GLASGOW in the dancehall era was an exciting place.

Times Past regular reader Dan Harris can remember what it was like in the 50s, when the city was full of ballrooms.

He got in touch to tell us the 50s made the 60s look like “an old Glasgow Sunday,” he says with a laugh.

“The teenagers and twentysomethings of the 1950s had lived through World War Two, remember,” he says.

“It was the era of the big band, of dancing at the local ballroom.

Glasgow Times: Glasgow's dancehalls were packedGlasgow's dancehalls were packed (Image: Newsquest)

“Doris Day and Glenn Miller made their names in the 1950’s. I had a collection of gramophone records bought mainly from Biggar’s and Lewis’s, started when I was a grocery ‘message’ boy.”

He adds: “American bands like Glenn Miller, Harry James, and the Dorsey brothers were jumping off the shelves.

“British bands such as Geraldo, Ted Heath - no, not that one - and Joe Loss would perform for one week at the Glasgow Empire theatre, then pop around the corner the following week for the dancers at Green’s Playhouse in its upstairs ballroom. 

“There were many more British bands coming to Glasgow in days.”

Dan adds: “My wife Marion and I spent many a happy afternoon dancing to Harry Margolis and his band doon the dunny (basement) on a Saturday afternoon in Waterloo Street. He was a great character.”

Glasgow Times: Harry Margolis and his Big BandHarry Margolis and his Big Band (Image: Newsquest)

Harry was Glasgow’s king of the swing, a big-band leader who loved to make people laugh.

Glasgow Times: Harry Margolis in 1953Harry Margolis in 1953 (Image: Newsquest)

Driving around with a large red phone on his car dashboard, even though it wasn’t attached to anything, he would often wind his window down at traffic lights, hold the phone out to a passer-by and say: “It’s for you.”

Harry was born in Shawfield and grew up in a flat on Rutherglen Road in the Gorbals, one of six children. His parents were Jewish refugees who had fled the Russian pogroms. He discovered his lifelong love of music at the age of seven, starting with the violin and graduating to the bass guitar.

Glasgow Times: Harry Margolis

His big band was a fixture on the city’s thriving music scene in the 40s and 50s, and he eventually travelled the world as bandleader, agent and entrepreneur.

Harry died on Christmas Eve, 2014, at the age of 97.

Dan Harris also recalls: “There were plenty of works’ annual dances in the 1950s too. The Glasgow burgh halls were jam-packed on a Saturday night. The doors were sometimes closed to latecomers, because the places were too full.”

Dan explains: “Then came the 1960s and with it, The Beatles - and the rapid demise of big bands.”

Do you remember the big bands, and Glasgow’s famous dance halls? Send in your photos and memories to Times Past - we would love to share them with readers.

Email or write to Ann Fotheringham, Glasgow Times, 125 Fullarton Drive, Glasgow G32 8FG.