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The Blackpool Tower Ballroom is home to a wealth of things to see and do, with activities for a range of people. It presents the opportunity for dancers and spectators alike to enjoy ballroom dancing in a spectacular and historic location.
Few locations in the UK are quite as elegant and quaint as the Ballroom. The venue has provided dancers with a beautiful backdrop for their routines since the end of the 19th century, and is as popular as ever today.
Blackpool Tower Ballroom – History
The Ballroom first opened as a small pavilion at the front of the tower in 1894. However, in response to the opening of the Empress Ballroom, an extended site was designed and built. Designed by Frank Matcham, the Ballroom as we know it today opened officially in 1899. Frank Matcham also designed Blackpool’s Grand Theatre.
The glamour and scale of the location is truly immense, even by today’s standards. The floor measures over 12,000 square feet, and is overlooked by over 30,000 separate blocks for spectators. The mahogany, walnut, and oak blocks have been giving audiences a stellar view of dance shows for over a century.
The venue’s first Wurlitzer organ was installed in 1929, later being replaced by a new one in 1935. The Wurlitzer features 14 ranks, giving it a rich and vibrant sound. Its design was specified by Reginald Dixon, who played the instrument up until his retirement in 1970. Phil Kelsall has been playing the famous organ since 1975.
The Tower Ballroom was damaged by a large fire in 1956, which destroyed the flooring and restaurant beneath. At a cost of approximately £500,000, restoration took two years, and many famous designers came out of retirement to help with the project.
In 1971 the Ballroom was listed as a Grade I building, together with the Tower’s circus and Roof Garden.
Blackpool Tower Ballroom – Events
The Ballroom is home to all manner of events, ranging from casual and fun activities, to world-renowned competitions.
If you want to get a sense of the grandeur of the place, but don’t have much confidence in your dance abilities, you can enjoy an afternoon tea experience. This is a great idea for groups who want to experience the venue in a more laid back style.
Alternatively, experience the Wurlitzer in all of its glory with an exclusive VIP experience. Package deals include a demonstration, and the chance to play the legendary instrument.
It is even possible to sleep in the venue, with space for up to 200 people to experience this simultaneously.
The Ballroom also plays host to BBC dance competition Strictly Come Dancing. First appearing in 2004, the show has broadcasted a live special at the venue every season since 2013. The location is hailed as legendary in Strictly lore, and for good reason.
Blackpool Tower Ballroom – Dance Competitions
The grand setting of the Blackpool Tower Ballroom makes it a popular location for dance competitions, with an array being held at the venue.
One such event is the Junior Blackpool Dance Festival, traditionally held at the venue, and running since 1947. The festival focuses on three types of dancing; Latin American, Ballroom, and Sequence. The seven day competition sees youngsters from a variety of nations compete against each other, with 400 couples from 33 countries taking part in the 2018 edition. The next competition is due to take place in April 2019.
On the other side of the dance spectrum, the 2019 edition of the Hip Hop UK Street dance competition will be held at the venue. Scheduled for February 3rd, 2019, the event brings hip hop communities and performers together to compete.
Similarly, the location will host the grand final of the Disco Kid, King & Queen Championship. The event showcases true disco, and rewards participants for displaying funky moves.
In March 2019, the Ballroom will play host to the annual World Modern Jive Championships. The competition features a set of rules and expectations, with lots of fun to be had for participants and spectators.
A large positive aspect of the competition is how suited it is to every skill level. The championships feature categories for almost every possible dancer, including amateurs. There is an entry level category only for those who have no dance experience, and categories for participants with more extensive experience. Prizes are generous amongst each group.
Blackpool Tower Ballroom – Hiring the Venue
It is possible to hire the venue, to host events, competitions, or proceedings. Blackpool Tower’s parent company, Merlin Entertainments, deal with this aspect of the Ballroom.
To investigate hiring the venue, get in touch with Merlin’s North West team.
Main Image Blackpool Tower Ballroom © SeanConboy.com
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Frank Matcham Theatres