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‘I almost lived there’ - promoter Barry’s memories of the First Floor Club in Ipswich in Days Gone By

PUBLISHED: 18:00 12 August 2020

First Floor Club staff with ITFC footballers - Barry Dye, Mick Mills, Mick Hill, Janet, Ken Bean, cabaret artist Davy Clinton, Jimmy Robertson and

First Floor Club staff with ITFC footballers - Barry Dye, Mick Mills, Mick Hill, Janet, Ken Bean, cabaret artist Davy Clinton, Jimmy Robertson and "Digger" Crane. Picture: SUPPLIED BY BARRY DYE

PAUL SHERWOOD/BARRY DYE

Promoter Barry Dye remembers he practically lived at the First Floor Club in Ipswich in the 1970s - so our recent nostalgia feature brought back memories for him.

Did you take part in a Go Go dancing contest at the First Floor Club in October 1971? Cindy Dye was a winner Picture: PAUL NIXONDid you take part in a Go Go dancing contest at the First Floor Club in October 1971? Cindy Dye was a winner Picture: PAUL NIXON

Today we are sharing some photos from Barry’s collection taken at the club, as well as images from Archant’s archives.

Betty Smith and The Sonics. Betty used to be with the famous Ivy Benson Band before going solo as a cabaret act Picture: SUPPLIED BY BARRY DYEBetty Smith and The Sonics. Betty used to be with the famous Ivy Benson Band before going solo as a cabaret act Picture: SUPPLIED BY BARRY DYE

Barry said: “Ken Bean bought it in 1966, and having got to know him before then, he invited the band I was with, The Sonics, to play there and our first booking was in 1967.

Bob Monkhouse with the Sonics at the First Floor Club Picture: SUPPLIED BY BARRY DYEBob Monkhouse with the Sonics at the First Floor Club Picture: SUPPLIED BY BARRY DYE

Barry was the drummer with the band. He recalls: “We backed many of the cabaret acts who appeared there every week - including some of the star cabarets such as Bob Monkhouse, Roy Castle, Paul Daniels, Warren Mitchell. Iris Williams, Tammy Jones, etc.

The Hair Band in 1970 , with Maxine Nightingale, Peter Straker and backed by the Alex Harvey Band.  Picture: SUPPLIED BY BARRY DYEThe Hair Band in 1970 , with Maxine Nightingale, Peter Straker and backed by the Alex Harvey Band. Picture: SUPPLIED BY BARRY DYE

MORE: Photos of big nights out at First Floor Club

“In 1972 I set up my entertainment agency and soon after that I was also booking the acts who appeared there. This is a club that I was so involved with that I felt that I almost lived there!

A Miss First Floor Club crowning in October 1978 with Ken Bean handing over the prize. Picture: PAUL NIXONA Miss First Floor Club crowning in October 1978 with Ken Bean handing over the prize. Picture: PAUL NIXON

“I also met my wife Cindy there, so I do have a very special attachment to the place.“ Barry’s wife Cindy vividly remembers winning a dancing marathon contest at the club in 1971.

Comedy entertainer Mike Felix with Barry Dye Picture: SUPPLIED BY BARRY DYEComedy entertainer Mike Felix with Barry Dye Picture: SUPPLIED BY BARRY DYE

Apart from the First Floor, Barry also used to book acts into Tracys, in Greyfriars. He said: “I got to know the Management of Tracys very well. They were F & H Entertainments who had clubs scattered around the country. I still have the ‘special’ membership card they gave me.”

The Mini-Tones, a musical act, withThe Sonics. One of the Mini Tones, Kenny Baker, was inside R2 D2  in Star Wars Picture: SUPPLIED BY BARRY DYEThe Mini-Tones, a musical act, withThe Sonics. One of the Mini Tones, Kenny Baker, was inside R2 D2 in Star Wars Picture: SUPPLIED BY BARRY DYE

MORE: Memories of the 1970s at the Golden Hind

During the mid-70s, Barry also got involved with Lafayettes, the club in the middle of the roundabout in Princes Street.

A Miss Hot Pants competition at the First Floor Club in June 1971. Picture: RICHARD SNASDELLA Miss Hot Pants competition at the First Floor Club in June 1971. Picture: RICHARD SNASDELL

He said: “I put many bands in there including popular local duo Pea Green Philharmonic Pullover Set. I also booked all the cabaret acts every week - these included Paul Daniels, Jim Davidson and many others, including Clive Webb ,the zany comedy magic act.

Barry Dye at the First Floor Club with comedian and singer Tony Wells Picture: SUPPLIED BY BARRY DYEBarry Dye at the First Floor Club with comedian and singer Tony Wells Picture: SUPPLIED BY BARRY DYE

“Access was via the subways, so it was a nightmare for bands carrying equipment to play there. One night when The Sonics played there, we backed the brilliant Karen Kay, who was an international cabaret entertainer - singer, impressionist, comedian. A lovely lady, who insisted on helping us to carry all our equipment out at the end of the night. Karen’s son is Jay Kay of the band Jamiroqui.”

• What are your memories of the First Floor Club, Tracys and Lafayettes? Send us an email or write to Judy Rimmer, Newsroom, 120 Princes Street, Ipswich, Suffolk, IP1 1RS.


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