The Happy Ballroom & more mid February 1966 by Andre Martin

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Andre Palfrey-martin collection

The weeks move on and it’s now mid February 1966, and for many it’s that time of the year to look toward to Valentines Night! In the build up to that event, one would have expected something from the Pier Ballroom, or at least the Pier – but nothing, perhaps they have something up their sleeve, and it’s going to make a sudden appearance a little later – we will have to see. [Just for once I would love to be able to start off the weekly column with some GOOD NEWS from 50 years ago, about this iconic building in the town].  In the line up to the weekend, Friday starts as ever with that most popular television programme for the teenagers – Ready Steady Go, and this Friday [11 February 1966] this line up includes The Animals “Inside Looking Out” & “Mandie”: Len Barry “ Like a Baby” : the Breakaway : The Action & James Brown as a special guest from America, even Cathy & Keith did not really get into any sort of Valentines mood.
The Witch Doctor, starts a busy weekend, with this Saturday night Thee Washington DCs featuring Johnny Cannon, ably supported by The Defenders, all the usual services, DJ and Records with Johnny Mann, bar open to 11.00pm and for the princely sum of 6/- [30 pieces of the new decimal currency] On Sunday afternoon, it would have been Afternoon Spin all for 1/6d and that would allowed you to tuned in at home and have a quick Sunday Lunch with 2 Way family Favourites on the Light Programme and get down to the Club in the afternoon. On Monday it was Valentines Night and here the Witch Doctor had something special – The [British] BIRDS not to be mistakes for the [US} Byrds. Based in west London they had developed a musical description that was a Motown-style group. A founder member of this group and still with them in February 1966 was Ronnie Wood. The advertising tag for this evening the local press was “ fly in and see – the Birds” 7.30pm-11.00pm and all for 5/6d. The remainder of the week was as usual Tuesday Big Record Session – possibly with Trevor Ollive and “You Know Who “ on Thursday, the “Muscles Maxted Show” from Maidstone. A whole evening of confusion & mayhem for “half –a-dollar” or since Monday twelve and a half new pence.
I said that the whole of the Marine Court was busy that night, in the Dolphin Ballroom; the Hastings College Students had a St Valentines Night Dance with The Gordon Rider Orchestra and cabaret The Trendsetters. It was unusual for a college night, late bar till 1.00am, 7/6d on the night and 6/- in advance. And if I recall the next day we started our lessons as usual at 9.00am – Tuesday period 1 for me, I think was Economic History A2 with Mr Charlie Welstead.  That weekend on the BBC was again not really altered to tie in with Valentines – Saturday on the Light Programme would have meant, “Saturday Club” with Brian Matthew, this week’s guests Gerry & The Pacemakers, the Four Pennies, Lulu, Chris Farlowe & The Thunderbirds and Unit 4 plus 2. Lunchtime would have given us the Jack Jacksons “Record Roundabout” Later in the day you have had “Saturday Band Stand” with Crossley’s Carpet Works Band from Lancashire, at 4.30pm “Open House” with Desmond Carrington in control of the decks. In the early evening it was “Jazz Beat” with John Mayell & his Blues Breakers and Dickie Pride and The Sideswingers. The rest of the evening had a strong leaning to “The Old Time Days” in one form or another.
Sunday on the Light would have given the listeners the opportunity to hear – 10.30 “Easy Beat” with Keith Fordyce and The Johnny Howard Band plus records, “Two Way Family Favorites” was just that, and London Cologne linkup between UK and BAOR families and Friends.[If my experiences of the forces is anything to go on, they would most certainly celebrated Valentines Night – and perhaps the whole week] In that afternoon, the usual schedule would have included Al Read, Jimmy Clitheroe, Joe Brown & The Bruveers. 4.00pm Fluf would have been along with “Pick of the Pops”, and after this Peter Haigh with “Movie Go Round”, and this week the films would have included “The Spy that Came in from the cold” Richard Burton, Claire Bloom & Oskar Werner and “10 Little Niggers” Hugh Obrien and Shirley Eaton.
BBC TV on Saturday, Grandstand with the international Rugby England v Ireland, Dr Who, Juke Box Jury, and with this week’s guests Pete Murray, Lulu, Eddy Arnold and Peter Potter with Chairman David Jacobs. To continue, – Dixon of Dock Green and then – The Saturday Western – “The Last of The Mohicans” – Randolph Scott. At 8.00pm it was the Cathy Kirby Show with Nina & Frederik and Dave Allen. On Sunday some of the high lights would have been 12.30 The Universal Force –The Puzzle of Inertia – a pre Open University Lecture on science matters. At 1.30pm we had the Percy Thrower Gardening Programme. When you look back at these schedules from the time, and lot were geared towards education or improvement rather than entertainment. Later that afternoon Pinky & Perky. The Sunday evening film was Tyrone Power – Mississippi Gambler. This would have been followed with News and Dr Finley Casebook, and discussion style programmes till closedown. How things have changed in 50 years – now from about early January you get bombard with Valentines related advertising etc so when the 14th February arrives, all you can really say is – Thank goodness for that. It just leaves me to say, keep watch the Pier NOW in 2016, things are happening and May will soon be with us. Until next week, when we look back 50 years ago, keep warm, the forecasts give low temperatures. And take care of yourselves.    Andre Palfrey-Martin ©2016

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