Even stories of men with cloven hooves didn’t deter the lads and lassies from the dancehalls, writes Pauline O’Grady O’Dwyer


Oh, the memories Circa 1965. The opening of the new ballroom, ‘Brendan Bowyer and The Royal Showband’, tunes that topped the charts. Kiss Me Quick, No More, Don’t Lose Your Hucklebuck Shoes. Oh God! It was all we talked about for weeks, it was so exciting. But it was a hard job trying to convince mother to allow me to go.

My First Dance. Everyone was going and, after all, I was seventeen. With lots of warnings, advice and subtle subliminal lectures, which I ignored, it was like being at a Mission service at the church, with great reluctance I eventually got the go ahead.
The exhilaration walking to the dance hall; the sheer delight we were going to see ‘The Hucklebuck King’. Queuing for the ticket, then queuing for the cloakroom to deposit the coat and being elbowed in the dressing room for mirror space was all a new experience.

Feeling very much an innocent novice, I watched closely the actions of the regular punters. The Beehive was the fashion for hairstyles, so backcombing, spray and lacquer was in great demand.

Conversation was loud, noisy and full of youth and vivacity. Giggling groups of friends discussing the dances of the week past, it was like question and answer: ‘Did you shift?’, or ‘Any shift?’, ‘Was the Band good?’

Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own