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Dancing Not Football – Maritime Museum

Liverpool’s famous dance halls depicted in banners

Merseyside Maritime Museum takes a twirl through the history of two famous Liverpool dance halls, The Grafton and The Liverpool Olympia, in Dancing not Football, from 1 June 2006 – 3 September 2006.

The famous venues have witnessed many eras of dance over the years and these have been captured on a number of colourful banners. The ‘Flappers’ of the 1920s, the mop-tops of Beatle-mania during the 1960s and the punks of the late 1970s to early 1980s are some of the periods explored in the display.

The banners – created by local youth and community groups – explore the cultural roots of families living around the Grafton and the Liverpool Olympia. They highlight a love of dancing as a link between four generations of residents, proving that present-day Grafton regulars are repeating history without realising it.

The Liverpool Olympia was first opened in 1905 as the Locarno Ballroom. Architect Frank Matcham modelled it on the Kirov Ballet in Moscow and the grade II* listed building is an important part of Liverpool’s heritage. The Grafton Ballrooms opened later in 1924 as a purpose-built dance hall. The venue has hosted some prestigious acts such as The Beatles, but is better known for its infamous ‘grab a granny’ Thursday nights, which started in the 1970s.

Artist Elaine Bennet who led on Dancing Not Football, says: