The Return of the Dance Hall

Sutton Coldfield Town Hall goes from strength to strength.

Since taking over management from the city council in late 2016, charity-run venue Sutton Coldfield Town Hall has seen an increased demand for dance events, whether it is to move to live music or the good old-fashioned disco.

Live bands have included The Interpreters (pictured), who play foot-stomping ska, alternating sets with a Northern Soul DJ. A recent live music event celebrating the legendary Erdington rock venue Mothers, saw a sold out audience with an average age of 68 give the sprung dance floor a thorough testing to bands such as Soft Machine and The Groundhogs.

The venue’s new managing director, Julie Rennison commented “We feel like this is a new era for the Dance Hall. Visitors – mainly in their 40s to 60s – have shown their relief at finding a non-nightclub to dance in, a proper dance floor, decent bar and importantly, somewhere to sit and rest!”

Some come alone, hearing about the Town Hall’s buddy policy, where volunteers and staff host a table for people visiting alone for a good dance. The staff make a point of coming to dances on their nights off, feeding back and improving on each event.

Since the late Sir Doug Ellis left a generous donation for the venue to improve the bar, the staff have thought carefully about what is stocked. They’ve teamed up with local suppliers such as Gin Ting, Rock and Roll Brewhouse, Time Coffee and Porky Rinders to make sure there is an impressive range to offer, involving the customers on new lines to add.

Although private bookings continue to be the main use of rooms at weekends, they are planning more events using the dance floor. More Northern Soul / Soundclash events – where two styles of music are played in a non – elitist, friendly atmosphere – are already booked in 2020.

The Interpreters bring some Bank Holiday Ska and Northern Soul on Sunday 25 August and punk/new wave band The Undercocks play Sound Clash on Friday 27th September, performing classics from Elvis Costello to The Ramones. This week, two scooter clubs visited the town hall to recognise the new trend and to view the facilities for future events.

Swing band King Pleasure and the Biscuit Boys return for their Birmingham Jazz Festival show on July 25th. The venue’s regular Tea Dance, using two adjacent dance floors, returns on August 18th.

Future plans include a Friday afternoon dance for both seniors and workers, disability discos, salsa nights and a monthly charity disco, each month focusing on a local cause.

Last year the venue received a grant from Royal Sutton Coldfield Council to upgrade their theatre technical facilities and they are now looking for a sponsor to help improve live band sounds, to include monitors and an improved rock PA. Any companies who would like to get involved, with branding opportunities, should contact the venue. In the current climate of live music venues closing down regularly, they are also keen to hear from musicians wanting to play at dance nights and be part of this rising trend.