All I wanted to do was be a Teddy Boy
By the time I was 17, I was a fully-fledged Teddy Boy, with pegged trousers, draped jackets with rounded lapels, bootlace tie, dog toothed with black lapels, waistcoat and brothel creepers and luminous green or pink socks. We thought we looked the business, but a lot of people didn’t like us or what we stood for. God knows what it was, because all I wanted to do was be a Teddy Boy! There were actually cardboard cut-outs of a Teddy Boy outside various places with a sign ‘NO EDWARDIAN DRESS ALLOWED’. The Court School of Dancing (next to the Astoria cinema) and the Allen Dean Dance Studio (Opposite the Astoria) had these signs, as did several others. We never frequented these places anyway because we considered them ‘square’.
At this time I was working for a small plumbing and building firm in Oxford Place, just off London Road. If you stood outside the door you could see Timothy White’s the chemists. I used to wave and flirt with a lovely looking girl from Moulsecoomb. I won’t tell you her name, but if she ever gets to read this she will know who I mean!
A whole lot of shakin’ going on
Behind London Road was a hall called St Bart’s. Every Friday they held a dance there, playing records and selling soft drinks. It was really good because you got a lot of Bobby soxers (girls with ponytails, loose dresses and ankle socks) there who could really dance because they had flared skirts and flat shoes. The other type of girl wore tight skirts and sweaters and high heels. Although they were very nice to look at, their movements for rock and roll were limited.
There was a similar type of dance hall on the Lewes Road at Moulsecoomb Hall, opposite The Avenue. They to, played records but were more organised. The people who ran it had a big list of records available pinned on the wall. For 1d (1/2p) you could choose from the list and they’d play it. I remember at the time the most played records were High School confidential, Whole Lot of Shakin’ Going On, both by Jerry Lee Lewis, Rollover Beethoven, by Chuck Berry and Flip Flop and Bop (I don’t know the artist). These records were fast and great to jive to. Slow records were danced to The Creep.
A really good time
Most teenage boys in the 50s either worked in the building industry, factories and shops. Most girls worked in clothing of perfume factories, Allen West or shops.
In my honest opinion, most of my generation were so naïve, but wanted to be. You went to work, paid your Mum and had a great time in between. You didn’t have a car, so if you didn’t have a motorbike you took the bus or walked everywhere. That was why you got around the town so much. That is probably why I have such vivid memories of Brighton. I had good friends, honest enemies and above all, a really good time.