The Plaza Ballroom

The Plaza was situated next to the Odeon Cinema and close to St. Peter's Square. In fact, the Odeon Cinema was in the next block to the left.

D.J. Jimmy Savile (b. James Wilson Vincent Savile, Sunday, October 31, 1926, Leeds, West Yorkshire, England d. Saturday, October 29, 2011, Roundhay, Leeds, West Yorkshire, England) who had been a DJ in Ilford, Essex, came up to Manchester in 1959 and began a lunchtime session here at The Plaza.

He ran lunchtime Rock 'n' Roll sessions here every week and later became the ballroom's manager.  The club also had a D.J. Mike G. Little.

On Tuesday, October 23 to Wednesday, October 24, 1962 The Plaza Ballroom had The Inaugural Dance Of The United Nations Association Manchester here, 7.30pm - 12.30pm. Advertised in The Manchester Evening News as

All Are Welcome At The Inaugural Dance Of The United Nations Assn., M/c 7 30 p.m.-12 30 2 Bands. Licensed Bar. Tickets 5/- obtainable Plaza & Lewis's Ltd.

Info courtesy John H. Warburg May 2024

Along with many other clubs the Plaza was the in place to be in the early 60s. Along with my friends l went to the Plaza every night it was open.Whilst working at Kendals in the early 60s l was in trouble most days as l used to go to the lunchtime sessions instead of having a one hour dinner break.

l used to take two hours and could be found most days running back to work across Manchester minus my shoes.It really was worth getting into trouble everyday just to dance. Have still got one of my members cards. Saw and met many great Djs no bars then just the coffee bar.

Denise MacGuffie [nee Cave]  

I remember going to the Plaza in the early sixties and seeing Dave Lee Travis, but I also remember another dj called Mike Dee Little who was the better of the two. Also saw Jimmy Savile at Heaven and Hell.

We used to go to Tommy Ducks before the clubs as the Plaza was teatotal.

Wonderful memories, great days.

Eddie Slattery.

Back in the Dark Ages - 1957 to be exact - I was working on Grosvenor Street and a couple of times each week a few of the younger element (I was young then) would troll on down to the Lunchtime sessions at the Plaza. 

The DJ was that fella with the cigar (I forget his name) and one of the most requested records that he played was 'Cinnamon Sinner' by Tiddy Gibbs and the Beat Boys. 

On the other lunchtimes I would go to the Regional College of Art on All Saints where John Mayall would do sessions with his band 'The Powerhouse Four".

These kids today with their pea pods and their 3pm players don't know that they're born. 

Pete Crooks - 30/5/09

Back in the early sixties the Plaza used to run Saturday morning dance sessions for kids.We used to dance to stuff like Jett Harris and Tony Mehan, Tornadoes etc. I remember on a few occasions we even had Jimmy Savile up on stage.

Andrew Gibbons My first experience of the Plaza was as a schoolkid in 1957. I went to Chorlton Grammar and towards the end of term it was GCE exam time. It was exams in the morning and the afternoons were supposed to be spent revising for the next days exam. No chance - as soon as we realised that nobody checked on us in the afternoons it was a 15 minute bus trip each day to the Plaza for the lunchtime hop (don't think the term 'disco' had yet been coined).

DJ was Jimmy Savile - posh suit and big cigar in evidence. Records played were mainly chart stuff by American rockers, but Jimmy's sessions always included some surprises. Frank Sinatra (French Foreign Legion), Peggy Lee (Fire Down Below), Sammy Davis (Something's Got To Give), etc., etc.

Also he used to hammer 'Little Darling' by The Diamonds.

Obviously, my Plaza days were only just beginning and I continued to enjoy their night time sessions for many years to come. 

Tom Bancroft

My friends and I always went to the Plaza in the late 1950's. Jim and his big cigars were always very prominent and of course no alcohol, only soft drinks. You could also grab a table and leave your handbag there while you danced - it was very safe. You got a lot of boys just standing arund the outside of the dancefloor watching. They were either not too sure of their dance ability or were not keen on dancing but always hoped to click with a girl before the end of the night.

