Take your partners - for a great reunion
PUBLISHED: 13:53 20 February 2012
So many memories of the wonderful school in Norwich which taught hundreds of boys and girls to dance.
It is a name which still holds such a warm place in so many hearts – the Norman School of Dancing. My stories about the dance halls have revived so many happy memories especially of this school which started life at the Samson & Hercules in Norwich and then moved to premises on All Saints Green.
During the 1950s and 60s thousands of youngsters were taught to dance at the school run by Peter and Nancy Norman – the Strictly Come Dancing stars of their day.
They were a couple who got the people up on their toes and dancing – from the foxtrot to the twist – and how they would have loved the renewed interest in dance thanks to the popular TV show.
Peter and Nancy, who sadly are no longer with us, were hosts at the popular wartime tea dances at the grand Samson & Hercules Ballroom.
And over the years they taught people of all ages to dance – from tiny tots to pensioners.
Once the school moved to premises opposite the old BBC headquarters at the top of All Saints Green, it really took off.
Along with Peter and Nancy at the helm there were the dance teachers Moya and Mildred along with Janet who helped to run the school.
In the beginning Nancy ran dance troupes for the young ones which were a class act at events in the city and county.
They taught people of all ages to dance during the week and had dances and parties at the weekend which hundreds of teenagers looked forward to.
When Nancy died Peter married Anne and when the school closed they moved to Spain before returning to Bury St Edmunds. Peter died last year.
Among those I heard from with memories of the Norman was former teacher Moya Rollison who still keeps in touch with Anne and has never forgotten those wonderful dancing days.
That’s Moya, then Miss Dolan, dancing the night away with Peter Norman at one of the party nights.
“I was so pleased and interested in your stories about the school. I was one of the teachers there for many years and I loved every moment of it,” said Moya who lives at Horsham St Faith.
“I was a receptionist when I left school aged 15 and worked my way up, passing examinations, to become a teacher. I loved my job so much.
“There were private lessons in the afternoon and classes each evening.
“It was always full and there was never any trouble. Thursday was a special night for the over-30s,” said Moya.
“We had a small bar but no alcohol. Lots of friendships were formed and many met future wives or husbands, like myself,” she added.
I also heard from Brenda Shailer (Cossey) who loved her days at the Norman.
“I started when I was about 10. I joined with my friend Gillian for tap and ballet lessons,” she said.
She then progressed to modern ballroom, being taught by Moya and then Peter, reaching the stage where she won many medals.
She loved it so much her parents enrolled and also became good dancers. “When rock ‘n’ roll came along the Normans stood up to the challenge. Friday and Saturday nights were allocated to the youngsters to strut their stuff and Peter played the music on a little turntable in the corner,” added Brenda. “The dance floor was upstairs and when you were down below it always sounded as if the floor was going to cave in when everybody was dancing,” she said.
As Kelvin Goodrum recalled a few years ago: “This was the first disco before the word was invented. Downstairs you could have a soft drink and watch the ceiling jump up and down because of the dancing upstairs – especially when they played Bits & Pieces by The Dave Clark Five.”
Others who got in touch included Trevor Winter who said: “I used to go on a Friday night disco at a cost of 2s. It was aimed at younger teenagers and was our first chance of meeting girls. We progressed to the Melody Rooms and then the Gala and ended up at the Samson & Hercules.”
Chris Capon said she had dance lessons on a Monday when she was about 16. “It was a unique place. Mr and Mrs Norman were always in full control of the evening and helped by two very attractive young ladies.”
Saturday nights were packed. “Terrific atmosphere and lots of romances began there. Unfortunately my parents were very strict and I had to leave early in order to get the bus and be home by 10pm.”
Both Moya and Brenda are wondering if people would be interested in having a reunion? If you are then you can call Brenda on 01603 405726 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also call Moya on 01603 891179. They would also love to know what became of Mildred and Janet who both worked at the school.
Watch this space for more great pictures of happy dancing days at the Norman – please keep those memories coming in.