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 –
Then to add the extras –
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.