Memories of early scout dances

Sounds Incorporated.
Sounds Incorporated.

Over the years thousands of youngsters on South Tyneside will have spent some time in the scouting movement.

Today we travel back to the 1960s, to enjoy the wonderful memories of one particular scout, Stan Lodge, who shares his recollections of teenage dances and continental tours.

“In 1961, the 16th Simonside Senior Scout Troop (for 15 to 18 year olds) held their first teenage dance at the Nook Assembly Rooms, now an Indian restaurant,” explains Stan.

“The entrance fee was half a crown (which is 12.5p).

“We only sold soft drinks and crisps, but at the end of the night we did usually find empty alcohol bottles in the ladies toilet.”

Stan revealed that the first dance made a £14 profit.

“ The Nook Assembly Rooms became too small so we moved to Brownsea Hall, in Imrie Street which were the headquarters of the 22nd Scout Group.

“We held dances every two to three weeks, and they became so popular that people were queuing to get in sometimes on Saturday nights – even when we were not even holding one.

“We mainly used a local band called The Strangers who were managed by our Senior Scout leader Harry Leach. “Occasionally we hired a local band called The Invaders.”

Stan said the scouts spent every Saturday afternoon blacking out the windows in the summer.

“When the band had a break, we put on the top smoochy records of the day, turned the lights down and left them to it.

“This was supposed to be The Bradford Barn Dance.

“At the time, it was the teddy boy era and there were different gangs in the town.

“One night a fight broke out and the scouts tried to control the fight and did manage to calm things down, but after that we employed two bouncers, and had no further trouble.

“The average age of the dancers were 15 to 20 year olds.”

Stan pointed out that the dances ran for about three years – “local dance halls complained that we were taking their customers”.

“With the money raised, we renovated the scout hut at Simonside, bought new tents and equipment, installed a new wood floor in Brownsea Hall and subsidised the cost of continental holidays for the senior scouts.

“We also held four big dances at the Majestic Ballroom, on the site of the new leisure centre at Haven Point.

“We hired Terry Lightfoot & his Jazz band, Sounds Incorporated twice and the Clyde Valley Stompers, all supported by The Strangers.”

l Tomorrow Stan reveals how the scouts – and South Tyneside – missed out on hosting one of the biggest groups the world has ever known, along with details of those continental trips.