Bright Lights & Harsh Music
Butler Hall Hop
Muz Gets It On
Gerald Gunton and Christine Vincent (now Mr & Mrs Gunton) practising some jive moves after setting up Butler Hall ready for a Saturday dance in the early 1960s.
Bright Lights & Harsh Music
This documentary of the College Dance by Clive Catchpole appeared in the 1962 College Magazine.
It's only an old tin hut, with a pitted, concrete floor. Two rows of glaring, white-shaded lights emphasise the narrowness of the building, and reveal cracks in the concave walls, weary with age. This is Butler Hall, which for two hours every Saturday night in term time functions, to the best of its ability, as a temporary dance hall.
To say this weekly dance is unique can be no exaggeration. No one here will complain about the quality of the band, and for a very good reason too - there isn't one. Music is provided by records and an excellent, though somewhat temperamental, amplification system. This has perhaps a less obvious advantage. Where else do Victor Sylvester, Joe Loss and Mantovani play their music each week, ably supported by Cliff Richards (sic), the Shadows and Chris Barber? For this doubtful privilege, members of the Senior School are charged the minuscule sum of threepence [just over 1p - Ed.].
Unique too are the clientele; exactly the same people attend each week, and it has been noted with some interest that they tend to occupy roughly the same seats. The variety of dances they perform in such a short time is really quite remarkable. Everything from Olde Tyme to Modern. or perhaps more aptly, from Valeta to Twist, is included in the programme.
Members of staff are always welcome, though it can prove embarrassing to find yourself dancing with the person whose prep you forgot to hand in for the third and fatal consecutive time. However, I should like sincerely to thank Miss Wigham, Mr. Seeley and Mr. Mullenger, who so generously have given up their Saturday evenings to be on duty at the dance, and who, during the week, aid, advise, and at times restrain, an enthusiastic Dance Committee, which this year must be congratulated upon the many improvements and ideas - practical ones at that - which have been realised.
The College Jazz Band (which appeared by kind permission of The Noise Abatement Society), led by Timms, was unfortunately disbanded. However, our own instrumental group (which appears by special arrangement with the Electricity Generating Board) hopes to make its debut soon, introduced by the eloquent phrasing, biased propaganda and so-called wit of David Burden and myself (who, contrary to popular opinion, do not appear by kind permission of Whipsnade Zoo). The Christmas and Valentine Dances were highly successful, but were completely overshadowed by the “Tramps' Dance” which can be described as a “smash hit.” [see Photo Gallery - Ed.] The turn-out and eccentric decorations had to be seen to be believed, and if any passing “gentleman of the road” had been unfortunate enough to stumble upon so strange a scene, he must surely have fled, harbouring a mammoth-size inferiority complex. I feel obliged to say that I do not regard this as a reflection upon the dress sense of the Upper School.
It is true to say that no other events are looked forward to with such eagerness as the three yearly end-of-term dances. The College Dance, with its own atmosphere, peculiarities, and even traditions, has become an important and integral part of College life, and I feel sure that long after Butler Hall has been replaced by a new and much-needed classroom block, and long after memories of the games field and lessons have been erased, many hundreds of past students of Wymondham College will cherish memories of pleasant evenings which slipped quickly by in an old tin hut, with a pitted concrete floor - and I believe that's where I came in.
The Butler Hall Hop
Preparations in the Annexe (hut 27 end room). Paul D. Clarke is busy cleaning shoes - but not his own evidently! Ready for the off, Robin Jackson and Paul while away the time - bathed, heavily anointed with after-shave and dressed to the Nines. "Come on - it's time to go!" Michael Amis, David Cole and Sean (Terry) Logan arrive early - maybe part of the Dance Committee. The programme for the End of Term dance in 1963. What were the River Dance, Paper Dance, Policeman's Dance and Snowball Samba? Big frocks much in evidence at this time, but the pencil look (foreground - could be Sue Footer) is coming in. Do you recognise anyone? Chris Smith and Gillian Corser at the front, with Christine Vincent and Gerald Gunton to the right. Chris and Gill plus more faces to identify. Les Abbatt and Muriel Savage over by the window (where's that hand going Les?), with Rosina 'Roxy' Francis just behind them. The first of three rather blurred shots. Here we have staff members Mike Brand and Richard 'Bunny' Long disporting themselves to the amusement of the onlookers! Mike says that staff were encouraged to attend the dances. At a guess this was The Stomp - wild cavorting to traditional ('trad') jazz. Looks like Robin Jackson at the left and perhaps Colin Greenfield over on the right. James Marsh, Chris Smith, Gill Corser and ...... ?
