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Old Popular Dance Halls on the St. Margaret’s Bay Road

Submitted by: Devonna Edwards

Dance bands or orchestras were especially popular from the 1900s until the early 1960s. All communities had at least one dance hall and always featured live musicians. Dance halls were very busy on the week-ends and drew crowds of people who loved to dance.

It didn’t matter to people that these halls on the St. Margaret’s Bay Road were a fair distance, the good time had by all was well worth the drive. The establishments didn’t serve alcohol beverages, but everyone was expected to bring their own liquor and keep it hidden under the tables. The law concerning drinking and driving was slack and most drove home under the influence. At times the police would pull a car over to the side of the road for driving erratically, and the driver was told to leave their car on the side of the road and get home the best way they can. At a time when there were no cell phones that meant hitchhiking in the wee hours of the morning and sometimes in bad weather, but that was the way it was back then.

In the 1940s “The Swing” was king of all dances and the song by the Andrew Sisters called “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” was a popular dance song which is still played frequently at dances today.

In the 1950s was the era of the Jitterbug also known as Jive, Bill Haley and the Comets with their song “Rock Around the Clock” was the rage.

In the 1960s “The Twist” was the hot new dance sung by Chubby Checker.

The Med-O-Club

This busy dance club was located in the Beechville area on the St. Margaret’s Bay Road, three and half miles from the Arm Bridge.

It was situated near where “The Rubber Duck” car wash business stands today near Lovett Lake.

The Cabaret was in existence from the late 1940s until the mid-1960s, hosting floor shows, dancing and fine foods for which they were famous for their sea foods.

The Don Warner Band played at this upscale dance hall one night a week, singing with the band were two popular girl singers; Grace Boutilier and Doreen Hanrahan who always wore beautiful gowns. There were no liquor licenses at that time and people brought their own liquor. The drinks were kept in brown paper bags on the floor by their feet, because liquor was not allowed to be seen on the table.

The Shangri-La Dance Hall

Shangri- La means, “A remote beautiful imaginary place where life approaches perfection.”

The Shangri-La was a high-end dancing and dining establishment that was located on St. Margaret’s Bay Road in what is considered Upper Tantallon today. The building is still standing across from Tantallon Woods. Jack Campbell purchased the structure and added a second storey, he then used it as a warehouse. His son John now owns the property, he also owns the Sou’ Wester Restaurant at Peggy’s Cove. John said that the white building, formerly known as the Shangri-La still looks pretty much the same inside. The raised stage is still there. John’s father Jack also owned the Lobster Pound in Peggy’s Cove and when he took a door from the old Shangri-La building to be used in his Lobster Pound, he noticed that on the other side of the door the word “Shangri-La” was written on it.

Before the Shangri-La came into being, a man by the name of Beamish owned the building and called his dance hall “Luenledge.”

The Leghorn Bar-B-Q

The Leghorn restaurant and dance hall opened in the 1950s, it was a very popular dance and eating establishment known for its great entertainment and delicious chicken dinners. It was also located on St. Margaret’s Bay Road in Five Island Lake, Hubley, 12 miles outside Halifax. Today the location where the building once stood is across the street from Bird Song Lane in Foxwood Village subdivision.

A large chicken farm stood in back of the establishment which supplied the restaurant with its chicken suppers. The first owner of the Leghorn and chicken farm was John Dube, who also had a take-out canteen called the Rainbow canteen next door to the Leghorn. Also located on the property, was a large out-door screen which provided movie entertainment, said to be the first out-door movie screen in the area before the Bay Road Drive-In. A good time was always had by the patrons who danced the night away to great band music not to mention the wonderful chicken dinners they served. The menu was simple, chicken only! It was also a place where you brought your own liquor, but of course hidden under the table. In the earlier years, Art Doucette and his band played there. Inside the building a grand old jukebox stood against one wall and was used during the bands intermission, another memorable feature was the beautiful beach stone fireplace which occupied another wall.

Joe Mannette owned the Leghorn from 1967 to 1970, the building was then sold to a man named Recardo who opened a new business called Recardo’s Market and take-out, which was a grocery store and Pizza take-out. The building burnt down in 1977 and the fire was blamed on an electrical problem.

The Sea Breeze Hotel

The hotel was located in Queensland, on the St. Margaret’s Bay Road, 28 miles from Halifax. In 1949 it was owned by A. Frederick Hubley who had a hotel and seven cabins on his property to rent out. The hotel consisted of 25 bedrooms of which only 14 had running water and it was advertised as being steam heated. The Sea Breeze Hotel also had a wonderful view of the sea and on hot nights in the summer, the visitors enjoyed a lovely sea breeze from the nearby ocean. The establishment was popular for its talented entertainment and dancing in later years. It closed down in the early 1990s, and was later demolished. The site still remains vacant today.

Photo of the Sea Breeze Hotel

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