Ocean Room in Gorleston: look back on 80 years of parties
Boogie nights, first kisses and lots of great memories were created at a long-standing iconic seaside location that has brought friends together and sparked romance for over 80 years.
For many people living in and around Gorleston, the Ocean Rooms nightclub is a rite of passage.
Generations of families have attended official events, boxing matches, discos and concerts in this unique location overlooking the sea.
It is a destination that has continued to bring the community together since it opened as Floral Hall, Dance Hall, in 1939 and since it was taken over by Gordon Edwards and his son Russell Edwards as Ocean Room in 1975.
Kelly Evans is the granddaughter of Gordon – who died 30 years ago – and is now manager of the Ocean Room with her cousin Ben Jay, after her father retired just over two years ago.
The 32-year-old said: “There’s no place like this on the east coast. It is so unique. To start your turn and because we are an entertainment complex, we welcome everyone.
“We have organized musical events, family evenings, Christmas parties, discos or sit-down events. I could walk past someone today and they remember playing trumpet with my grandfather or when they had their first boxing match in our hall.
Ms Evans’ Aunt Anne Perdicou, who has worked at the site since it was taken over by her family in the 1970s, said: “When it opened we moved our boxing events from Garibaldi to the Ocean Hall, we did all the big businesses in town and had a regular family home evening on Tuesday.
“We used to go looking for families at different campsites, we had coaches full of people and Gordon entertained them.
“We also had a country and western night on a Thursday that eventually turned into a grandma’s night in the 1980s. We were open five or six nights a week at the very beginning.
Ms Evans said she had many fond memories as a little girl, spending a lot of time with her father and grandfather at the scene.
“I think my favorite memories are probably family nights,” she said. “Growing up my dad would bring me here and I remember the clown bubbles.
“One year we had the Spice Girls tribute band and it was absolutely hit. I was a big fan. It was just amazing.
“My father gave me free rein in organizing teen clubs, and then as I got older he took a step back.”
Mondays over 14 teen disco, Thursdays over 18 and the ‘catch a granny’ night which then became the over 21 boogie night are some of the most popular events that locals remember.
On a Great Yarmouth Mercury Facebook post, we asked readers to share their memories.
Kim Drew said: “Monday night in the 70s. Over 14 years old. The best night of my life. The Specials, Dexys, Madness, disco music. It was freedom when you were 14.
Kelly Norman added, “The Thursday night rooms. Lots of great memories and also going to Boxing Day theaters and having to queue on the road to enter with bags on our heads to keep our hair from getting wet.
“Every Friday in the ’80s and then Thursdays when I was a little older,” said Louise Grimmer. “I met my husband 26 years ago.”
Mandi Morrison commented: “First date with my husband on September 25, 1996, still together and I have 7 children.”
“I think most of the ’90s kids in Yarmouth / Gorleston met their other half in bedrooms,” said Lisa Marshall.
Sue Harvey said: “I met my fiance on the stage, stumbled upon a mysterious girl by Peter Andre on July 11, 1996, boogie nights, 25 years ago. Now I have 2 children.
But he’s also had his fair share of celebrity appearances including Blur, S Club 7, Boyzone’s Keith Duffy, Westlife’s Brian McFadden, Mike Tyson, Tyson Fury, Joey Essex and more recently, the Rag’n’Bone Man – who appeared for a surprise performance in 2020.
In 2018, the Ocean Room also became an official bongo bingo venue – which Ms. Evans says has helped put it back on the map.
Ms Evans added: “I think there are just a lot of memories to keep here. This seems to be the place where everyone has met, whether they’ve met their partner for the first time or met friends.
“My husband asked me to go out when I was working here one evening. Lots of my friends and friends of friends, so many people have met here. Even my cousin Ben and her fiance had their first kiss here.
The venue recently launched its new Ibiza-themed ocean view terrace and is looks forward to June 21, when restrictions are lifted, to announce its events – including Boogie Nights and Club Fiesta disco for the over 18s – who will hopefully see people on their dance floor again.