hammersmith palais

Hammersmith Palais, an iconic place where music and history danced together

Let’s talk of the Palais de Danse Hammersmith, affectionately known as the Hammersmith Palais. This iconic establishment has etched an indelible mark in London’s entertainment and music arena. In this article, we embark on a journey through the rich history of this enchanting venue – from its humble beginnings as a skating rink to its glorious years as the pulsating heart of London’s music scene. Join us as we delve into how the Palais de Danse Hammersmith transformed into a beacon of musical innovation, an inspiration for emerging artists, and a stage that hosted some of the greatest music legends of all time.

Photo: © Copyright Phillip Perry and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

A Dazzling Start as a Skating Rink

Back in the distant year of 1910, the Palais de Danse Hammersmith made its debut as a modest skating rink. Those times seem like a gilded era now almost forgotten, when the Palais was just setting foot on its extraordinary journey. Little did anyone know that destiny had an even brighter future in store for this eclectic establishment.

The Evocative Transformation into Palais de Danse

The pivotal year of 1919 marked a significant turning point in the history of the Palais de Danse Hammersmith. It underwent a monumental transformation, transitioning from a skating rink to the refined world of music and dance. October 28, 1919, stands as the official rebirth of the venue as Palais de Danse Hammersmith, becoming the first “palais de danse” constructed in Great Britain. This bold step laid the foundation for its extraordinary journey ahead.

Golden Era: The Heart of Black Music

The ’70s and ’80s witnessed the Palais de Danse Hammersmith rise to unparalleled prominence as the headquarters of black music in London. During this period, it evolved into a melting pot for black music, especially from the Caribbean, including reggae and roots genres. It left an indelible imprint on the city’s music culture, inviting all who sought engaging rhythms and unforgettable moments.

A Bitter Farewell

The year 2007 marked the end of an era when the Palais de Danse Hammersmith closed its doors in April. This closure reverberated deeply in the hearts of many, signifying the start of a new chapter in the venue’s storied history. In 2012, the original Palais was demolished to make way for a new construction. By September 2013, this fresh structure blossomed into a student residence, breathing new life into the site. However, for music enthusiasts, the fact that the place where so many greats once performed now houses students may feel bittersweet.

Deep Ties with Jazz Music

The Hammersmith Palais played a vital role in spreading jazz music across the United Kingdom. Its expansive stage hosted some of the most influential musicians of the time, creating a unique synergy between the art of dance and musical expression. Its walls resonated with distinct sounds that helped shape the British music landscape.

Legendary Performances and Unforgettable Moments

Legendary artists graced the stage of the Palais de Danse Hammersmith during its zenith. The Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Who, David Bowie, Elvis Costello, The Police, and Robert Plant are just a few names that rendered this venue exceptional. Each performance was an explosion of energy and creativity, and the walls of the Palais still echo with the remnants of those extraordinary moments.

During the ’60s, the Palais began hosting live concerts and disco nights, ushering in a new wave of musical innovation. However, it was in the ’70s and ’80s that the Palais truly embraced its role as the epicenter of black music in London. Captivating notes and captivating rhythms filled the air, creating indelible memories for all who were fortunate enough to be present.

An Exciting Farewell and Musical Legacy

In March 2007, the Palais de Danse Hammersmith bid a poignant farewell with concerts by artists like Kasabian, Idlewild, and Jamie T. Music reverberated within its walls one last time, yet its impact continued to thrive. Damon Albarn’s unnamed band, informally known as The Good, the Bad & the Queen, delivered an epic performance, serving as the official farewell for the Palais.

The Palais de Danse Hammersmith wasn’t just a venue; it was a cornerstone of London’s music scene. It launched careers, crafted legends, and provided a stage for emerging talents. Its enchanting architecture, memorable performances, and role in promoting black music make it an irreplaceable entity in London’s cultural history.

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