Dancehall in County Arcade

Bunkers, shelters and other buildings
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Postby BLAKEY » Tue 25 Mar, 2008 9:04 am

I was a regular at the sixpenny (2.5p) lunchtime sessions at the Mecca in the late 1950s when Rock and Roll was "KING." You needed another sixpence for the necessary amount of Brylcreem to maintain the "DA, don't ask !!" hairstyle in good order.The Majestic Cinema had a wonderful ballroom also, as mentioned above, but for me the very finest was the sprung floor ballroom at the Scala cinema in Albion Place - 2/6d on a Saturday afternoon in the late 1950s - but this was "proper" ballroom dancing with a first class resident band.
There's nothing like keeping the past alive - it makes us relieved to reflect that any bad times have gone, and happy to relive all the joyful and fascinating experiences of our own and other folks' earlier days.
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Postby GAUTSIE » Tue 25 Mar, 2008 10:33 am

Hi, Following on from the message by 'iansmithofotley' I'd like to add a few more details. My dad was a DJ at the Mecca fom 1963 to 1967. The DJ's at the time were 'Little' Dave Gautrey (my dad), Tony Marshall, Pete Cooper and Cliff Green (who had returned to the MECCA after an earlier stint working there with Jimmy Saville). The manager at the time was Wilf Preen, who had replaced Dennis Peace. His assistant manager was Peter Madeley. Peter did a lot of work at Elland Road, doing PA announcements and raffles etc, and it was he who introduced a lot of the famous Leeds Utd players to the MECCA, giving them free admission due to the amount of females they attracted to the dancehall. Peter took over as manager of the MECCA around 1967.As for the bouncers: the 'east European chap with dark hair' was probably Laurie Barraney (excuse the spelling!) who was the box office manager. Some of the other bouncers at the time were Tony Hardcastle (with the eye scar), Danny Gilboy, Dave Dowd and 'Big' Norman.Also mentioned was the 'Bill Barron Combo'. Bill Barron had previously worked at the MECCA in Edinburgh, where one of the bouncers was none other than 007 Sean Connery!!!    
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Postby GAUTSIE » Tue 25 Mar, 2008 10:36 am

Sorry, forgot to add that it was about 1967/8 that it changed its name to the 'Spinning Disc'. However the MECCA in the Merrion Centre had already been open for about five years by this time.
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Postby Martyn » Tue 25 Mar, 2008 1:28 pm

The Mecca also had live acts and was a prime player in the Northern Soul movement. I saw both Jimmy James and the Vagabonds and Geno Washington and the Ram Jam Band there in the mid-sixties. Incredibly, both these bands are still performing. can take a horse to water but a pencil must be lead.Stan Laurel.

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Postby iansmithofotley » Tue 25 Mar, 2008 4:32 pm

Hi Gautsie,I can remember some of the people who you have mentioned. Cliff Green was a thin chap with black hair which had a silver patch (some kind of colour imperfection) on one side at the back of his head. Thanks for reminding me of Tony Hardcastle's surname. I remember Wilf Preen as a little chap with a moustache and he was very quiet but always buzzing around and working hard.I think that Les had a surname similar to 'McVay'. Brian was a big, fair haired man who, I believe, left to become the manager of the Basildon Mecca.I don't know what Dennis Peace did after he left the Mecca. I think that he still lives at Bramhope. He is always in Otley and mixes with the cyclists at the Wharfe View Cafe (Dunny's) next to the bridge. Often, he is with Jimmy Savile. I also remember seeing them last year at the side of the road between Leathley and Beckwithshaw, watching the Tour of Britain cycle race (in which Jimmy once took part in 1951). I am sorry but I can't remember your father working at the Mecca. I stopped going there around 1967/68. I don't remember in what year it changed to the Spinning Disc or when it closed down as a dance hall.Ian.
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Postby Terrym » Sun 30 Mar, 2008 10:37 am

Hello,I worked for the Mecca in the Merrion Centre in the very early seventies.Mon & Tuesday nights were disco nights. The D.J's were Hunter Smith & Rick Vaughan.Hunter still has a record shop in Leeds (Jumbo Records), I understand Rick, who was a rep is now living in New Zealand. Wilf Preen who was the old County Arcade manager was now the area manager.The manager of the Mecca Merrion Centre was Jack Allison who later moved to the Mecca at Wakefield, the assistant manager was Barry Stickney, who moved to the Cats Whiskers at Meanwood.The 2 resident bands were The Dave Bailey Renaisance and the Dennis Langfield Sound.
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Postby johnnyboy » Wed 16 Jul, 2008 10:27 pm

Just reading about the mecca,i bopped there in the 50s saturday dinner time @ monday dinnertime,the girl who worked the cash till was the singer marion ryan,some of the bouncers were wrestlers as jimmy saville was a proffesional wrestler,the small black guy on the door was called spanish (nickname i believe) tony hardcastle worked at the coop at the bottom of albion street at that time i always spoke to him as he was cleaning the windows.Iwent in the army in 1960 came out in 1969 and then used the LIDO wich was in albion street owned by a mr christie on the doors were big jim moran,tony,@marco morroco,forget who the others were any one else with memeries at the lido.
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Postby chameleon » Wed 13 Aug, 2008 11:46 pm

There's an article here on the BBC Leeds site about Marion Ryan and Ronie Hilton. ... ture.shtml

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Postby kierentc » Fri 15 Aug, 2008 11:18 am

whereabouts was the merrion mecca? was it where ritzys/confettis (in my day) used to be? or somewhere else entirely?
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Postby Chrism » Fri 15 Aug, 2008 12:02 pm

That's the place Kieren.
Sit thissen dahn an' tell us abaht it.

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