My Dancing Days

Duration: 4:42 minutes
Accession No: TWCMS : 2009.106
This story has been viewed 6953 times

This story is about Frances and her husband's love of dancing.

By Frances Brown


Other information

This story was inspired by objects from the North East Beat exhibition at Discovery Museum, Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums.

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Video transcript

The first dance I went to with my mother when I was 14 years old and I’d just left school. I left home to go to service as local jobs were impossible. I went with a friend to a hotel to work, just off Oxford Street and we used to get two hours free time every day. To pass our time we’d go up the street and we found a dance hall, the Astoria, where Joe Loss and his band played. Then I returned home where we had the local dances only costing a shilling or five pence in today’s money.

And then I met my future husband. He used to want to learn to dance and he decided he would go to the little local hops where the older ladies were. And he always said that they were the ones that leant him to dance because they knew how to waltz, that’s the main part of dancing.

The when the war broke out he joined the Ark Royal and was away. He came home on leave and we got married. The he was sent to Dunoon which I was able to visit and we found a lovely dance hall up there – which was always full, very popular. The he was sent back to Portsmouth, his depot, and I was down there while he was waiting to be drafted. We found dance halls there. One in particular that we went to, we were there one night when the silent went off and the siren was in the middle of the hall which gave everyone a shock and they all scattered.

The he knew it was getting near time for being sent somewhere so he decided I’d better come home as I was pregnant by then. A year and a half after that before he returns and we had a daughter, she was six months old before he knew she had arrived.

We used to go in the working men’s clubs, the volita, ideal schottische, the square tango, eva three step, the gay gordons and they were all the older type dances which we did enjoy. Or dinner dances, if there were any special dinner dances we used to go to them as well. We did that right up until just before he died. He had an operation and he was at home not able to go to as many dances. He longed to go, which we did, we went. He had a catheter attached to his leg in the dance hall, I was terrified I was going to knock that and cause a calamity! Then after that it got to the time when his legs started to bother him and we couldn’t go to as many dances. There was one night he decided it had come over him that he’d like to go to a dance and he said ‘I would give twenty pound for a taxi to go to a dance’ and I said ‘That’s not possible, not the way you are’. He said ‘No, but I would love to go’. I said ‘When you get yourself pulled together we will’. But he didn’t get that chance.

The I just didn’t wish to go anymore to dances, I just packed it up altogether. But I have a lot of happy memories about it all. You didn’t get many photographs in those days but what I’ve got, its nice to look back on them. We had a happy life but dancing is finished.  

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