Re-Strictly Ballroom

What is it about the decision to give the "£10 million" Rivoli Ballroom listed status that Bill Mannix, its current owner, isn't happy about?

Yesterday, the News Shopper reported him as saying:

"I'm very angry, actually. There might be another bid, but this would just blight the whole thing."

The deals that listed status will jeopardise are the ones in which the new owner planned to destroy the form or function of the building, ie: precisely the kind of development that, only weeks ago, Bill told the newspapers he didn't want:

"I don't want the place knocked down for flats and houses. The council says it's a jewel in the crown and it really is just that."

Apparently, what really gets Bill's goat is that:

"When we needed help in the past English Heritage was nowhere to be seen. I approached them about 10 years ago for financial help to keep the place going when we had to put in disabled toilets and meet new regulations."

But English Heritage clarified:

"As far as financial assistance goes, before now the building would not have been listed so it would not have been eligible for funding."

In other words, there would potentially have been help on offer, had listed status been applied for. But then, that would have limited the opportunities for a quick sale at a later date.

Running a successful Ballroom is undoubtedly a difficult job and Bill may be right when he says that "ballroom dancing is dying out. The Rivoli was really well used but times and cultures have changed and now we have to import an audience to fill the place," but then again, maybe all's not lost.

What listed status does is give the Rivoli Ballroom a new chance to succeed - to show that a venue that's been used for everything from S Club videos to Agent Provocateur shoots and a White Stripes gig does have a future.

And that's why we have a planning system that balances private profit with public good.


Anonymous said...

I went to an evening out there a few months ago, on an invitation of a friend.
When I pulled up in a fastback (taxi) waring a DJ the door stewards looked at the wife (in cocktail dress) and smiled 'knowingly'. There were lots of women standing outside with very, very sexy outfits on. Perhaps this was it? But the look of the bouncers faces, males, had my radar fully switched on. It was only when I got to the cloakroom I realised that the fancy dress party held there was a thinly-disguised 'tranny' night.
The wife got chatted up by a transvestite plumber dressed as a Thunderbirds puppet, I posed for a photo with a guy who had better legs than Ginger Rogers (with one leg wrapped round me), and we still argue whether the stripper was Adam or Eve. Whatever, the stripper and band were superb, as was the venue.
Long reign the Rivoli.

Anonymous said...

I think Mr & Mrs Mannix have kept the place going as a very 'unexpected' and unique place (... the last comment by anon shows one example of why it wasn't always what it seemed... ) against the odds, and I have never believed they intended to sell to someone who would just tear it down or drastically change it. The fact that they recently built on more modern studio/rehearsal space supprts their intention to sell it on a a dance facility.

Newspaper and internet reports are not always accurate and Mr Mannix is ill, so he may feel two ways about things at times. I think the listed status is a very good thing, but I can see that there could be worries for a buyer, even of the most sympathetic kind, about future costs and bureaucracy.

I can believe that he tried to seek help before from EH or other bodies, could have been unsuccessful for a number of reasons; They have done things in their own way, very successfully. It is one of a very small handful of 'hidden treasures' in the UK that I have come across where private ownership of something that would normally be a 'National Trust' type place has kept preserved its unique look and character but also kept its living/breathing/working character.

Good thing it is listed so their work can be preserved and I hope he ultimately realises that. I can understand why he is worried, but I think it is the only way now.

Bea said...

The Ballroom got a one minute sound bite at the end of BBC London News this morning. Apparently is it now officially listed and will receive funding from English Heritage!

Anonymous said...

Make your mind up Bill! see below....

Was on the London news tonight as well too but I just missed it.

Pete said...

There was quite a long feature on the Rivoli last night on BBC London news with one of the judges from Strictly Ballroom. Bill Mannix was interviewed and said how pleased he was that it had been given listed status.

He must have changed his mind when he was given more time to think about it.

Brockley Nick said...

That's one theory, yes.

Anonymous said...

I don't think he has changed his mind so much as the reporting on this (I don't mean on Brockley Central - I realise you have tried to get to the bottom of things and am grateful this was highlighted) that has given us a confusing picture. The reason i keep on pushing on this is that I feel he is is being given an unfair press. When I have spoken to him it is clear that he cares a great deal about what happens ot the place; that they have had problems getting help from public bodies in the past - and that he is unwell. I think the owners should be given credit for what they have done to have preserve this place. Boring to repeat, I know, but they would not have gone to the expense of adding dance studio and changing room facilities at the back if they planned to sell it on to developers who were going to knock it down for flats.

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