Help save Bolton’s Palais De Danse

House of Grace is finally coming. I hope to launch it in the new year, so watch this space.

Grace meets Jack in Bolton’s Palais De Danse. This beautiful building which now risks being demolished. I never got to visit this wonderful venue when I lived in Bolton because I was too young. We moved when I was only eleven but I always hoped that one day I would return and get a chance to view it.

Members from Facebook Bolton’s Palais De Danse allowed me to see inside it through their memories which they shared to me when I was researching for House of Grace.

Now it’s my turn to return the favour and help them by highlighting the threat to this building.

To sign the petition go to:

Also check out Bolton’s Palais De Danse information page

The following is an extract from House of Grace on the night she visits the Palais and meets Jack. Enjoy.

Extract taken from House of Grace – Part I –  Chapter 4.

I looked up at the sign. ‘Astoria Palais de Danse.’

‘Yes,’ Katy answered, ‘only we Boltonians call it the Palais. Come on, let’s go in.’

We waved goodbye to James. He promised to come and pick us up when the dance finished. The foyer was just inside the door and Katy handed over the banknote to the uniformed cashier who returned six shillings. Katy took my arm and led me towards a door on the left. As we entered, I took in the plush powder room. Big white mirrors hung either side of the wall, above swish red and gold chairs. We checked our hair and make-up then descended more stairs to a large cloakroom where we left our coats.

Katy said we needed to meet Jack and Eddie at eight o’clock under the clock in the ballroom. It was nearly time, so we headed that way. Lots of young couples waltzed around the dance floor, the men, dressed in plain suits with shirts and ties. Red, blue and spotted dresses twirled in direct contrast to tight black pencil skirts. We headed towards the clock situated by the left of the balcony. There was quite a crowd waiting. Two young men swaggered through the door in long brown draped jackets and narrow legged trousers. As they drew closer I noticed frayed hems and shiny patches on their coats.

‘Close your mouth,’ Katy said, ‘you look like you’re catching flies.’

I put my hand over it to stop me sniggering and signalled towards what was making me laugh.

Katy was horrified. ‘You’re such a snob, Grace Granville.’ She waved to the new arrivals.

I realised it must be Jack and Eddie. Shame consumed me.

The young men smiled as they approached.

‘Jack. Eddie.’ Katy pointed and then reached out to Jack to give him a brotherly hug. She kissed Eddie on the lips.

‘This is Grace,’ Katy said.

Jack took my hand, lifted it to his face and kissed it gently. ‘Pleased to meet you, Grace,’ he said.

Eddie finally took his eyes off Katy to say hello to me. When no one was looking she scowled in my direction. I mouthed I was sorry and sensed her softness returning.

Jack was tall and slim. Although his draped suit was ragged, I could tell the Venetian silk mohair was good quality fabric. Once he started chatting and I looked up into his grey blue eyes, the clothes didn’t matter. Blonde curls flicked across his forehead.

‘Come on, let’s dance,’ he said. ‘It’s The Fat Man, by Fats Domino.’

 He led me to the centre of the floor. Before long he was swinging me under his arms and making me twirl. I hadn’t expected a coal miner to have such immaculate timing. After a while we went up to the balcony for coffee and a pastry. There was no sign of Eddie and Katy but she’d given me three shillings from the change earlier.

‘I’ll get them,’ I told Jack, but he wouldn’t hear of it. He marched up to the counter and ordered cake and two coffees at sixpence each.

We sat down. Jack lifted the cup to his mouth. ‘Mmm,’ he said, ‘sugar, unusual these days.’ He smiled. ‘I don’t know, the war’s been over for five years, you’d think sugar rationing would be lifted by now.’

We laughed together. I was having a wonderful time. My heart beat fast, my tummy had more butterflies than a buddleia in bloom. We were so engrossed with each other’s company that we didn’t notice Katy and Eddie arrive at the table sipping coffees. It was only when I recognised her laugh, I looked up.

‘Ah, Gracie,’ she said, ‘having a good time?’

I smiled, pleased she’d forgiven me.

‘Shall we go back downstairs and do a bit more dancing?’ Jack asked.

Excited, we all headed back down. I was Cinderella at the ball. I’d only ever danced with girls at school. Yet here I was, gliding around the ballroom with Jack.

We must have danced every Waltz, Foxtrot, Quick Step, Rumba and of course the famous Jive. My feet had never moved so much. The clock struck twelve and the band went silent. Everyone rushed to the cloakroom to collect coats and outdoor shoes. When we walked out of the building, James was ready with the car. We all squashed up on the back seat, leaving me very close to Jack. My heart pounded, I was sure he could hear it and tried hard to silence it, to no avail.




Also check out Bolton’s Palais De Danse information page


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