” was made up of people who never frequented the Plaza, or the Locarnos, other than when there was the possibility of being seen on TV.

(Similar comments have been made of the congregations for BBC`s “Songs of Praise”.

 

To support this invitation we also have an undated and press cutting which reads as follows –

ULSTER DANCERS PREPARE FOR BIG TEST

By Robert Burnett

January 25 – that is the date when Northern Ireland will again put its dancing talent to the test.

“Now after a couple of weeks away from the grind of competitive dancing during the Christmas and New Year festive season, team members are hard at practice ironing out the rough edges for their second round television “come Dancing” contest against Wales.

Although there was jubilation when the Ulster dancers romped home against the East of England at the Plaza Ballroom, the experts see Wales as a  much stiffer opposition.

With this is in mind team members are improving on style, appearance and technique, revising routine and brushing up on entrances and exits.

Barring unexpected illnesses, or last minute withdrawals, it is expected that the same team will represent Northern Ireland as that which scraped home 56-54 against the East of England last month.

Plaza manager, Mr Brian Train, commented: “Northern Ireland team members more than make up for their lack of television experience with their great enthusiasm and will to succeed.”

The same article continued –

“This month will certainly be a busy month for ballroom dancers.

On Wednesday, January 20, their will be a gala night at the 69 Club, with the staging of the Northern Ireland area finals of the “News of the World” novice trophy and the Sammy Osborne amateur championship.

The “News of the World” trophy will bring to the floor the star ballroom dancers of the tomorrow.

It is Britain`s top novice competition with heats being staged during the summer months at Butlin`s Holiday camps.

The grand final will be held in the Royal Albert Hall, London, early next month.”

The article then moves to the Plaza Ballroom policy towards the future –

“The teenage beat.

Now to move from the more serious dancing to the popular teenage beat.

Local beat groups with an eye for the money spinning hit parade are given an opportunity of taking the first step of the ladder of success with an open competition at the Plaza.

The competition, organised by Plaza manager, Brian Train, got under way this week, and it is expected to run for the next six weeks.

There will be an all-star final, with the six heat winners competing against each other for the £25 top prize and a possible television audition.

Said Mr Train: “There is a great music talent in the Belfast area. What is needed is an opportunity for the local groups to display their talent to the public.”

While talking about the Plaza, it is interesting to note that it is gradually changing its “teenage” image, built up in recent years.

Now a big effort is being made to cater for all age groups – from school children to adult couples.

Tuesday, Friday and Saturday are set aside for the adult dancing: the beat happy teenagers take to the floor on Sunday, Monday and Thursday: and there is a pop record session on Saturday afternoons for children under 13.”

Note how true Brian Train`s words were regarding the local talent from in and around Belfast – with amazing artists such as – Ruby Murray – Gary Moore – The Undertones – Stiff Little Fingers – Snow Patrol – Van Morrison – Joe Sumner – and so many more talented entertainers.

Anyone visiting Belfast must do the “Music Tour” – also the amazing “Oh Yeah” music centre.

 

Belfast also loved its beauty competitions, but unfortunately we don`t have a name for this lady –

 

But we do for Cynthea Mateen of Rodden`s Park, Castlereagh, Belfast 5 – telephone number 65xxx Whoops!

Too much information!

 

Assistant Manager Peter Robinson looks to be doing OK for himself!

 

But not as well as General Manager Brian Train!!!

 

We also have the following picture which we assume to be of talent competition winners – we see that the prize is £50 on the poster – but who are these ladies?

 

We have more Belfast pictures and stories for you, but have saved them for another day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Miss Ireland 1965 – and now we know why there are so many pretty girls at El Divino!

We have been loaned this photograph of Miss Ireland 1965 – and now we know why there are so many pretty girls at El Divino! It`s in the genes!

Miss World was won by Lesley Langley of the United Kingdom in 1965. The final was held at Mecca`s Lyceum Ballroom in London. Miss Ireland – Gladys Anne Walker was the second runner up.  Michael Aspel was the compere, and the final was televised live by the BBC.

Sorry we do not know the names of the other two girls – but we are absolutely certain of one thing though. They are lovely.

Unfortunately we cannot credit the photographer. The rear of the image does not have a record.

Additional information from Wikipidia

 

The thumbnail image is of the winner Lesley Langley from tipsoninterview.in

 

£200 per year on clothes, and working 25 hours a week as a DJ at Meccas Belfast Plaza

The following article has just been handed to Locarno Boy, telling us about a guy spending £200 per year on clothes, and working 25 hours a week as a DJ at Mecca`s Belfast Plaza. It was an article called “The Groove – there`s more than a flip side to dee-jay Dino” – we are not sure of the publication or date – which we assume to be the early 60s. – It reads as follows –

Dino Martin straightened his blue smoking jacket, reassuringly fingered the cravat that peeped from beneath a tab collar, carefully crossed one checked trouser leg over the other, gazed abstractly at one dangling pig skin boot – and talked.

He talked about his clothes, which are a very important part of his life.

“I suppose I would spend about £200 a year on them,” he said. “But the I have to wear all the latest styles all the time.”

“You have to read a lot, and study the market, so that you can predict what is coming next. I mean, I think the coming thing is the reefer jacket which used to be around in the 20s. There will also be the tight trousers with the bell bottoms .”

Twenty year old Dino is the only full time disc jockey in Belfast. He spins the records at the Plaza Ballroom for 25 hours every week – at lunchtime as well as evening.

On stage he is witty, irrepressible; off stage he becomes serious and thoughtful.

His ambition is to be a serious actor.

“I`m joining an amateur dramatic company in Belfast, and hope to do a bit of acting next winter.”

His interests are varied.

“I`m fond of fishing and I do quite a bit of horse riding down at Templepatrick.”

His tastes tend towards the expensive.

“I must confess I`m fond of good restaurants – and I`ve learnt how to select wines.”

Dino Martin, who comes from Linden Street Belfast, first planned to become a drummer. He joined an English group but that career ended two years ago when he was pulled off the stage during a dance and broke his arm.

We hope Dino fulfilled his dreams.

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