Before going to the Plaza my friends and I would meet up in either Amigos or the Can Can Coffee Bars or The York pub on York Street. Spend the night dancing then on to the 92 all night bus home - I lived in C-on-M and, in those days, if I missed the allnighter I could safely walk home down Downing Street and round Ardwick Green.

June Young - 12/4/09

I remember the Plaza well. I used to go three or four times a week and Jimmy Saville was the DJ. I met lots of wonderful people there. Every time I hear 'Smoke gets in your eyes' I am transported back to a particular time when a certain lad used to always get me up to dance to the tune. We used to jive as well but this song was 'our song' Happy memories eh? 

Theresa Halligan - 15/5/09 

I used to go to the Plaza each lunch time when I worked in Manchester City Centre, then again on Sat afternoons, then home for tea, to freshen up, and back again for the evening session.

I remember a DJ called Mad Mike as well as Jimmy Savile. At one time quite a lot of Manchester City players used to go on a Saturday night, I remember dancing with Mike Summerbee and Dave Wagstaffe. 

I remember dancing the Madison and the Twist, I used to love to jive, and had a regular dancing partner called Dave, who could really move, I can't remember any trouble there, I am now 64, and still love 60's music and love to dance.

What wonderful memories.

Joyce Gill - 29/3/10

In the early sixties I lived, breathed and loved the Plaza, there was no where on earth like it. I was there every night it was open when I could beg, steal or borrow the money. I was at college in Manchester and used to go in my lunch hour when all the Man City boys were there. Thank you Plaza for my lifelong memories.

Carole Matthews - 25/5/10

My memories are from 1947/49 whilst doing my national service,looked forward to weekend pass from Padgate RAF to the Plaza. At that time the Manageress was Miss Petico (or similar) - great lady.

After demob returned home to Ardwick. Regular visits to the Plaza,Ritz the Town was alive in the evenings. Trouble was rare.

If you wanted a drink a quick call to Tommy Ducks was close by,and then a hurry back to the Plaza. A world apart.

Hugh Mechan - 7/1/11

As a a group of young men we used to visit The Plaza on Saturday afternoons between 1940 & 44 .We all worked at Vickers Armstrong factory on munitions. In the interval we went downstairs to the billiard hall.

Alfie Proctor - 15/2/11

I worked at the Plaza, very briefly, from 1962 to 1963 as "Box Office Manager" (Glorified Bouncer Supervisor, although they weren't called bouncers then, they were supervisors!)

The Mecca Dancing area manager was Jimmy Saville - he devised lunchtime disco sessions for the young city workers, who could have a snack lunch and a soft drink whilst enjoying the music and a jive. It wasn't called disco then, Jimmy called them "Off The Record" sessions. They were very popular.

The Ballroom manager was Terry Devine, Deputy Manager Terry Allen. The main DJ was called "Mad Mike" (I think his name was Tierney) who shared the disco duties with a young Dave Lee Travis. Disco wasn't the main feature however, there was Art Lester's Orchestra, his daughter Jo being the singer and the Eddie Gray Trio. When it was a "Disco" night we had to hire Eddie Gray for an hour's spot to satisfy the musician's union. One night I caused Jo some embarrassment - she was coming up from the dressing room and asked me to fasten the hook and eye at the back of her off-the-shoulder evening gown but unfortunately I fastened the hook to the top of the zip and when she was belting out a song the top of her dress fell away !!! Pure accident, honestly !!

A regular visitor then was the singer, Michael Holliday. We worked long hours and an old lady, Agnes, cooked an evening meal for us - Michael would time his visit to sample her home cooking.

On one occasion Freddy Cannon did a charity show at the Plaza, for the Jewish World Relief Organization and Freddy and The Dreamers did a supporting spot. The young people preferred Freddy Garrity and his group to Freddy Cannon.


