This blog came about by accident. I had approached John Byrne at The Ballerina Ballroom Cinema Of Dreams about staging a rock memorabilia exhibition during the film festival. John was enthused and seemed genuinely excited with the idea. So much so, that by the next morning (Tuseday 5th August), he’d painted one of the walls in the cafe with the wording “Rock Dreams”.

All seemed well and I got fired up by the idea of combining some great memorabilia with as many details as I could about the concerts staged at the Ballerina. Every day, people were walking into the ballroom recounting their memories of who they’d seen. It was, to me as a rock music archivist, totally fascinating. I envisaged having boards with dates, photos and cuttings on the walls and some way of having people comment and leave their memories.

Unfortunately, while John had checked with Tilda that it was okay, the festival manager saw all the fire safety problems along with the difficulty of having a public access exhibition running at the same time as a ticket-only event. So, come the afternoon of Saturday 9th August, I was told the exhibition could not be staged. I travelled to Nairn that night to see if I could source another venue but by Tuesday I was still struggling to find anything. One final trip up on Thursday well and truly laid the idea to rest. On the journey back to Perthshire, I came up with the idea of the Ballerina Ballroom Blog.

What you see was started late that night, August 14th and is very far from how I want it to look and what I hope it will contain. I know that many folk in Nairn may well wonder why an outsider is doing this but I’ve been an obsessive list maker since I was in my teens and have amassed a vast collection of information about the club and dancehall circuit of the 60’s and 70’s. I even worked in one as a barman in Perth when I was 14/15. From my position at the bar, I looked straight onto the stage at the other end of a dancehall that on a Friday and Saturday night would hold 2,000 people.

I hope you’ll forgive me. While I’m not local, I share a love of venues like the Ballerina, that sadly don’t exist anymore. I can bring, the information, the facts, photos and clips to this but it will need you – and your memories to make this something special.

I hope you’ll help!

4 Responses to “About This Blog”

  1. James Shand [Hamish] Says:

    Shannies again, you have got me thinking now, the David and Jonathon fiasco, their road manager was trying to boss us around and treating us like servants, I remember our bass player Sandy Petrie giving the duo’s manager a mouthfull in broad dorrick accent with a few F words telling him to shut up or else he would get a good slap in front of the two public school boys who were very ya ya, their faces went white with shock and disbelief, you could see them trembling, Benny and myself were killing ourselves laughing while the Petrie was in full flight.

    Nearly all of the touring bands were very friendly and supportive to us local bands, mostly down to earth and helpful, letting us use their PA etc., which saved time in the change overs, and giving advice without lecturing and sharing stories, as they had all come up in the same way

    A few times we played at the Ballerina, Albert Bonici had us doing 2 gigs in 1 night, we used to start at Cullen and then drive to Nairn and finish the night there, what a killer that was, moving the gear and setting up twice in 1 night. this was so that he could feature 2 or 3 bands, i.e, a band starting the gig, the touring band in the middle and then we would finsih the night.

    We also played support band to Sounds Incorporated at a marquee in Craigellachie they had just come back from supporting the Beatles in their first American tour, what a contrast New York to Craigellachie, but alas their style of music was already dead when the Beatles revolutionised music in the 60’s.

    The Rebel Sounds came from Keith all born and bred there, but we did have a keyboard player for a time who came from Forres, Stuart Watson who was studying music at Aberdeen University and could play Bach brilliantly on the Vox Continental organ he used, before the days of the electronic digital keyboards synthisisers etc.

    Right thats enough babbling on for the moment.


  2. Doug Eames Says:

    I was in a band which worked for Mr Bonnici called the accents I too remember the two gig nights also Wick Thurso gigs with the Searchers. Zoot Money in Tain I think. We also played the Ballerina often . I wonder does anyone remember us?

  3. GORDON BRAY Says:

    I worked for Mr Bonnici in the late 70,s I was a mobile dj you no the thing gear in a van and hit the road, I left the RAF in 75 and went on the road Played both Ballrooms The Two Red Shoes and the Ballerina usually backing some band played most of the dance halls in that area and ofcourse the marquess dances !!!! Mr Bonnici was my agent, most of the time i dealt with John his nephew I am very grateful for those times and the storys they would tell about the Bands they had in the 60,s being a big Beatles fan then and still am little did i know then that some 30 years on i would still be a huge fan and be given a part in a Movie about John Lennon A dream come true for a Beatles fan.
    I still remember Alberts office upstaires the office was huge and Albert had a big desk at the window so he could see up Elgin high street a happy days keep up the good work

  4. You ask about a regular B+B used by Bonici for his bands. We were put with Mrs McBean. The place was called The White House… somwhere in Elgin. Apparently this was his fave place for digs. Peppermint Kreem were there in 1968.

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