Elsie and Bobby Smith started giving dancing lesson in Monarch Parade in the early 1940s, according to a contributor to the Facebook Mitcham History Group. An ad from 1962 said that they had been established for 21 years, giving their start year as 1941.
In 1947, this ad shows that they were teaching at the Majestic cinema:
Learn to Dance at Mitcham’s Most MODERN BALLROOM
Romany School of Dancing
Elsie & Bobby Smith (N.A.T.D.)
now at Majestic Mitcham.
Beginners Classes : Mon & Thurs
Intermediate Classes : Tues & Fri
Dances : Wed & Sat.
Private Lessons by Appointment
They then moved to their own premises at the rear of 482 London Road, and named it the Romany Club de Danse. The opening night was 17th July 1950:
Norwood News – Friday 14 July 1950 Image © Trinity Mirror. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. From the British Newspaper Archives
Elsie Smith, photo taken in the garden of the Romany dance school garden
This ad from 1959 gives times and prices:
Elsie and Bobby Smith, N.A.T.D., invite you to dance at the
482, London Road, Mitcham.
Strict beginners classes, Mondays & Thursdays, 8-10.30, 2/6.
Beginners and Intermediate
Old Time 8-11 2/6.
Over 25’s Beginners 8-11
Children’s Ballroom Class
SATURDAY CLUB DANCES TO “ROMANY BAND”.
PRIVATE LESSONS BY APPOINTMENT DAILY
For Enquiries : ‘Phone MITCHAM 4329.
STAGE BRANCH : Ballet – Tap – Modern Dance – Acrobatic Class Daily
This 1953 OS map shows the Dance Hall:
1953 OS Map
In 1954, ‘the undefeated Star Professional Champions’ Wally Fryer and Violet Barnes demonstrated there:
Norwood News – Friday 07 May 1954
Image © Trinity Mirror. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.
Ad from 1962 shows the introduction of a ‘Rock n Roll Club’ on Saturday nights:
Text of ad:
‘ROMANY’ School of Dancing
Est. 21 years
Principals : Elsie and Bobby Smith, N.A.T.D.
482 LONDON RD, MITCHAM (opp. Mitcham Stn.). Tel. MIT 4329
Monday – BEGINNERS ONLY, expert tuition, 8-10.30 p.m. 2/6
Tuesday – HOLIDAY COURSE CLASS, 8-10.30 p.m. ……… 2/6
(Special tuition for every kind of holiday dancing)
Thursday – BEGINNERS and INTERMEDIATE, 8-10.30 p.m. 2/6
Friday – Over 25s, Beginners and Intermediate, 8-10.30 p.m. 2/6
Saturday morning – Children’s Ballroom, 10.30 a.m. – 12 noon ……1/-
Saturday night – ROCK ’N’ ROLL CLUB, 7.30-11 p.m. …… 3/-
Sunday – OLD TIME CLASS and PRACTICE, 7.30-10.30 p.m. 3/-
STAGE BRANCH – Tuesdays and Fridays, 4.30 p.m.
Private Lessons Daily
In 1959, Thelma took the Amateur Ballroom Tests at the school, and was awarded bronze for Good movement and correct footwork in the Waltz, Foxtrot and Quickstep. She kept her certificates and provided these via the Facebook Mitcham History Group. Thanks, Thelma!
Her aunt, Edith, also achieved the Bronze Seal:
Maps are reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland.