A Seasoned Look at Life - June 21, 2012

THE age of elegance is not dead. We celebrated birthdays this month with a night at the Sands Venue on Blackpool’s Golden Mile – courtesy of my generous mother-in-law, Wynne.

A third-floor Champagne Bar (where we had G&Ts and lager, I’m afraid) offered a spectacular view of the revamped Promenade and supertrams.

Then we dined under a starry-sky ceiling, serenaded by smooth Tony Benedict and band. Service was excellent, food good and the setting sumptuous.

What an improvement for our resort, compared to that noisy, pretentious barn formerly there – the Palace disco.

Perhaps it’s the romantic in me, but Sands echoed Hollywood’s great days.

The only shame was that so few people danced!

In the end, Yours Truly and the glamorous ladies of our party – led, naturally, by She Who Knows – strode gracefully into action with a rhythm foxtrot.

Other couples watched in admiration, and I felt proud, but also sorry, they didn’t have a few easy steps to get round the floor.

It’s easy and cheap to learn, with teaching sessions at most social and sports club halls; while dance venues range from Promenade hotels and Stanley Park’s café right up to the Mecca of Ballroom itself, our Tower.

Of course, there had once been another Palace in the resort – almost as famous as the Winter Gardens and Tower ballrooms.

This was recalled over a pint in the Taps at Lytham. I was with an older pal and casually mentioned a Diamond Jubilee dance at the Empress Ballroom.

“Oooh, I had some good times there!” The old boy exclaimed, a twinkle lighting up his craggy features.

Then he told me the routine for ‘dancing’ back then.

“The Palace was more for ‘keen’ dancers,” he recalled sniffily, then winked. “For us lads it was the Tower, or Empress. That was where you met the girls!

“Still,” he added quickly, “nothing untoward, you understand. Attendants stood close, watching for any smooching.

“You’d get a tap on your shoulder, and a warning, if you were dancing too close.

“Then they had one corner where they’d let us young ’uns jive. Later, when the staff knew you, we locals got in free – nodded through a back door off Adelaide Street.”

“So,” I said, “no canoodling going on?”

“No!” He said emphatically, then muttered: “You had to go down on the Prom slade for that.”

So you see, even back then, it wasn’t all elegance . . .

But at least they knew what steps to take.

n Roy’s novels and memoirs are available at Plackitt & Booth, Lytham, or online. See www.royedmonds-blackpool.com for full details.