Looking at back at more than 80 years at the Ocean Room nightclub
- Credit: Archant Library
Boogie nights, first kisses and many fond memories have been made at a town’s iconic, long-standing sea-side venue, which has brought friends together and ignited romances for more than 80 years.
For many living in and around Gorleston, the Ocean Rooms nightclub is a rite of passage.
Generations of families have attended formal events, boxing matches, discos and gigs at this uniquely round venue overlooking the sea.
It’s a destination which has continued to bring the community together since it was opened as the Floral Hall, dance hall, in 1939 and since it was taken over by Gordon Edwards, and his son Russell Edwards, as the Ocean Room in 1975.
Kelly Evans is the granddaughter of Gordon – who passed away 30 years ago – and is now director of the Ocean Room with her cousin Ben Jay, after her father retired just over two years ago.
The 32-year-old said: “There is no venue like it across the east coast. It is so unique. For a start its round and because we are an entertainment complex, we cater for everybody.
“We have had music events, family nights, Christmas parties, discos or sit-down functions. I could walk past someone today and they remember playing the trumpet with my grandad or when they had their first boxing match in our venue.”
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Mrs Evans' aunty Anne Perdicou, who has worked at the venue since it was taken over by her family in the 70s, said: “When it first opened, we moved our boxing events from the Garibaldi to the Ocean Room, we did functions for all the big companies in the town and we did a regular Tuesday family night.
“We used to pick up families from different campsites, we had coaches full of people and Gordon used to entertain them.
“We also had a country and western night on a Thursday which eventually turned into grab a granny night in the 1980s. We were open five or six nights a week in the very beginning.”
Mrs Evans said she has many fond memories as a little girl, spending a lot of her time with her dad and her grandfather at the venue.
“I think my favourite memories are probably the family nights,” she said. “Growing up my dad would bring me down here and I remember bubbles the clown.
“One year we had the Spice Girls tribute band and that was absolutely rammed. I was a massive fan. It was just amazing.
“My dad would give me free reign of organising the teenage discos and then, as I got older, he took a step back.”
Mondays over 14s teen disco, Thursdays over 18s and "grab a granny" night which then became the over 21s boogie nights are among the most popular events remembered by locals in the town.
On a Great Yarmouth Mercury Facebook post, we asked readers to share their memories.
Kim Drew said: “Monday night, back in the 70's. Over 14's. Best night ever. The Specials, Dexys, Madness, disco music. It was freedom when you were 14.”
Kelly Norman, added: “Thursday night rooms. Lots of great memories and also going to the Boxing Day rooms and having to queue up the road to get in with bags on our heads to stop our hair getting wet.
“Every Friday in the 80s then Thursdays when I was a little older,” said Louise Grimmer. “Met my hubby there 26 years ago.”
Mandi Morrison commented: “First date with my husband 25th September 1996, still together and have 7 children.”
“I think most kids of the 90s in Yarmouth/Gorleston met their other half up the Rooms,” said Lisa Marshall.
Sue Harvey said: “Met my fiancé on the stage, wriggled to mysterious girl by Peter Andre, 11th July 1996 boogie nights, 25 years ago. Now have 2 kiddies.”
But it also had its fair share of celebrity appearances including, Blur, S Club 7, Boyzone’s Keith Duffy, Westlife’s Brian McFadden, Mike Tyson, Tyson Fury, Joey Essex and most recently, the Rag'n'Bone Man - who appeared for a surprise performance in 2020.
In 2018, the Ocean Room also became an official Bongo’s Bingo venue – which Mrs Evans said helped to put it back on the map.
Mrs Evans added: “I think there are just a lot of memories to be had here. It seems to be the place where everybody met, whether they met their partner for the first time or met up with friends.
“My husband asked me out when I was working here one night. Loads of my friends and friends of friends, so many people have met here. Even my cousin Ben and his fiancé had their first kiss in here.
The venue recently launched its new Ibiza themed, ocean-view terrace and is eagerly awaiting June 21, when restrictions lift, to announce its events – including Boogie Nights and Club Fiesta over 18s disco - which will hopefully see people back on its dancefloor.