The Woodville Halls Soul Boys

Soon after I’d paid

My sixty

Or seventy pence,

I found myself

In what I thought

Was a miniature London.

I saw girls

In chandelier earrings,

In stiletto heels,

Wearing evening


Which contrasted with

The bizarre

Hair colours

They favoured:

Jet black

Or bleach blonde,

With flashes of

Red, purple

Or green.

Some wore large

Bow ties,

Others unceremoniously


Their school ties

Round their


Eye make-up

Was exaggerated.

The boys all had

Short hair,

Wore mohair sweaters,

Thin ties,


Peg-top trousers

And winklepicker shoes.

A band playing

Raw street rock

At a frantic speed

Came to a sudden,

Violent climax...

Melodic, rhythmic,

Highly danceable

Soul music

Was now beginning

To fill the hall,

With another group

Of short-haired youths...

Smoother, more elegant,

Less menacing

Than the previous ones.

These well-dressed

Street boys

Wore well-pressed pegs

Of red or blue...

They pirouetted

And posed...

Pirouetted and posed.

Author's Notes/Comments: 

'The Woodville Halls Soul Boys' was adapted ca. the mid 2000s, with some minor editing having almost certainly taken place since, from an unfinished story dating from when I was around 23 years old; although looking back to some two years previously to a time I was a trainee Radio Officer at Merchant Navy College near Gravesend, Kent, home to the eponymous Woodville Halls, which I would occasionally frequent in times long past. Aged 21 (Image).

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Silver_Birch's picture

Happy days

A good piece of nostalgia! Here in the north of England we had similar places, I suppose. The "Mecca Locarno" in Bradford comes to mind. Live music and dancing in the 1960s. Similar fashions to the ones you describe prevailed here too. Bouncers on the door. If they didn't like the look of you you didn't even get in! Happy days! Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

Carl_Halling's picture

Thanks, SB

I am really pleased you enjoyed this, I think it was nationwide at the time, I've heard of the Mecca Locarno. They sure were happy days, would love to go back, even if once a week! Carl.

Born London, residing London Metropolitan Area.

allets's picture

Painting The Past

For us it was The Greystone Ballroom. Mowtown artists on the stage, new dance every week, the new bop, Hugging the side of an art decco hall waiting for someone to ask for a dance by lowering their hand to the hip and extending the arm backward with the palm twisted up, stylin' :D



Carl_Halling's picture

Wow, sounds great...

I would have loved to have visited, but it was a long way from suburbia, London :)

Born London, residing London Metropolitan Area.

allets's picture

The City Tore It Down

Orchestra Hall survived but not the Graystone Ballroom. A pity. It was history - just too expensive to retore. some history is on the net. Neo-gothic architecture, that indoor ceiling was gone by 1961 when I danced there and listented to The Temps and the Miiacles and Stevie Wonder. I wonder what happened to the outdoor sign and the exquisite indoor domed ceiling? - slc




Carl_Halling's picture

That is a shame...interesting memories...

1961, Motown was only just being born it iwasn't influenced the Beatles a lot,  and so the whole of British (and American) Pop music, so easy to forget the beautiful melodic influence of that music. 

Born London, residing London Metropolitan Area.