'Couldn't dance in Hush Puppies...'

A group recollection of clothing from the way they wore series.

By Lu Pearson

Photo:At the Regent Ballroom, Brighton

At the Regent Ballroom, Brighton

From the WRVS Heritage Plus Archive

Photo:Trevor and the dreaded 'stripey'!

Trevor and the dreaded 'stripey'!

Photo from the WRVS Heritage Plus Archive

Photo:Nancy's favourite dress

Nancy's favourite dress

Photo from the WRVS Heritage Plus Archive

Photo:Wally and Nancy with friends

Wally and Nancy with friends

Photo from the WRVS Heritage Plus Archive

During a session the group began talking about dressing up on Saturday night, quickly it was discovered that everyone used to go to The Regent - a dance hall by the clock tower in Brighton, where Boots is now....
Beryl 

'We walked around more than we actually danced.  There was a fabulous sprung dance floor. I went there between 1958 and 1964 I expect.  I used to finish work at 5.30 and be there by 7.00pm.  We got the bus from Portslade to the clock tower, took it from the old Green Sponge factory. It cost two shillings on the bus I remember.  Thursday was hits night, 60's stuff - Jive and Rock'n'Roll'.

Nancy

'We went there in the 40's.  There was Sid Dean and his band I remember. We used to go on a Saturday night. Wally came but he never danced. He wore those hush puppies, didn't you Wally?  Couldn't dance in Hush Puppies.  There were tea dances too, then.  Ladies wore hats and gloves, girls danced together.  I had a French man ask me to dance once. He wanted to see me home.  My Dad would have killed me. I told him I had to get the bus all the way home.  That it would take ages.  He wouldn't come all that way'.

Beryl

'It was my mum who would have killed me, not my dad.  We did proper dancing like the foxtrot and the quickstep too'.

Trevor

'It was very territorial.  I had a girlfriend then and I came home on leave and this other bloke was knocking around with my girlfriend Julie.  I went straight up to him at the bar and said, "I owe you a pint - you've taken her off my hands."  That shocked her.  Me and him became mates in the end.  There was a promotion at the Regent once, the strongest man in the world.  There were six of us volunteers.  We had to go and pull these chest expanders.  They made us take our tops off. I didn't win.  There was a glitterball too and we did the spot waltz.  If the light shone on you were out and the last couple got a prize'.

Rod 

'I didn't go dancing. My brother did.  Anyway you joined the army and away you went'.

Beryl 

'Other places in the sixties were Cliftonville Hall, St Richard's Hove Town Hall and Sherry's Victorian dance hall, but there were fights in the street there'.

Rod

'You didn't go near that Sherry's did you?  That's where the prostitutes went!'

Trevor 

'There was The Florida rooms in the aquarium. I saw The Who, Jimmy Henrix, the Temperance Seven. In the early sixties I saw Tommy Steele.  And I got into trad jazz- remember the skiffle? And at the hippodrome there was good theatre and variety - Frankie Vaughan, Petula Clark, the Andrews sisters...'

Nancy

'I had dancing shoes in leather.  There was a shoe shop on George Street in Hove. Everyone went there. There were three tier wedges, sling backs, stilettos. I walked all over the Dyke in those heels...'

Rod  

'What were you doing on the Dyke?!'

Beryl

'I was fifteen when I first went.  I couldn't afford a drink.  I was a smoker though. I used to get a sub off my gramps.  10 bob.  I had to give it back to him. That paid for the bus, entrance to The Regent and a packet of smokes.  I went with my friend - a tiny little lassie - who worked on the production floor at Green's.  She was 16, four months older than me but she couldn't even get into the bar because she looked too young. I could at 15. There were bouncers on the door but it was never any trouble to get in - I sailed in.  I used to have a Babycham when I could afford it'.

Trevor

'Being a lad, to get into the bar your voice had to break early and you had to be quite tall.  Then I'd have a quart of brown ale and cider.  Only occasionally.  It was pre-drugs.  I fell in with some blokes in a band - Reg Presley and the Trogs.  They played in the Sergeant's Mess but altered the words and got booted out'.

Rod 

'Drink?  I'd just finished my 10 weeks army training and we were due to go out in Chichester to mark the passing out. That night the bloke who was in charge of the cash disappeared with the lot of it.  I was in the Royal Sussex. So instead we took a train to Portsmouth and met some Naval lads and went out with them.  I can't remember what happened.  I woke up in the cells. Someone had phoned up the military police and we were flung in the nick.  I had a wooden bed, no blankets.  They didn't punish us more, just said: "We hope you've learnt your lesson..."

Trevor 

'I was in Vopo tower once for Chrismas. There were these border guards and they had their Russian Army issue vodka.  We spent four days finishing it off.   It was one of the best Christmases I've ever had.  We had the Russian Chirstmas box - crackers and the rest.  We played a bit of music too but only secretly'.

Sathi 

'I never drank.  I wasn't even allowed to think for myself'.

Trevor 

'There was conflict then.  People rarely went five miles from home.  Nothing ever changed. Bit then - academics began to question things.  Orton, Osborne, the poets.  There was a break down in religion too'.

Beryl  

'Our parents questioned nothing'.

Trevor

'Everyone was set in their moulds then - boys did carpentry, girls did home economics.

Sathi

'I had a problem.  I had a mind and that was a problem for me in my family'.

Acknowledgements

Special thanks to the illustrator Hannah Eaton and Trevor Povey who acted as the series Historian.

The reminiscence facilitators during these sessions were Imogen Christie and Nicola Benge.

This page was added by Lu Pearson on 07/06/2009.

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