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A Shout From The Attic: Chinny's

"Dance halls were where most of what was happening happened...'' Ronnie Bray recalls his youthful days in a dance hall in a West Yorkshire town.

To read Ronnie's autobiography from the beginning click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page. Read also his superlative Letter From America columns.

Chinny’s, down what was East Parade, was an important part of growing up in Huddersfield. It was a dance hall operated by Charles Frost, and was long since demolished to make way for the Queensway ring road. In earlier days it had somehow achieved the name of Chinny’s, probably after a previous owner. It was a magnet for young folk eager to learn the fox trot, quickstep, waltz, tango and meet persons of opposite gender, but not necessarily in that order.

It was a nice warm place with a revolving mirrored globe hanging from the ceiling and good music played on a record player which was electrically driven and amplified and was thus one step ahead of the acoustic gramophone.

Hundreds of young people would meet there and enjoy themselves. There was no bar, few smoked cigarettes, no one used drugs, and I never saw the remotest signs of trouble. I am not one to bemoan what young folk are like nowadays. The world has changed. Young people will always reflect the world in which they have to settle down and grow up.

I learned the rudiments of the quickstep and the waltz. That specific definition should not be wasted on the discerning reader. My technique in these two dances was matured only a little when I started going to MIA after I became a Latter-day Saint, but that was still a year or so off my Chinny’s experience.

I also learned some of the social graces but was too shy to practise them. Dance halls were where most of what was happening happened. The cinemas were full of people looking for friends but the audience at a cinema was not very mobile and there was little opportunity to mix and meet.

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