The photo above was taken in the Autumn of 1962. We did an illuminations tableau. It shows, left to right, the ballroom handyman, can't remember his name, he was a painter & decorator, carpenter and did electrical repairs. Next, a young Dave Lee Travis, Lou --------------? senior supervisor, Terry Allen, Terry Devine and myself, Brian Cook.

Great reading the recollections, brought back some great memories.

Brian Cook - 11/5/11

In the late 1950's I used to go to the Plaza on my lunch hour when Jimmy Saville was the DJ. I worked at Deakons (sp) Charted Accountant firm by the corn exchange. In those days who would ever dream that Jimmy Saville would become so famous. The Plaza and the Ritz bring back many many happy memories. (I live in California now)

Wendy Nichols - 1/11/11

First mate Jimmy Saville at the Plaza, early '60, used to go dinner time from work. He would play a lot of Sinatra, but Elvis was the boy and all the rock n, roll was our music.

Great place for jiving, good times. Jimmy was the boy. From there we would go to Tommy Ducks - we were known as Teddy Boys.

Tony Austin - 1/11/11

I went to the Plaza around 1962 when ever I could. Lunchtime sessions for a tanner, see Hermans Hermits practising and listen to records. Saturday afternoon sessions for one & sixpence, Saturday night and then Sunday club. Running up those steep stairs was easy then. 

No alcohol only orange juice and coffee. I saw lots of groups there, oddly the one that stands out were The Three Pennies; the singer had a great voice. I loved the Plaza Jive; the best dancers certainly went to the Plaza, and the best looking girls. Very, very happy memories from thoes youthful days.

John Gledhill - 14/1/12

On January 1st 1951, I started what was to become a year's residency at the Plaza Ballrom as drummer with Andre Messeder band. The Manageress was Phyllis Paccito and the small band was run by Rochdale pianist Dave Egerton.

We played every afternoon and evening with alternate Sundays at the other Mecca Ballroom The Ritz. After a few months there was a new manager Terry McGrath, who brought in a new assistant manager Jimmy Savile.

they decided that it would be a good idea to have lunchtime dances. To promote this our band was sent on a tour of works and office canteens. That meant only one band was in residence two or three afternoons a week. To fill in the gap Jimmy played records and in the course of time became a full time dj and manager at the Locarno Leeds, another Mecca ballroom.

Roy Holliday - 3/3/12

What a wonderful place the Plaza was. Remember all those lunchtimes jiving and then running like mad across Albert Square. Met Jess Conrad one time,thought he was gorgeous, well I was only 16 (as the song goes). Does anybody remember when it changed to Tiffanys ? Wonder what they did with all those palm trees ? What happy days the early 60's were.

Beryl Dawson (Nadin) - 14/3/12

Great times at the Plaza, went every day 12 till 2, then off to work till 10, never missed a Monday night for years 62/65, with my mate John Buxton (wonder where he is now). Great nights,and then there was the TOP TEN club on Sunday nights at BELLE VUE with Jimmy Savile.

David Barlow - 23/3/12

My friends and I had wonderful times at the Plaza - 1963 to 68. I remember the steep stairs and the "posh" ladies powder room at the top. You had to have the back of your hand stamped if you wanted to pop outside. I remember the dj at the time was Dave Plumb and we were there every weekend and some week nights, couldn't get to the lunch time sessions.
They were very happy times. 

Joan Shemwell - 2/4/12

I used to go to the Plaza at lunchtimes, especially Saturdays. I remember Jimmy Savile and Mike the other DJ. I also remember the guy on the door, Sam. Where are all the wonderful dancers who went in the late 50's ?? 

Jean Crolla - 14/4/12

Used to go to the Plaza in our lunch time when working at the CPO British Rail, Mount Street. We used to say dont look at them the footballers, it will make them big headed"

Oh happy days.

Rita Nickson nee Spencer - 17/5/12

Does anyone remember Nina Howlett ? She sang at the Plaza and I'm trying to find out more. I'm not sure if she was in a band or a solo singer. I would love to know anything anyone could tell me about her.

