12:08pm Tuesday 30th December 2008
By Keith Hamilton
It does not seem possible that it is almost 20 years since Southampton’s unique entertainment venue and ballroom, the Top Rank Suite, was demolished.
Now, two decades later, an Internet social networking site has been formed by local people who fondly remember evenings at the Top Rank Suite.
Facebook’s ‘Top Rank Nightclub Southampton, we salute you!’ group has attracted scores of people who have posted nostalgic memories from when the suite was at the height of its popularity.
As more and more reminiscences appear on the Internet there is a possibility that later this year a reunion, featuring music that used to be played at the Top Rank, will be held in Southampton. Charlotte Barrett and Pete Shearing who both were regulars at the venue are hoping to organise the nostalgic get-together.
Former Southampton people who now live abroad or in other parts of Great Britain have joined almost 100 fans of the Top Rank on the website.
Over the years many famous acts appeared on the revolving stage at the building which once stood at Banister Park, the site of the old Stadium.
When the Top Rank, as it was always known to the crowds of people who flocked to the suite on most nights of the week, opened its doors for the first time back in the mid-1960s, Southampton had never seen anything like it.
The Top Rank, which was known as The Mayfair towards the end of its life, came at the height of the Swinging Sixties and was an entirely new concept for the city with a nightclub, dance hall and disco all under one roof.
Overlooking the huge dance floor was a first-floor balcony with a bar and tables and chairs that ran around three sides of the suite.
Pop groups and discos were the mainstay of the Top Rank but it was also used by many local organisations for dinner dances, including the annual Southampton Press Ball which featured cabaret acts including Jimmy Tarbuck, Ted Ray, The Brothers Lee and the late Roy Castle.
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