Dance hall days

Fiona Miller, artistic director from Tricky Hat Productions.
Fiona Miller, artistic director from Tricky Hat Productions.

THE UNIQUE perspective of the older generation on their dancehall days has formed the basis for an ambitious arts initiative which had its first airing last week.

Cumbernauld Action Care for the Elderly has teamed up with a Glasgow-based arts project called Tricky Hat – and the first out of three phases was put on public display in the town centre on Friday and Saturday.

Curious passers-by stopped by an alcove which links the Antonine Centre with the older part of the mall - to see a short film with specially composed music, where CACE members are the stars.

A dance sequence and commentary see the participants share their recollections of dance venues as diverse as St Patrick’s Hall in Kilsyth, the Tower Ballroom in Blackpool and of course the famous Glasgow venues where so many of the Cumbernauld ‘pioneers’ met their spouses.

Legendary haunts like the Majestic, the Dennistoun Palais and the Plaza have all been heavily namechecked in the project which will culminate in a theatre show to be held at Cumbernauld Theatre in the autumn.

CACE volunteer Ann Mallinder (70) of Kilsyth is among those who took part. A lifelong ballroom dancer who lives in Gateside said: “It’s not easy to find places to dance now and of course, a lot of men here don’t dance these days - but this was a wonderful thing to get involved in. I love being a volunteer and you get even more out than you put in - but I really enjoyed taking part, over and above that.’’

Croy man John Hamill sings the famed Will Starr number Croy Hill in the film - as it reminds him of the time he courted his wife-to-be, Glenboig lass Mary.

“Some men weren’t so keen but I like to get involved in things like this - it was brilliant,” he said.

Former Blackpool seaside landlady Frances Pullar (78) of Stuart House recalled the glory days of the Tower Ballroom. “We used to dance to the Joe Loss Orchestra. It was a wonderful time,” said Sandra whose husband Andrew hailed from Cumbernauld.

Tricky Hat artistic director Fiona Miller (pictured above) said: “It has been amazing to hear all the different stories that people have been telling us.

“It has just been such a joy to get involved in - I feel very privileged.’’

CACE director Sandra Clements added: “Elderly people can often seem invisible but this just shows how many skills our members have.

“It has been such a wonderful experience for them.’’