Popping back to 1984 to see how Sunderland got into a new dance craze

We're hopping back to the 1980s for a reminder of dance craze which was making its mark in Sunderland.

Tuesday, 20th November 2018, 10:00 am
Craig Hope, left, doing the swipe, Robert Brannigan, centre executing a forward flip and Simon Clark demonstrating the donkey kick.

Bodypopping had arrived in 1984 and a group of six young men were trying their best to start up a club for enthusiasts.

They certainly got the attention of an Echo reporting crew who came along to interview Ian Crookes, Billy Hughes, Robert Brannigan, Craig Hope, Garry Walshaw, and Simon Clark.

Retro 1984 Break dancing at YMCA November 20 1984 old ref number 50274 A group of six young men were trying to start their own breakdancing club at the YMCA centre in Gorse Road, Sunderland. Simon Clark, 13, does the donkey kick.

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The lads, aged 13 to 18, were “all part of the latest dance craze generating a new wave of excitement on Wearside .... bodypop and breakdancing,” said the Echo at the time.

The new trend was being heralded at the YWCA Centre in Gorse Road, in Sunderland, where they were trying to launch a breakdancing club.

The six-strong dancing squad were planning a Saturday night open session where people could come along and try out their moves “to encourage other people to join in the dance,” said our 1984 reporter.

Ian Crookes said bodypopping was doing well in Newcastle and keen followers were travelling through from Sunderland to get involved.

Three of Sunderlands breakdancers in action.

The US-originated dance styles were making their mark on Wearside partly thanks to the talents of dance tutor Vivien Leigh Smith who was teaching breakdancing to Sunderland youngsters.

They were soon getting to grips with moves such as the swipe, donkey kick, ticking and more.

The group trying to form their own club got the backing of part-time youth worker Karen Robson and YWCA full-time leader Lesley Jones who expected more than 50 people to get along to the trial night.

More than two hours of dancing was planned and all for an admission fee of 30 pence.

One of the aims was to give the youth of Wearside an outlet for all of their energy.

But there was another reason for the six young lads to be involved as they were fundraising to help the YWCA.

There were hopes that the dance night would lead to other similar occasions. Were you one of those who took part and did you go on to enjoy more great times?

Get in touch to tell us more.

Here’s some more of a reminder of what else was going on in Wearside and County Durham in 1984.

If it was a different era of dance you were after, a swinging 60s show was coming to Seaham Leisure Centre with a call for visitors to sort out their winkle-pickers and drainpipes for an event to remember.

A new weekly dance night was starting at Houghton Social Club and it would be held every Friday.

Over at the Bay Hotel in Whitburn, resident DJ Discorama was holding dance sessions on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 8pm to 1am. And there was a new Friday party scene as well with bopping from 9pm to 1am.

It was Country and Western Night at the 7th DLI OCA Club with the swinging sounds of Amigo and you could show off your floor skills at Pennywell Workmens Club where the Grand Talent Contest was pulling in the punters on a Saturday night.

Genevieves was holding a night to celebrate 20 years of rock, and at Ku Club, you could book the whole club for a Christmas night out.

Of course, from time to time, you might want a quiet night in with a telly programme or two to keep you company.

Back in 1984, that meant firm favourites such as The Noel Edmonds Late Late Breakfast Show, Bob’s Full House, Juliet Bravo, Hi-De-Hi! and Dynasty on BBC 1.

Blockbusters with Bob Holness, Cannon And Ball, Punchlines and 3:2:1 were the programmes of choice on Tyne Tees - not forgetting The Gentle Touch and The A-Team as well.

Or how about some Channel 4 alternatives such as Callan, Brookside, Streets Ahead, Pushing Up Daisies and Union World.

Let’s not forget the big screen entertainment choices on Wearside at the time including Lassiter and The Empire Strikes Back at the Fairworld Washington, and Red Dawn and Conan The Destroroyer at the ABC Sunderland.

And if it was live action you were after, how about Stanley Baxter in the Empire Theatre production of Mother Goose.

To share your own memories of 1984 Sunderland, get in touch by emailing [email protected]