Hastings Pier 50 years ago and shock, no more single dancing! by Andre Martin


Andre Palfrey-martin collection

Andre Martin… Here we are again, its Saturday Night – 7th November 1964, and with Halloween and Bonfire Night now over, before we know it will be Christmas. So what on offer tonight in the Happy Ballroom and Longest Bar in town – NOTHING, yes that is correct, the management of the Pier have decided that the current vogue of single dancing, which has been the mainstay of the entertainment in the Ballroom for many years, has had its day, and togetherness dancing is what the patrons have been asking to bring back to the Ballroom. And even the mid week Twist Sessions have been cancelled.
The management have made their decisions, and will be working on new décor and facilities aimed at having the venue back in operation by the end of the month – so all I can say is watch this space, it would seem then that last week’s show with Tony River and the Castaways was to be the last – we will have to see.
Where the young people to find their entertainment and music in the coming weeks, as you know we had a following in the town on ITV of Friday Night Was Ready Steady Go, and this week’s schedule had a Beach Boys Special, Martha and The Vandellas – “Heatway” & “Dancing in the Street” the Fourmost – “ Baby I need your Lovin” and a regular on Friday Night – Dusty with “Losing You” and quick appearance from the US of Gene Pitney to promote “ I’m Gonna Be Strong” plus Eden Kayne, The Plebs & Johnny Tillotson – so that would have been a good start to the weekend.
The Witch Doctor was riding high with a good programme and the knowledge that they were winning the young people from the Pier, but enough about that. On The Saturday Night – G>T>Phillips and The Stormville Shakers + Annette & The Keymen. Sunday from the East [end of London] The Brabicans with Prince Khan. Wednesday saw The Showtimers making their first appearance, and Friday night was Linda Lane and The Sinners. So another good week all-round. For those who tuned into the dear old BBC – Saturday Club 10.00am The Light Programme – Gene Pitney, Kenny Ball, Nashville Teens, Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders, Heinz & The Wildboys, Arthur Greenslade & The Gee Men, and in the hot seat – Brian Matthews. Later in the afternoon Saturday Swings 2.00pm –Freddie & The Dreaamers, Dickie Valentine, Elaine Delmar, Georgie Fame & The Blueflames, The Seekers, The Vicounts, Julie Jones, and the group that had been on Hastings Pier only 7 days previous – Tony Rivers and The Castaways – it’s a small world. Holding the show together was Don Wardell. There was no East Beat on Sunday, because of the Remembrance Broadcast from the Cenotaph, however there was a special 6 way family favourite starting at noon on that day – 1.00pm in Germany, and presenters on BFBS – [London]Jean Metcalfe [Cologne]Bill Crozier [Cyprus] Jean Challis [Aden] Kay Donelly [Nairobi Denis Smith [Tripoli]Peter Hunter. Those were the days. Not much to report on TV – BBC had Juke Box Jury on Saturday with David Jacobs – panel Rolf Harris, Portland Mason, Gene Pitney and Margaret Streeter. Later that eveing at 9.00pm Ther Bill Cotton Band Show with Lonnie D, Pet Clarke, Val Doonican
That was the week, 50 years ago !and the latest instalment of the History of the Happy Ballroom, Hastings Pier. Now I think about it, I am sure that like many I went to the Rye Bonfire Celebrations on that Saturdays Night, which was held in the spirit of “ Health and Safety – what’s that? “ it was a little hairy to say the least.            Andre Martin

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