Following on from my piece on Harringay's Salon du Bal in the jazz age, I've been unsuccessfully trying to find out more about the contemporary Palais de Dance in Finsbury Park.
I can find very little on the venue at all, most particularly its precise location.
What I have been able to ascertain is that the Palais de Dance in Finsbury Park was a popular Jazz dancing club between 1920 and, I think, the early 1930s.
I had assumed that it was connected with other venues of the same name. A more atmospheric photo of the much better documented Hammersmith Palais de Danse shows the same leaning towards Chinoiserie.
However a report of a court case in 1922 between the owners of the Hammersmith Palais and the Finsbury Park one shows that the ownership was not common. (Reported in the Bioscope, 19th January 1922, attached below)
Hammersmith Palais de Dance, c 1920
The closest I can get for a location for the Finsbury Park club is provided in a memoir of growing up in north London in the 1920s and 1930s (King's Cross Kid: A London Childhood between the Wars) by Victor Gregg.
The author placed the venue "almost opposite the posh new Astoria cinema".
I've looked through local directories of the time but have been unable to find any mention of it. Nor can I find any mention of it in local newspapers or almost anywhere else.
The one thing I could find was a write-up in a weekly dance magazine from 1923, which I bought a copy of on ebay. But, apart from the photo, that's about the only evidence I can find that it ever existed. Nonetheless, the photo above and the article below do give some faint whiff of what it might have been like.
Popular Music & Dancing Weekly, 22nd March 1923
The cover of the issue that covered the Finsbury Park venue was pretty dull. But some of its contemporaries are very atmospheric.
This might be a massive red herring or non-clue, but the way the light is shining in the photo makes me think it must be upstairs. That also ties in with the ceiling joists I guess.
About opposite the Astoria (Rainbow?) was the George Robey. Upstairs there? I seem to recall it was quite a spacious pub from the gigs I saw there in the 70s. Those were at ground level.
Yep, the Astoria was the Rainbow too - but I think the George Robey was probably too small - one of the articles above talks about room for 250 couples without crowding and the upstairs of the pub wasn't that big.
Yes, I just found a picture of the Robey and the ground floor was much bigger than the upper storeys.
I've now eliminated the congregational church opposite the Astoria on Seven Sisters Rd that I found on a 1915 map because it didn't close as a church until 1939. There are two likely looking big buildings on that same map on the northern side of Fonthill Rd that are unlabelled and then there's the Empire Theatre on the other side of the railway near where FP mosque is now. Here's the map: https://maps.nls.uk/view/103313231
Thanks for those thoughts. The roof definitely suggests a modern building. It might well have served several purposes.
I've even been in contact with the National Jazz archive - and they can't help either (In fact I ended up sending them my material).
It's a mystery.
I've written to Islington archives to see if they can help.
An article in The Bioscope 21 February 1924 states that "The Finsbury Park Cinema is a veritable centre of amusement. Attached to the theatre is the Palais de Danse, where dances are held every afternoon and evening; also a Sunday Club."
The Finsbury Park Cinema was to the north of Stroud Green Rd, on Seven Sisters Road at the entrance to Finsbury Park - the site now occupied by Lidl.
Thank you, Konrad. I wonder which building it was. Coincidentally I was looking at the building fronting the Stroud Green Road and wondering if it was on the first floor of that one. The ceiling structure looks familiar. (see below)
The dates fit, because the Stroud Green Road Cinema and the one round the corner on Seven Siters Road were amalgamated in 1920, the very year the Palais is supposed to have started up.
Did you just happen to have that magazine lying around?
Weirdly, this potted history doesn't mention it (but I think you're right nonetheless): http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/15136
Hugh, did I have this magazine lying about? No, I didn't, it's the result of a search on The British Newspaper Archive. I should have mentioned this, also that no copyright holder is known.
This ad records the opening of the Rink in 1910. It appeared in "Cycling" - 26 January 1910. Also from The British Newspaper Archive - Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD
I have also shown the cycle lamps in the adjoining ad as there is currently a posting on HoL for bicycle carbide lamps - which the top lamp in the ad is.
I must have been having a bad day then. I failed in my search in both Kelly’s and BNA!
© 2023 Created by Hugh. Powered by