Monday, 22 September 2014

Scamps, Dance Factory, Bradshawgate

Scamps advert from 1983

A lost nightclub just for a change.

Scamps opened in October 1973 in what had once been part of the Lido Cinema – later Studio 1 and 2 and the Cannon Cinema.

It was seen as an alternative to the more established nightclubs such as the Palais (later Rockefeller’s, Ritzy and Ikon) and the Cromwellian (later Maxwell’s Plum).

Just a year after opening, in December 1974, Scamps was damaged by a fire which ruined its Christmas trade. However, it re-opened in January 1975.

Around 1977/78 the management had the novel idea of lunchtime strip shows with an admission fee of 5p. 

 Real ale drinkers noted with some surprise in 1981 that Scamps was selling cask Greenall’s Bitter but at 70p a pint. [1] That was when the average price of a pint was had yet to reach 50p. It was also unusual to find Greenall’s served through a handpump. Other real ale outlets sold it via electric meter dispense. [2]

Scamps became The Dance Factory in 1983. But its main problem was that successive refurbishments made Rockefeller’s/Ikon much bigger and brasher.

The management tried to compete. This listing from 1985 showed the club advertising a personal appearance from David Bowie’s ex-wife Angie, synthpop duo Vicious Pink and an evening of mud wrestling, so it was varied fare.

By 1987 the Dance Factory was up for sale. [3] It closed a couple of years later and was converted into Laser Quest, a hi-tech shoot-em-up game where you chased your mates around narrow corridors and were given a computer print-out at the end telling you how many hits you made.

The Cannon Cinema closed in 1998. Laser Quest shut around the same time. The whole site was subsequently sold off and converted into apartments giving the occupants a grandstand view of Bradshawgate on a Saturday night.

The former Lido/Studio 1,2 and 3/Cannon Cinema on Bradshawgate pictured in May 2012. Flats now occupy the site. A Bolton News article here on cinema in Bolton shows a shot from same angle in 1986 looking at the Dance Factory on the right side of the cinema building.

[1] What’s Doing, the Greater Manchester beer drinkers monthly magazine, October 1981 issue.
[2] What’s Doing, April 1982.
[3] What’s Doing, October 1987.

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