Friday, October 18, 2019

The Blue Rhythmaires from Ballymena

I picked up this old dance card recently, for the annual dance of Ballykeel LOL No 472 at the Protestant Hall in Ballymena. Two years after World War 2 you can see signs of the world changing - I am pretty sure that the band 'The Blue Rhythmaires' weren't playing fiddles and accordions for traditional country dancing! More likely to have been Glenn Miller style 'big band' sound with jazz, blues and ragtime influences.

A dig through the British Newspaper Archive shows that they were kept very busy in the late 1940s, at Ahoghill Orange Hall and Craigywarren Orange Hall - with the dancing from 9pm till 2am! I wonder how that was regarded in conservative mid Antrim in that era?

According to the Ballymena Observer report of the event - a week later on 28 March - "so large was the attendance that at the traditional opening there was scarcely enough room for the participating members". The band leader of The Blue Rhythmaires was a Wilson Gordon and "dancing continued to a late hour and the ball was voted one of the best this season".