Steps back in time with Edinburgh’s dancers

Edinburgh University students dancing at the Beatnik Ball in the Fountainbridge Palais in 1965
Edinburgh University students dancing at the Beatnik Ball in the Fountainbridge Palais in 1965
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The delirious dance moves which saw swinging kids get down to the beat at clubs across the country have been revived this week with the release of documentary Northern Soul.

The film takes a close look at the music scene which gripped a generation of white working-class kids in the 1970s, from Wigan to Aberdeen, Southport to Edinburgh, and which saw youngsters trying out dance moves involving spinning, kicking, dropping, diving and stripping to the rare sounds of black American vinyl.

A party to mark Mecca's 21st birthday party at the Palais in Fountainbridge, 1958

A party to mark Mecca's 21st birthday party at the Palais in Fountainbridge, 1958

Of course even before Northern Soul took off, the Capital had celebrated dance in all its forms. In November 1965 the Fountainbridge Palais was full of University Students throwing their best shapes for the Beatnik Ball.

The crowd packed out a newly refurbished Palais de Danse in November 1958, at a party to mark Mecca’s 21st birthday party.

The Palais was constructed out of the back of the picturehouse and in 1956 the cinema was converted into an entrance hall for the palais – the largest in Britain. At that time there were 60 staff and resident band leader Harry Roy. The dancing was non-stop, a novelty for the time, which was facilitated by a revolving stage which brought the next band around immediately.

In 1957 a new dance floor was installed at the Palais, built on springs.

A boy from Soul Sonic Rockers demonstrates break 'dancing at the Triangle arts centre in West Pilton,1985

A boy from Soul Sonic Rockers demonstrates break 'dancing at the Triangle arts centre in West Pilton,1985

It wasn’t just the Palais for dancing though – a new craze came to the Capital as a young boy from Soul Sonic Rockers demonstrated break dancing at the Triangle arts centre in Edinburgh’s West Pilton in April 1985.

And another popular venue was the Americana Discotheque, later known as Fat Sam’s, in Semple Street, which was packed out in January, 1972.

Dancing at the Americana discoteque in Semple Street in 1972

Dancing at the Americana discoteque in Semple Street in 1972

Jiving Champions strut their stuff in 1962

Jiving Champions strut their stuff in 1962