In this blog series, we talk to people about their connections to Hull and what the city means to them. In this post we chat to Alison Keld about 2017, the impact of the blitz, and nights out dancing in Hull.
Thanks for chatting to us! First things first – tell us a bit more about you.
After retiring from paid employment, I became a City of Culture Volunteer and absolutely loved being part of Hull’s time in the spotlight.
Great. What’s your relationship to the city?
My ancestors arrived in Hull during its commercial boom in the mid 19th century. There are family stories about wartime bombings, military service and the hardships of life between the wars. I was born in 1952 when Hull was rebuilding itself after the destruction of WW2.
Can you tell us about a place in the city that’s special or memorable to you?
The place that holds special memories for me is Mecca’s Locarno Ballroom on Ferensway (we called it Mecca). It’s the place I met my husband in 1969. Music and dancing has always been part of my life.
As a young child I went to tap and ballet classes, followed by piano lessons. In the swinging 60’s I danced at church youth clubs to the Beatles and Rolling Stones who were just emerging on the pop scene. In 1964 I saw the Beatles live at the ABC Regal Cinema, I still have my ticket.
Wearing mini dresses bought from C&A on Ferensway, I would go along with friends to under 18’s night at Mecca. No alcohol was served, but who cared, we were there to twist the night away around our handbags. When we turned 18, we went dancing at Mecca at least twice a week, usually Mondays and Saturdays. Whenever I hear Time is Tight by Booker T & the MG’s it reminds me of the revolving stage and the Gene Mayo band followed by the DJ playing the latest hits.
There was always a long queue to get in, lads without a tie and smart suit were turned away. The lady’s cloakroom was glamourous with rows of gilt mirrors, each with a little red padded stool beneath where you sat and touched up your makeup and lacquered your hair. You handed your coat over to the attendant and was given a cloakroom ticket that you must try not to lose.
I loved the excitement and atmosphere of the place, the darkness, the sweeping staircases up to the balcony, the glitter ball, the cocktail tables overlooking the huge dance floor, the tap on the shoulder when a lad wanted a dance, the fumble for the cloakroom ticket at the end of the night.
ln 1971 Locarno was renamed Tiffany’s, then Peppermint Park and Lexington Avenue. In 2009 the building was demolished. The Hilton Doubletree Hotel was built on the site and opened in 2017.
Our other favourite Hull dance clubs/discotheques all long gone are:-
Baileys, Jameson Street
Bali Ha’I, George Street
Bier Keller, Bishop Lane
Malcolm’s, George Street
Hofbrauhaus, George Street
Kestrel Club, Charlotte Street Mews
Kon Tiki, Whitefriargate.
Me and my husband still go to live music performances and festivals, and I still love to dance, it makes me happy.
What’s one thing we absolutely need to include in a history of Hull?
The Hull Blitz May 1941 which changed the face of the city forever.
Finally, what’s your favourite thing about the city?
Being able to walk along the banks of the Humber and spending time by the Marina and the Pier.
Thanks so much for chatting to us!