Blackpool Tower Ballroom: 6 things you didn't know
Blackpool Tower Ballroom is the undisputed home of ballroom dancing. Dance fans and dancers of all ages and nationalities throng to this glittering mecca to strut their stuff on the famous dancefloor and soak up a bit of old-time glamour. And, as Strictly Come Dancing descends upon Blackpool this week, here are some facts about the famous ballroom that you didn't know!
It is 120 years old
The ballroom as it stands today was opened in 1899 and is world famous for its spectacular architecture. The inscription above the ballroom stage: “Bid me discourse, I will enchant thine ear”, is from Shakespeare’s Venus and Adonis. In 1956, the ballroom was virtually destroyed by a fire. Caused by a discarded cigarette end, it cost £500,000 and two years to restore it to its former glory.
14 chandeliers hang over the ballroom
Each Edwardian crystal chandelier weighs 500kg and it takes four people to lower each one down for the annual spring clean. They are dusted and wiped, and 1,120 bulbs are individually cleaned and inspected. The whole process takes over two weeks.
It’s nearly 9 times as big as the Strictly studio dancefloor
The ballroom floor measures over 12,000 square feet – far bigger than the 1,350 square feet of the Strictly studio dancefloor - and comprises of 30,602 separate blocks of mahogany, oak and walnut. Those celebs are going to have to shimmy over a lot of ground - we hope they’re in good shape!
It starred in a Hollywood film
Phantom Thread, the Oscar-winning film starring Daniel Day Lewis, features a poignant New Years’ Eve scene where Daniel’s character, the couturier Reynolds and his muse, Alma, share a romantic dance together amidst throngs of revellers. This scene was filmed in the hallowed Blackpool Tower Ballroom.
The ballroom has a “non-stop music” policy
The current Wurlitzer organ was installed in 1935. As it’s played almost on a daily basis throughout the year, it’s difficult to fit in the essential annual maintenance and tuning. Phil Kelsall is the ballroom’s longest-serving organist. He first started playing there in 1975 and still plays during the summer season. If you’re lucky, you might hear him playing YMCA as a tango! Phil was awarded an MBE in 2010 for his services to music.
Before Strictly, the ballroom hosted Come Dancing
Some of you may remember that before Strictly Come Dancing, there was a show called Come Dancing, where dancers from across the country competed for the coveted trophy. The show ran for over 50 years until it was cancelled in 1998 and counted Terry Wogan, Angela Rippon and Michael Aspel among its famous name presenters. Many episodes were filmed at Blackpool Tower Ballroom up until the end of the 80s.
How to get there
If you want to trip the light fantastic at the Tower Ballroom, hopping on one of our trains to Blackpool couldn’t be easier. The ballroom is located just a 12-minute walk from Blackpool North station. If you’re not ready to show off your dancing skills just yet, you can enjoy a delicious afternoon tea in the ballroom while you watch others twirl around the floor. You can also sleep in it - you just need to find 199 friends who want to sleep there too!
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