This Sunderland nightspot opened its doors to thousands of under-age clubbers
Who needs alcohol when you're having this much fun on the dance floor?
Clubbers were certainly having a great time at Bentleys in 1986, when there were special nights devoted to the teenagers of Wearside.
Sunday nights were the days in question, and one of our reporters popped along 32 years ago this week to sample the atmosphere for herself.
She said: “Propping up the beer-free bar with a pint of pop in your hand is fast becoming fashionable.
“Wander past Bentley’s nightclub on Holmeside at about 10pm on a Sunday night and you will see hundreds of teenagers spilling out of its plush interior heading for the bus home before the pubs come out.
“You will notice that they are in high spirits, and that, in a sense, is the nearest they will get to a mention of alcohol.”
Back then, Sunday night at Bentley’s was reserved for 14 to 18-year-olds who liked plenty of pop.
It didn’t matter if it was the fizzy kind or the musical version. Both were on offer in great quantities.
To refresh your memory, the night out with a difference started at 6.30pm each Sunday and, as the Echo said at the time, it attracted 6,000 young members who would otherwise have been at a loose end.
But how did it all start?
Board members had discussed the proposal and it was thought that one of the directors may have suggested the plan.
Back in 1986, manager Bill Gibbeson said: “I do not know why it has not been thought of before. It has become extremely popular in no time at all.
“The good thing is, there is never any trouble. When you treat youngsters like adults - and that is how they really want to be seen - they act grown up. And it is a pleasure to see them do it.”
Bill felt the nights filled a gap in Sunderland, and added: “When you are at that age, there is nowhere to go for the youngsters who have grown out of the local youth club. This provides an evening out.”
The great thing for the young clubgoers was Bentley’s choice of facilities. There were two dance floors, two choices of music, a bistro selling hamburgers, a choice of bars with a huge range of non-alcoholic drinks.
The Echo reporter described it as “the ultimate in sophistication”.
We spoke to some of the youngsters who were there in December 1986 and this is what they had to say.
Michelle Rogers from Roker said: “Sunday nights were boring before this,” while Susan Bradley from Town End Farm said: “It is either homework or watching the telly normally, so this is a great alternative.”
Ellen Brand of Southwick described the nights as “one of the best things that has happened to Sunderland for ages,” and added: “My dad wanted to come along, but I wouldn’t let him!”
Are you one of the people pictured at the Bentley’s teenager nights, or do you remember the Sunday fun you had? Get in touch and tell us more.
And as a reminder, here’s some of the hits you probably danced the night away to.
Europe were flying high in the charts with The Final Countdown while Berlin’s Take My Breath Away was another big hit.
Eurasia were doing well with Sometimes, and Nick Kamen had a hit with Each Time You Break My Heart.
Nell and Kim were Showing Out, while Bon Jovi had a chart favourite with Living On A Prayer.
And just think of all the television programmes you were missing by going to Bentley’s. Actually, the line-up featured some cracking shows.
What about Child’s Play, London’s Burning on Tyne Tees, The Singing Detective on BBC1, and Keep Off The Grass on Channel 4.
Or, of course, you could always go down to the town centre and take a look at the illuminations. “Be dazzled in the town centre,” said the advert that year.
And if you went down on the right day, you could enjoy wonderful entertainment while you watched the lights.
To reflect on great times, email [email protected] Let’s share the memories.