The Dancing Club - by Caroline Jester

Posted on:Apr 7, 2016

A meeting with Loz Samuels, Wyre Forest Arts and Play Development Officer in January this year ignited an idea for a new play. You know it’s an idea that has to be written when it doesn’t go away. It’s the one that keeps popping back into your mind and returning until you acknowledge it and accept that it’s going to be a part of your life for some time…not unlike Frank and Wynn Freeman were.

Freemans Sign

Frank and Wynn Freemans Dancing Club sign

Loz planted the seed, or brought back the memory of Frank Freemans, after we met to talk about her plans for Kidderminster’s Heritage Trail and KAF 16. As she talked about all the bands that played at Frank Freemans Dancing Club in the 60s and 70s I was transported to the 80s, to the time that I knew Frank and Wynn Freeman. I wasn’t born when Captain Beefheart played there in the 60s but The Dancing Club was one of the most important places for me as a child growing up in Kidderminster in the 1980s. For six years I went every Sunday afternoon where Frank, already in his 60s would stand at the front of the room under the glitter ball and teach the latest disco routines. These came from Germany he said, he didn’t make them up himself as we copied his steps and learned ‘The Bounce’, to the tune of Amii Stewart’s ‘Knock on Wood’. Sunday afternoons weren’t enough though as I joined the queue with all the other children on a Saturday morning. We’d wait in anticipation until the music started then run up the stairs.

This was a place of refuge and a place that gave a focus to my life. My Dad had left and if my Mum hadn’t spotted a small advert in the local paper advertising dance classes for children I would never have found this club that made me believe anything was possible. Frank and Wynn taught me dedication and hope as well as bringing magic into a world that needed it.

And this is something they did for thousands of people over five decades. They created a space for people with such diverse musical tastes as ballroom, the mod scene, progressive rock, jive and disco. It was even described by John Peel as one of the most important music venues in the country.

To transcend barriers is a rare talent. They connected all aspects of the community through their passion for music and dancing. It’s this connection to the community that I want to explore in this play. I want to find out what they had that created the magic that transformed lives. Is this something we can find again? When I mention to people in the town that I’m writing a play about Frank and Wynn Freeman everyone knows who I am talking about. And they say, oh you should talk to so and so, or I know someone who knew them. Their spirit seems to be alive and well.

Frank Freemans Dancers By Colin Hill 472X310

I can’t write this play from my memory alone. That would go against the spirit of Frank and Wynn who connected with many generations. And that’s why I want to hear your stories. I want to build up a picture of these two people and The Dancing Club. I want to hear the stories of the people you met there, the music you heard, the conversations you had. Why did you go to The Dancing Club? What made it special for you? I want to hear from people who went to ballroom dancing lessons as well as disco dancers, from the children’s party to the Marc Bolan gig. What do you remember about this couple that transformed a town?

If you have something to share I’d love to hear from you. Please visit my website and send your name and email address via the Contact Page and I will get back to you There will be a reading of the play as part of KAF 16.

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