We were all 'escorted' to the Hall in House groups. All the girls had to be allowed in first, so if a boys' group arrived before all the girls had, then they had to wait at a 'safe' distance in the enclosed covered way with the wind blowing the carefully manicured quiffs out of shape!!
The girls all grabbed the seats - if you had a "steady" she would save a seat for you . For those without a "steady" the week before was a often a whole series of negotiations carried out by third parties and 'notes passed' to see if "Miss X " would save you a seat. Otherwise it was stand in an uncomfortable group and wait to ask some unattached female for a dance in the hope of getting an invite for a 'seat' and maybe more!
The 'pop music' dances were of course the most popular - I recall the quickstep with such numbers as When - The Kalins , Hello Mary Lou -Ricky Nelson & Hard Headed Woman - The King ( Elvis). Jives were to Bill Haley & Elvis, and the 'new thing' - twisting - to Chubby Checker & Sam Cooke.
The 'old' dances were also quite popular, like the Valeta, Gay ( should that be happy !) Gordons and the Polka. But the real objective was to to secure the last dance with the girl of your dreams when the staff were very good at keeping a lower profile, the lights went down and you could smooch away to the delights of Always it's you and When the girl in your arms.
Then it was all over; the groups were escorted back to Houses and there was just another 6 days & 22 hours of lessons, rugby training, prep, note-passing etc. before it all started all over again. Ah - happy days!!!
Kevin Kennedy (North/York 1957-64)
All LPs to be played at the dance had their tracks marked with Q -quickstep (we had dance lessons to avoid too many crushed toes), S - Shake (a very '60s dance where you stood on the spot gyrating and moving one leg only) and W - Waltz, an excuse for couples to let some of the suppressed teenage hormones loose and grapple with one another. I got threatened with expulsion from the dance by Mr. Brand for placing my hand too far down Susan Watts' back (i.e. on her bum) whilst waltzing with her. I don't recall her objecting!
Dance numbers from the first half of the 1960s
list supplied by Kevin Kennedy
(an Elvis fan - in case you don't notice)
Quicksteps Jives Hello Mary Lou - Ricky Nelson
Hard-headed Woman - Elvis
You're Sixteen - Johnny Burnette
Stairway to Heaven * - Pat Boone
When - The Kalin Twins
* NO - not the Led Zeppelin one - this went something like: Climb up, climb up way up high, I'll build a stairway to heaven 'cause heaven is where you are ...
Rock around the Clock - Bill Haley
Jailhouse Rock - Elvis
Wear My Ring - Elvis
Gotta Lot o' Living To Do - Elvis
Teddy Bear - Elvis
Summertime Blues - Eddie Cochran
Be-Bop a Lula - Gene Vincent
Move It - Cliff Richard
Dynamite - Cliff Richard
Twists Smooches The Twist - Chubby Checker
Let's Twist Again - Chubby Checker
Twisting The Night away - Sam Cooke
Always its You - Everley Brothers
Love Me Tender- Elvis
Come Softly to Me - The Fleetwoods
Moon River - Johnny Mathis
When the Girl in Your Arms - Cliff Richard
The School Discos
Gosh, was I shy! We stood about in our little cliques. I would never dance to those great Tamla Motown and Geno Washington records, being a progressive music snob, although I really wanted to. We managed to slip the occasional record by the Doors or Cream into the playlist, which satisfied our hippy tastes. Rachel Shingles asked me to dance but I was too shy. I wonder where she is now?
If I remember correctly, the DJ and all-round electrical expert was a guy called John Hinchliffe [see 'Characters' page - Ed.]. He set up a “Pirate Radio” station transmitting music into the mains wiring for some while before he got busted!
Stephen Farthing (Canterbury 1962-70)
Muz Gets It On
At WyColl dances I remember 'Knights in White Underpants' by the Moody Blues was THE KD* track and was always featured for the last dance/grope when, if the member of staff was half decent, like Woody, he/she might diplomatically 'disappear' for a few minutes.
I will never forget the Warden (aptly making the place sound just like a prison) Muz really getting into the spirit and raving manically to 'Fire' by 'The Crazy World of Arthur Brown' which he used to do on Top of the Pops with a burning head dress thing on (Brown not Muz that is). I think we were just so amazed to see Muz in his grey suit shouting 'Fire!' while swinging his arms up and down that everyone just stood there gaping. He was clearly enjoying himself but no one would have believed that he had it in him if they hadn't seen it with their own eyes!
* ' Knicker Droppping' of course - what else?
Wymondham College Remembered