Sheryl Irving - 18/6/12

What great times I had at the Plaza,I went to so many sessions from 1960 to about 1964. I remember well Stuart Allison and David Holland two lovely lads - what happened to them?I

remember Jess Conrad and Kenny Lynch, Mad Mike and Brian, one of the bouncers(weren't called bouncers then though). Happy Happy Day's - wish the kids today could experience what we had in the 60s.

Valerie Jones - 29/7/12

I remember going to the dinner time sessions. I used to work at the Refuge Insurance. I remember Jimmy Savile - he used to wear a see-through shirt with pound notes in the pockets. Also went Fri and Sat nights - thought it was wonderful.

Linda Lawson - 12/10/12

I frequently went to the Plaza on a Saturday nights. If I remember correctly Hermans Hermits were regular performers. Also the lunchtime sessions were great value at 6 old pence. Who can still dance the Plaza jive?

Pete Rose - 14/11/12

Lunchtimes the Plaza in the early sixties - Savile had just left and I think Mad Mike was at the controls. Quick pork pie and beans at Nic's then upstairs for a bob's worth (or was it only 6d?) at the Plaza with Neville Horner, Reg Hardie, Mike Doodson, Michael Bligh, Malcolm Booth, Jon Guest, Barry ?? et al. 

Chris Jones - 23/12/12

Great memories of the Plaza in the early sixties one of the guys asked only a week ago which was my favourite. Just walking up those stairs and walking across the dance floor what a buzzzzz, needless to say his was smooch time that was if he didn't get a knock back.

Some six of us out of the old crew now meet up in the Grey Horse in Portland Street where we used to have a few beers before going to the Plaza just like the old days. Funny enough Glyn Ellis[Wayne Fontana] then an unknown was at that time one of the lads and he won the talent show singing Ain't That Funny, god they were happy days. My memory isn't as good as our Barry's alias Saph, he remembers everything as though it was yesterday and the stories he tells are just great. Roll on the next re union.

Dave Binns (Dusty) - 30/12/12

I virtually lived at The Plaza 1960 till closed, dance partner and boyfriend Tony White, also very friendly with DJ Tony Wellbourne - little guy, his girlfriend Barbara even smaller. Great days.

If anyone remembers me was Irvine, lived Salford.

Heather Steeples was Irvine - 18/1/13

I too remember spending lunch hours at the Plaza,almost every day and sometimes also Friday and Saturday evenings.What great times they were,never any trouble and we didn´t have a care in the world.We then dashed back to King street,The Vulcan Insurance Company,later in St.Mary's Parsonage. I was then called Mitchell and my best friend was Anne Davison.

So nice to read about peoples memories,mostly like mine.I am now 65 and live in Germany but will NEVER forget those great days with Hermans Hermits and The Hollies.

Pauline Lanner - 5/5/13 

I used to go to the Plaza Ballroom lunchtime sessions in the early 60s. I worked as a Design Reproduction Artist at the Calico Printers Association (CPA) on Oxford Street - not far to go. I was also an avid Manchester United fan and had gone to see them play Benifica in a European Cup match at Old Trafford the night before going to the Plaza for a lunchtime jive. Both teams were there with their managers and staff - smartly dressed in their club blazers with badges. A Benfica player came (with another player as interpreter) to ask me to dance. I had a number of dances with him before learning that he was Eusabio. My knees turned to jelly! His friend - the interpreter was Aguas. We had great fun in those lunchtime jive sessions. 

Susan Leech (nee Dutton) - 14/11/13

I too had great times at the Plaza and remember a much more sober Jimmy Saville who used to greet us with 'Good Evening Guys and Gals' whilst flicking his Cigar ash.

Can anyone remember the name of the Trinidad Calypso Band who were regular performers at the Plaze it was always a swinging night when they appeared.

I can remember one night when Marion Ryan appeared with them.

I also wonder where me 6 girl friends are now and if they remember our Saturday nights? I was Ann Walker in those days!

Those were the days when we didn't need alcohol to enjoy ourselves!

Ann Holmes - 19/2/14
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