Article by Kirsty Hough: A 91-year-old DJ is appealing for new members to join the Billericay dancing club he has run continuously with his wife since 1972.
Denis Hart, who lives with his wife and longtime dance partner Thora Hart in Atridge Close, Billericay, set up the club in partnership with Venezuelan musician Edmundo Ros, who became a British household name in the forties and fifties.
However over the past 46 years the membership at the club, which plays ballroom, Latin, sequence, and jive music, has dwindled from 80 members to just eight, leaving the future uncertain. Denis said:
“Though we don’t have the numbers anymore, we are determined to keep going and make sure that people can relive all their ballroom memories.”
In an effort to keep the club running, Denis has resorted to using some of his own money alongside the continued patronage of Edmundo Ros’ wife Susan, however without a change in the club’s fortunes he will be forced to close.
Denis met Edmundo, who passed away in 2011 at the age of 101, in 1948 after Denis wrote to a number of bands to ask if they could provide instruments to the youth club he had set up in Ilford after the Second World War.
Edmundo’s band were the only group to respond, and soon after Denis’ youth club members formed their own band called the Rumberos, who supported Edmundo as he toured the UK.
The pair later set up the Billericay Dancing Club to give residents the chance to remember their ballroom days. Denis said:
“It would be heartbreaking to see the club come to an end after all these years – I’d like to keep it going until I catch Edmundo up and reach 101. I do feel like he’s looking down on me and willing me to keep it going – he was one of the most wonderful people I’ve met and I want to carry on for that reason really. The club has been a huge part of my life and I think it’s important that we keep people’s memories alive.”
The Billericay Dancing Club meets every Wednesday night during school term times at Buttsbury Primary School, Perry Street, Billericay, from 8-10pm, with doors opening at 7.30pm.
Membership at the club costs just £1 for the year, with entry priced at £5 per session, including free parking on site and refreshments.
Article by Kirsty Hough, The Echo