Legendary Witham disco to return after 29-year hiatus
By Stuart Laundy - Senior Reporter
ON May 23, 1990, The Mercury reported that 14 people were detained after disturbances at a Witham Hall disco, with 12 to appear before magistrates charged with breach of the peace and public order offences.
It was further reported that Barnard Castle Town Council members had asked the Witham Hall Community Association not to allow any more disco dances “for the time being”.
Now, 29 years later, the popular social event is being resurrected for one night only thanks to Barnard Castle friends Michelle Grancourt and Claire Robinson.
The pair decided over an afternoon lemonade that now was the time to bring the disco scene back.
Although The Witham discos were supposed to be strictly over-18 affairs, Michelle, 44 and a mum-of-two, admits to getting in as a much younger teenager to see what all the fuss was about.
Claire, who has four children aged from 13 to 27, was spurred on to help organise the disco after the success of a reunion she helped to stage when the class of 85 from Teesdale Comprehensive School got together again earlier this year.
“We had about 75 at the reunion and we found we are still these people wanting to do these things,” she said
According to Michelle, the discos were all about the music.
“It was the era of the pubs shutting in the afternoon and again at 11pm. The discos were the thing at the time.
“Someone asked me if the dance floor in The Witham was still springy so you could bounce to Come on Eileen by Dexys Midnight Runners.”
However, things could sometimes get a little out of hand.
“You had the Barney crowd and you would get the farmers coming in,” said Michelle.
“Then you would get the Cockfield lads coming down, and the Evenwood lads – and then the Barney lads would get a bit ‘protective’.”
The discos were for over 18s and there was a bar at the back of the room.
Michelle, being younger, wasn’t sure what to have, so ended up drinking lager and lime.
“The last ever one was about 30 years ago when people ended up in court,” she said.
The response to Disco Rewind, as the event is being called, has been “immense” according to the two organisers.
Michelle said: “I’ve got people from everywhere from London to Newcastle messaging me saying they can’t believe we have got another dicso.”
Others are considering dressing up in late-80s style, dungarees and all. There has also been a buzz on social media, said Michelle.
Andrew Nicholson will be the DJ on the night, when revellers can look forward to hits such as Real Gone Kid by Deacon Blue, Womack and Womack’s Teardops and the early sounds from the Manchester scene.
Disco Rewind will be held on Saturday, November 30, and tickets are £5. Michelle and Claire say that while they hope many who enjoyed the original Witham discos will come along, it is open to anyone who is aged 18-plus.