Come Dancing…


“Come Dancing” [The Kinks]:


Promoter Bonici featured two of his acts at the Palais featured in the Kinks, “Come Dancing”

“From the earliest years of the twentieth century until the early 1960s, the dance hall was the popular forerunner of the discothèque or nightclub.” Are Ye’ Dancin’ [Eddie Tobin]

Dance hall “ballrooms” were popular throughout the UK from the 1920s though the 1960s. In Scotland, there were a couple of agencies providing live music for dancers though it was Albert Bonici who brought entertainment to the north of Scotland.

The “Two Red Shoes Ballroom” in Elgin, Scotland was built in 1960 with a small platform for the house band when jazz dominated popular music. There was also a glitter ball that gave atmosphere for young couple out for an evening of dance, entertainment, and socializing. At the time, Albert Bonici booked dances at the Drill Hall next to Elgin’s Cooper Park. It was a perfect location with a beautiful pond for couples sit by and chat after the dance and short walk across the park to the remains of a magnificent 13th century cathedral at the other end. The Bonici family purchased property next to The Park Café [and ice cream parlour] that looked out to Cooper Park and the cathedral. The Two Red Shoes ballroom was around the corner from the park and at the end of the High Street. It was perfect spot for a music venue that became a popular attraction for young people around Morayshire in the north of Scotland. In a city of 17,000, 500 attendees was a crowd and a good night for the dance hall though more manageable for those wanting to dance to the house band in the midweek. It was where the Elgin music scene happened for many people through the 1960’s – 70s and also where local musicians could have a livelihood in an otherwise quiet town surrounded by small towns and fishing villages in a rural area of Scotland.

The Two Red Shoes poster circa Dec 1965  with the Jimmy Martin band was later led by Graham Nairn [Bonici advertised in the Northern Scot and Nairn created the collage]. The musicians played most days of the week as they were also on hand to play most Thursday nights when guest performers would sing. Clarinet and sax player Colin Henderson joined the Two Red Shoes houseband under Martin: ‘He was a pupil at Elgin Academy when he joined his father, Billy, and uncle, Bob Henderson, in the Jimmy Martin Band at the Two Red Shoes in the mid-1960s. “I used to see my school teachers in on a Wednesday night for the over-25s night,” he recalled. “It was the venue of the area, and they were very strict on dress code. No one was allowed in wearing a leather jacket; you needed a collar and tie. “The guy in the light box would shine the light on people kissing or carrying on. There was never any trouble; I don’t think it was licensed, but it was mobbed every night.” It was a time when pop music was exploding onto the scene, and owner Albert Bonici brought top acts to Elgin.’

Frank Drake wrote on Rockmine’s TRS blog “I was Alex Sutherlands bass player and joined the band just before the Two Red Shoes opened in 1960. We backed many of the solo artists touring the North East over the following years and kept the punters happy playing their favourite hits. The band played in the ballroom three nights a week but had other regular venues at Buckie and RNAS Lossiemouth. In October 1964, the band recorded ‘The Two Red Shoes Album’ at Grampian Studios in Aberdeen and it went on sale, mainly in the north of Scotland.In the autumn of 1965, Alex Sutherland left The Two Red Shoes to work in Aberdeen as musical director at Grampian TV. However, his original band continued to play at the Shoes over the next five years, led by Jimmy Martin and later by Graham Nairn. Those later years were just as good as the earlier years and helped retain the popularity of The Two Red Shoes.”

Hyldie Herd: ‘As vocalist with the Jimmy Martin Band the resident band at the Two Red Shoes ballroom in the late 1960s the professional musician expects the memories to come flooding back when she steps back inside the refurbished club. Aberdonian Mrs Grinsted [ne Herd] set her sights on becoming a professional singer after winning a talent competition while holidaying in the Isle of Man, and her first professional singing engagement was with George Lawrie’s band in the Palais Ballroom in Aberdeen. She was then offered the chance of joining Jimmy Martin’s band at the Two Red Shoes. The band line-up featured Jimmy Martin on the piano with Bob Henderson on sax, George Inch on trumpet, Dave Mathieson on drums and Frank Drake on double bass. Mrs Grinsted said: “I went to Elgin for what was supposed to be a month’s trial, and I ended up staying there for some time. “The band were exceptional, and there were a lot of happy days, and sad times too, but I am sure a lot of memories will come flooding back. “Probably the biggest thing I have to thank Elgin for was meeting my husband, Keith, who was in the RAF and stationed at Kinloss. “I went to the flying club at Milltown with Frank Drake, the bass player, who was a glider pilot. “I remember spotting Keith and thinking, ‘I like him’, but I thought he was never going to get round to asking me out. He finally did and we never loooked back, getting married in 1971.” Mrs Grinsted kept in touch with Colin Henderson, a founder member of Moray Jazz Club, and made a couple of guest appearances with the musicians in Elgin before they moved to the Red Shoes Theatre. After leaving the Two Red Shoes, Mrs Grinsted moved with Jimmy, Bob and Dave to join Tommy Samson’s band at the Caledonian Hotel in Inverness.’



My research began in 2007 as a visitor to the north of Scotland. Growing up a few miles from San Francisco, I would frequent the active music scene on weekends besides being a fan of British BEAT music and never missing Shindig! on television. When first visiting the small community of Elgin in 2007, I was surprise to learn how the Beatles and many other vocalist and musicians came to perform during the early days of their careers. In the early 1950s, Albert Bonici began promoting dances though it had been an ambition since his teenage years. When he and Henry Robertson co-organized a string of jazz dances in the north Scotland, they could not have predicted the enormous success of the venture. Albert Bonici became one of the most respected promoters in the UK having arranged a high volumn of music venues throughout the north of Scotland which delighted music lovers during the height of the jazz and beat music era. Whilst known for booking the Beatles at the beginning of their 1963 tours, Albert Bonici brought most of the top British acts to north-east Scotland besides working with Scottish musicians to boost their careers. SCOTBEAT was created to share a bit of history about the BEAT years in Scotland and also a tribute to a man with a vision who, with the help of his family and staff, created a happening that is still fondly remembered by those who attended dances and concerts. Albert A Bonici hosted many up and coming bands who went on to gain international acclaim for their contributions. Besides other local resources and interviews, SCOTBEAT presents exclusive photos, adverts, and documents from the A Bonici Archives [circa 1960s]. Unless otherwise agreed, materials are not to be used for financial gain and ask that you respect the terms below. Materials presented are not to be used for financial gain without consent. © 2014-2019 All rights reserved. No part of this web site may be copied, redistributed, broadcast or published in any form without crediting this blog and/or copyright websites mentioned. All correspondence, flyers, programs, and photos from the Bonici Archives are not to appear in print other than through the propietor of SCOTBEAT. Use of the site signifies your agreement to all of these terms without condition. Please reference when sharing materials found here as the site is continuously updated to present the subject matter accurately and as a historical resource. Thank you.

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Posted in 1960's pop music

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