Friday and Saturday nights out
Whenever possible, through the 1950s, a pal of mine and I went to The Regent on a Friday or Saturday night. You reached the top floor via a lift and as you looked into the ballroom, the bar was immediately on your right, and just the other side was a standing area where unescorted girls tended to gather. I am ashamed to admit that in those politically incorrect and chauvanistic days, we referred to this as the ‘cowshed’.
The Latin American break
I particularly remember the breaks that the orchestra took when the lights would swing over to a Latin American group playing from a gallery half way up the wall. In those days the average guy reckoned he only needed to have three dances – the waltz, the quickstep or foxtrot, depending on the tempo of the dance and the ‘grope’ normally reserved for the later part of the evening. Therefore, when the Latin American group came on, the floor was abandoned except for a few enthusiasts who welcomed the chance to have space to show off their talents, especially the tango.
Took Mother to a Tea Dance
On broadcasting nights they had to have a guest singer, invariably Rita Williams, as the band’s own singer had not yet received official BBC acceptance. I was also there for a Gracie Fields performance which was as much marked for the security exercised by the doorman as the performance itself. At about the age of seventeen, I took my mother to a tea dance at The Regent for a birthday treat. We had the choice of three ballrooms; Sherry’s in West Street, to which you did not tell your parents you were going, the Aquarium which was very respectable, and The Regent which was ‘The place to be’.