Memories of the Palace Cinema dance studio

Many Wycombeites (is that a thing?) will remember the beloved Palace Cinema in Frogmoor.

It hosted hundreds of people queuing to see the latest movies and teenagers congregating to see shows on Sunday nights.

But the cinema also had a large hall on the first floor, which served as a dance studio and, in another era, as a café.

And members of the BFP’s We Grew Up in Wycombe Facebook group recalled learning to dance at the well-known studio, with many fondly remembering their ballroom dancing lessons.

In response to a question from Bruce Beal, Sharon Clarke said she took ballroom dancing lessons there around 1972/73, as did Jenny Priest, Maggie Ashton and Caroline Stulgaitis.

Vivienne Green said her husband used to go there, while Pip Wray also said she took ballroom dancing lessons in the late 70s.

Lorraine Amor wrote: “My mum and dad went there for years. In their later years, they were part of the sequence dance group. I also went there for a few weeks during the Saturday night fever days”, while Susan Bell commented: “I remember but I never went. My husband did however take Saturday Night Fever style classes there I believe. Those were the days, huh?!”

Elaine Riddle added: “I also took ballroom dancing lessons there – in the late 70s. [I] Remember coming downstairs afterwards and buying some blackjack and chopsticks in the lobby of the movie theater while I waited for mom to pick me up.

And Lorna Haywood said, “[I went too] with a friend for a few weeks. But we were the youngest around 40 so we went to the Red Cow next door. Much more our age range…about 16 years old.

Jeanette Brinton commented: “I had ballroom dancing lessons there on a Saturday morning, it must have been in the early 70s. I was never very good, but I remember I liked it .

Brenda Thomas said she remembers helping Derek [Barlow] on a Saturday night and with a few lessons a week in the late 1960s, while Margaret Harman wrote, “Me and my girlfriend Judy went to dance lessons on a Saturday morning with Derek Barlow.”

Jennifer Davies recalled that she and her future husband took Latin American lessons in 1964, while Lesley Foster recalled lessons from Saturday Night Fever.

Shelagh Pile wrote: “I remember it well. My future future – we went there for a meal with her sister and her boyfriend then to The Bell to celebrate which was quite an event as I was only sixteen.

“A few years later, I went with my sister to dance lessons there, which, as married women, was quite daring at the time. How times have changed.

Lorraine Akerman recalls, “I had dance lessons there when I was a kid…I loved my strappy silver heeled sandals. We danced to chirpy chirpy cheep cheep,” while Nigel Draper said his parents went to the studio for dance lessons in the 1970s.

Helen Thompson added: “Yes my husband and went there, always remember dancing in Mississippi. I loved it,” while Ann Montague Hall commented, “I remember taking ballroom dancing lessons there in the late 60s and early 70s.

“They always finished the lesson playing Sugar Sugar from The Archies.”

A number of members also remembered the cafe, with Margaret Harman writing, “Remember to have a pot of tea and a slice of toast at the posh palace cafe”, while Brian Slater commented, ” I remember those days. Also remember the cafe there, we were going there on a Sunday night before the pictures started.

Jean Smithson said: “And the cafe above where we met after church for coffee and a chat with the All Saints Club.”

The Palace cinema was demolished in the 1980s. The Chilterns Center now stands in its place.

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