During the late 1940’s my Nan, Gerry Stanford, spent much of her Friday and Saturday evenings at various Dance Halls in Toronto. At that time she lived on Queen Street in the east end and took what she calls a long but easy streetcar ride all the way to Roncesvalles where she’d hop off on Fridays and Saturdays to meet friends and head to popular Dance Hall, the Palais Royale. As we approach our 4th annual Memory Ball taking place at the gorgeous venue new to our event, my Nan recollects on some of her time spent at the “Palais”, back when it was a public dance hall.
The hall opened in the 1920’s and quickly became the go-to destination almost every night of the week. Headed out with “the gang” who she worked with at Bell, my Nan says nearly every weekend on she and her girlfriends would meet up at The Edgewater, a hotel by Roncesvalles and Queen Street, for a pint of beer before walking over the bridge to Palais Royale for the evening.
The ladies had their regular table, would share a mickey between 7 or 8 of them, and dance the night away to the music of Big Band Bandleader Bert Niosi. Niosi, as it turns out, was a friend to both my Nan and my late Grandpa who we lost to Alzheimer’s a few years ago.
Together we sat in the sunroom of her condominium that overlooks a creek and park in Islington Village to talk about how she enjoyed the Palais Royale in its early days as a public dance hall. Please take a listen to our conversation here and get ready to spend the evening out on March 28th, 2015 surrounded by friends in a building rich with history a step-above how we typically spend our Saturday evenings.
Special thanks to my Nan, Gerry Stanford, for sharing her fond memories of Palais with me. She’s looking forward to attending this year, all of us young people will have to try to keep up with her!