Stepping back to the 50s in South Tyneside

Rock'n rolling at the Boldon Legion club in the 1970s.
Rock'n rolling at the Boldon Legion club in the 1970s.

They’re rocking around the clock on South Tyneside once more – and it’s partially thanks to a weekend away at Butlins.

For the man who has revived the 50s rock ’n roll nights at the British Legion Club, in Boldon Colliery, came up with the idea after spending time at the Skegness holiday camp.

And Steve Ridley’s brainwave is certainly proving a hit with local people who are pulling on their blue suede shoes and plumping up their petticoats in order to rock ’n roll to the sounds of those fabulous far-off 50s days.

The club used to host such evenings many years ago (back in the 70s), but they eventually fizzled out.

But now, thanks to Steve’s enthusiasm, and that trip to Butlins, the evenings are up and running once again .

“A few years ago I went to Butlins, in Skegness, and there was a rock ’n roll extravaganza weekend taking place,” says 54-year-old Steve, who lives in Boldon Colliery.

It made him think about the 50s evenings that used to be held in the Legion, and so he asked if the club fancied starting them up again.

When the answer was “yes” he got in touch with the original dj and former South Shields record shop owner Stewart Campbell, and the rock ’n roll nights returned in 2013 – taking place every second Friday night.

“We thought we’d give it a go, and we’ve been getting up to 100 people some weeks.”

In addition to Stewart’s record-spinning, the club also hosts live bands every couple of months.

“We try to support the local bands,” says Steve, who is delighted by the mix of people attending the 50s nights.

“We get people who are aged from 18 to 75 coming along. It’s a real mixture.

“Apart from the music, much of the attraction comes from the dancing.

“A lot of the older people who come along are in their 60s and 70s, but you wouldn’t know it because they are so fit, having been dancing all their lives.”

Steve says the young ones not only enjoy the music, but also like the fashions and the hair styles.”

Although Steve dresses for the occasion, he doesn’t sport the traditional teddy boy garb, even though many of the other Legion regulars do.

Instead he prefers jeans and baseball tops.

So why are so many people attracted to rock ’n roll?

“I think it’s down to the beat,” speculates Steve.

“It’s got a jolly, foot-tapping beat. Regardless of whether you are 16 or 80 years old, it gets your feet tapping.”

I asked Steve how he got into the music?

“I have always liked rock ’n roll. My father was a teddy boy, and had all the Elvis records, so I was brought up on rock ’n roll.

“I think I have rock ’n roll in my blood.”

Despite the reputation for trouble that teddy boys may once have had, these days they’re a most affable bunch.

“We have never had any trouble whatsoever. I think those days have gone.

“There are also a lot of friendships to be made, everyone is so friendly and teach new-comers how to do the dances.”

As well as the familiar rock ’n roll tunes, such as Rock Around The Clock and Blue Suede Shoes, the club also bounces to the vibe of rockabilly and jive music.

The Legion’s stewardess, Linda Turgoose, says she is delighted that the 50s nights have returned to the club.

“The interest is picking up nicely,” says Linda.

“A lot of regulars dress the part, and look brilliant.”

Anyone interested in attending one of the nights, which cost £2, should pop (or should that be bop?) along to 27 North Road, NE35 9AR, where they can expect a warm welcome – and some hot tunes.

Do you remember going to the Legion rock ’n roll nights in the 70s?

Did you used to be a teddy boy or a teddy girl? Please get in touch, I’d love to hear from you.