Remembering Edinburgh’s clubs and dance halls

The White Elephant at Fountainbridge in January 1972
The White Elephant at Fountainbridge in January 1972
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IT’s where it all began for so many, when lives can change forever as eyes meet through the dry ice or across the polished dance floor.

Edinburgh’s clubs and dance halls past and present have a few stories to tell and a special place in the hearts of countless couples.

The Cavendish at Tollcross, May 1992.

The Cavendish at Tollcross, May 1992.

Today, there are claims Edinburgh’s vibrant nightlife is in dire straits with a number of high-profile closures of famous alternative venues including Caberet Voltaire in Blair Street and Bongo Club in Holyrood Road.

Others point out the strongest will always survive for another dance, and, at a time of changing trends venues will inevitably come and go, reinventing themselves to cater for a changing clientele.

The White Elephant disco clearly had its finger on the pulse if the above scene of a packed dance floor in January 1972 is anything to go by.

Seven years later and disc jockey Derek King was pictured by the Evening News ahead of a marathon 72-day fundraising set at the then Calton Studios. When we spoke to him he had played about 1500 LPs and 9000 singles and in the previous six weeks, the longest period of sleep he had managed was 20 minutes.

DJ Derek King holds a marathon disco session in the Calton Studios in 1979

DJ Derek King holds a marathon disco session in the Calton Studios in 1979

Some will disappear all together, and pictured in May 1991 is the gap-site left on St Stephen Street, Stockbridge, formerly the Cinderellas-Rockafellas disco. Tokyo Joe’s disco and bar in Home Street was also no more after a fire in March 1988.

Edinburgh’s once famous dance halls are of course consigned to history but for one brief moment in 1992, the good old days were back. Hundreds packed into what was the Cavendish, and was then the Network disco, to honour the elegant dancing of the past – and maybe re-ignite a few old flames.

Tokyo Joe's in Home Street after a fire in March 1988

Tokyo Joe's in Home Street after a fire in March 1988

The gap site on St Stephen Street, formerly Cinderellas-Rockafellas, in 1991

The gap site on St Stephen Street, formerly Cinderellas-Rockafellas, in 1991