The Good Times , Some Memories of the Vic’s ‘Top Rank’ Days ..


by Eileen Marriott


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Every Saturday I would wake up excited by the prospect of going to the “Vic” Saturday and Sunday.  First I had to do my Saturday job at the Co-op for the money to go out with as I was still in the 6th form at St. Helena school!

Home to get ready – didn’t have many outfits so I suppose we wore the same things week in week out.  I do remember a green cord mini skirt with yellow skinny rib polo neck jumper and cheap white boots (my friend had red skirt and white jumper) .
Veronica Sanderson was my main dance ‘partner’ always there until she moved to London to be a nanny!  Another good friend was lovely Liz Meakin who sadly died aged 22 from lung cancer. I still carried on going to the Vic and was soon dancing with friends Maureen Edwards, Pat Horton and Sandra Robson! Also there was a blonde-haired guy who used to be a brilliant dancer, but always dancing on his own immediately in front of the stage, but all I remember of him was his first name, Monty!

Not sure what happened to these people except Veronica who I recently met up with via Facebook and Pat who, even though it’s been years since we met. has always been on my Christmas card list!
Under the Vic veranda and up the two flights of stairs to the dance hall.  The best place in Chesterfield or so we thought!  Usually David Oxley would be around, he was the manager and we thought he was quite old, but looking back he must have been about 30!!  I think it cost about 4s and 6pence to go in on a normal weekend, but I might be wrong, we got in for free whenever we could!
The stage was at the far end of the ballroom with DJ stand to the left. There was always a row of chairs about 12 ft away from the stage for people to sit and watch the group, but NO not us, we danced in front like gogo dancers!!! Well that’s what we thought we looked like!  This is all we did all night, dance and chat to the bands, never had a drink, we thrived on the adrenalin!!

The place was also open Monday and Thursday, just with records and sometimes competitions . We didn’t go too often,  no money, but I remember one time they’d got a silhouette shape of a big busty woman. The prize was for the person who fit the shape, but of course no-one ever would dare try it, so we did, and won a load of goodies.

Some of the bands who came were quite famous and usually played in the week!  Then proper barriers were put round the stage in case of mobbing!  We were a bit more sophisticated ( we thought) than that!

A few of the bigger bands I remember were – The Kinks ( I had a lovely kiss from Dave Davies) , The Hollies (still love their music), Wayne Fontana, The Who (Keith Moon asked me if I was Mary Poppins! Don’t ask!!!!!), Nashville Teens, The  Merseys  (  my favourite band before when they were the Merseybeats and Aaron Williams was with them)! Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Titch,, and Small Faces ( though I wasn’t too keen on them in those days). I also remember a band from Birmingham called The In Between, they did OK for themselves after they changed their name to Slade!!!  I loved the Dennisons too although they soon split up and Clive Hornby, the drummer, became Jack Sugden in Emmerdale. Sadly he died a few years ago.

A band that played there a lot were Kris Ryan and the Questions ( I think from Manchester). They were very good and Kris used to have a girl sitting on stage and embarrass her by singing a love song. Never us thank you!  One Christmas we went with them after the gig to a party in Rotherham. After a couple of hours they went and we were left freezing in the front room of this girls’ house, who we hardly knew! Don’t think we ever saw them again!

Another time I remember a band called Winston G and the Wicked booked to play, their van had broken down so The Blueberries came to the rescue. However, after a while  the original band appeared so kindly they were loaned the Blueberries equipment ( glad to be of assistance .. DMcp ) Saturday saved!!!

Can’t remember much about any other bands ( it’s almost 50 years ago), but according to my 1966 diary we saw Pinkertons Assorted Colours, Mama’s Darlings, Ian Landon and the Burnettes, R & B Inc, Cheetahs, Country Gents, Fitz n Startz, Cimerons, Hells Bells, Paddy Klaus and Gibson, Jimmy Winston’s Reflections, James Royal and the Hawks, The Group, The Warriors, Measles, Emeralds, The Breed, Ian Edwards and the Zodiacs, Wynder K Frogg, Attack and Sons and Lovers ( both at the allnighter) , The Knack, Mike Ray and the Condors, Tiffany’s Thoughts, Carnaby, and Wednesday’s Child, to name but a few.  Most of them have faded into oblivion I expect!

But what a lot of good times with happy, happy memories!!!!

Copyright 2015 Eileen Marriott All Rights Reserved

NB .. I’m sure there must be more of you ‘out there’ with your own memories of ‘Chesterfield Dance Hall ( and Club ) Days’ .. The Top Rank ‘Vic’ , The  ‘Velvet Underground’ , Smokestack Club’ , Chesterfield Folk Club ( the latter two both at the Queens Park Hotel ) , the various clubs at Peter Bates’ Red Lion Inn , and of course the many more recent ones too; and if you have any photographs of the interior of any of these venues (with accompanying story too if possible), or of ‘Some Kinda Mushroom’ on Newbold Road then we would be very interested in seeing them  .. DMcP