Film ID:
NEFA 21228



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An amateur film made by members of the Newcastle & District Amateur Cinematographers Association (ACA) documenting the College of Further Education Christmas Jazz Ball at the Top Rank venue, the Majestic Ballroom, in Newcastle upon Tyne on Wednesday 18 December 1963. A great variety of late 1950s and early 1960s fashions and dance styles are on show, along with footage of three traditional jazz bands: Terry Lightfoot's Jazzmen, and Newcastle jazz scene bands, River City Jazzmen and the Mighty Joe Young Jazzmen.

The film begins with an exterior shot of the Top Rank Dance Hall at night, decorated with neon signs. The venue was also known as the Majestic Ballroom. Young men and women (mostly students) enter the dance hall club, collecting their tickets at the door. A young woman with a sixties backcombed hairstyle walks in with a companion.

A poster advertises: "College of Further Education Students Association. Xmas Jazz Ball. The Majestic Ballroom, Newcastle. Wednesday 18th December 8pm - 1pm Late Transport. Late Bar (till midnight) Featuring (Direct from London) Terry Lightfoot's Jazzmen (Stars of Easy Beat, Lucky Stars, Saturday Club etc. etc.). Plus ... The River City Jazzmen. Plus ... The Mighty Joe Young Jazzmen. The Jazz Ball of the Year!!!"

The traditional jazz band ‘Terry Lightfoot's Jazzmen’ plays on a vividly lit stage, red curtains at the back. An overhead shot of students on the dance floor sets the scene. Close-up of a bunch of multi-coloured balloons hanging above the stage.

Shots of the packed dance floor are taken from amongst the crowd of dancers, with men and women sporting all kinds of fashions and hairstyles: male students with rockabilly quiffs, backcombed bouffant styles or beatnik for the women, some couples jiving.

There are shots of the musicians on stage playing jazz clarinet, double bass, trumpet, banjo and Johnnie Richardson on the drums. A trumpeter blows up a storm in the centre. Shots of the band are intercut with scenes on the dance floor.

Portrait shots of the trumpeter, flautist, double bassist, and a general view of the band follow. Then its back on the dance floor with a variety of dancing styles and fashionable 1960s clothes.

Some students are sitting at tables in booths. One of the male students with a mod haircut looks straight to camera.

Students are hanging out on the dance floor including a man and woman in matching shirts.

High angle shot of dancers, the band on stage in the background. A different band (?) is on stage, the trombonist in a bowler hat, holding his instrument and clapping to the music. The drummer and another percussionist are on stage. The band name on the drum kit reads: "River City Jazz Men". The full line-up was Herbert Hudson, Geoff Youll, Ray L. Shenton (leader, tuba), Harry Stephenson (clarinet, vocals), Joe Shenton, Brian Sansom (drummer).

The crowd are jiving and dancing enthusiastically. Close-up of the feet of a couple dancing, the man in winklepickers (shoes) and dark check (zoot?) suit. Shots of the band from the stage follow.

Amongst the audience, a couple are seated on the balcony, the girl in a 1960s pink skirt suit with hair in an elaborate bun with pink bow, and matching pale lipstick. Overhead shots show students seated and moving at the edge of the dance floor. Some of the men head for the bar. Young male students crowd around the bar, where the staff are busy serving drinks. Next, some of the musicians are ordering and drinking at the bar. Caught on film, Newcastle ACA film unit member George Cummin is trying to light the scene at the bar for this film.

An older couple (lecturers?) chat happily at the edge of the ballroom dance floor. Shots follow of individual tables. A boy with a quiff takes a drag from a cigarette, hanging out with friends at one of the tables. Next, the table is pictured laden with empty glasses.

Smooching couples dance together during slow dance tunes. Rockabilly dressers are near the crowded bar. Men and women chat and laugh together at the tables. The bar is still crowded, mostly men waiting for drinks. Empty glasses are accumulating on one of the red Formica-topped tables.

Back on the dance floor, the action is energetic, with all sorts of fashions on show including mod, beatnik, and rocker styles. A few older men and women are amongst the young crowd (possibly college staff). Shots of the live band are intercut with dance floor action. There’s a brief shot of young men and women taking a break at the banquette seats beside the dance floor, two stylish men smoking at one table.

The final sequence introduces a faster montage of shots: close-ups of the dancers’ feet and dance steps; individual musicians playing; a variety of dance styles such as twist and shimmy, and pop cult styles – art school beatnik, teddy boy and new mod; shots of the event poster; exterior shots of the Majestic Ballroom with neon signs on the facade.

The film closes with an exterior night shot of the Rank dance club, the Majestic Ballroom, located on the corner of Clayton Street and Westgate Road.

Note: The 1963 River City Jazzmen musicians are: Herbie Hudson - Trombone (Bowler hat); Joe Errington - Trumpet; Harry Stephenson - Clarinet; Colin Hopper - Banjo; Stew Jessup - Bass; Joe Shenton- Washboard ; Brian Sansom - Drums. Harry and Colin were founder members of the River City Jazzmen.