Friday, 4 December 2009

THE REGENT

Regent DanceRegent Dance, RhylOn St. Valentine’s Day in 1946 the top floor of the present Dorothy Perkins/Burton store in High Street (shown above) opened as ‘Regent Dance Academy and Palais De Danse’ which was known as Regent Ballroom or just The Regent. It was operated by dance instructors Joe Young and his wife Jenny.

For most of the 1950s, the resident ensemble was Fred Williams & his Music. It was a ‘busking’ band; in other words they did not read written arrangements. The leader/drummer Fred Williams was dubbed ‘Fred The Foot’ because the impact of his foot pedal on the bass drum could be heard far across town!

In the picture above standing by Fred is bass player Arthur Leon. In the front row, left to right, are Maurice Seager (accordion & piano), Hughie Neal (alto sax & other reeds), Bill Conroy (Hawaiian guitar), Mike Habesch (piano, later organ), John Vine (vocalist/compere). The photo is from Mr. Vine’s collection.

In 1960 the Regent split into two ballrooms; one allowed jiving and the other didn’t. Eventually bingo was introduced. Lots of local and Liverpool pop groups played at the venue. On Saturday 14 July 1962 a scruffy but promising young Merseybeat group called The Beatles played there.

--