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