Saucer, 'Trocadero', earthenware, made by Grindley Hotel Ware Co, England, 1967, used by Trocadero ballroom, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1967-1971
This saucer, along with a matching cup in the Museum's collection, bears the crest of Sydney's Trocadero ballroom. It is an image that evokes the glamour and elegance associated with this important venue in the life of the city.
The Trocadero was a palais de dance and restaurant that was one of Sydney's best known sites of leisure and entertainment for 35 years. Known as 'The Troc', it was situated on the western side of George Street, between Bathurst and Liverpool Streets.
Established by the entrepreneur Jim Bendrodt, with backing from investors including Ezra Norton, and designed in art deco style by the architects Robertson and Marks, the Trocadero opened in April 1936. At a time when Sydney was just emerging from the Great Depression, this was a high class, stylish and beautifully appointed establishment. Nevertheless, it was a place where ordinary people could pay a small admission charge to attend dances. It became the scene of many society balls, galas, charity functions, dancing competitions, fashion parades, beauty quests, radio broadcasts, university dances and school formals.
It had a large dance floor, á la carte dining and could seat 2000 people. Joan Ford wrote that 'On the carpeted floor area, stood tables decorated with cream tablecloths and scarlet napkins. Among the glistening cutlery and glasses stood elaborate toning floral centrepieces of cream, pink and scarlet carnations, white magnolias, frangipani and tuberoses. The tables were flanked by high-backed chairs of padded cream velvet.' (Joan Ford, 'Meet Me at the Trocadero', 1995, p8).
There was a milk bar in the foyer and two refreshment bars inside offering non-alcoholic drinks. (The Trocadero had no liquor licence until the 1960s). Elaborate dessert and ice-cream sundaes were a speciality.
'Crockery, cutlery and glassware emblazoned with the Trocadero crest, were numbered in the thousands, enough to cater for any sized function. This crest depicted the spirit of the Trocadero and remained unchanged throughout its life'. (Joan Ford, 'Meet Me at the Trocadero', 1995, p10).
The Trocadero flourished under the management of Jack Musgrove. Maestro and trombonist Frank Coughlan led the Trocadero Orchestra for most of its 35 years, playing dance music, swing and jazz. During World War II, the Trocadero became popular with US servicemen who came to hear the latest sounds.
On 4 February 1954, during her first tour of Australia, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth attended a luncheon at the Trocadero.
In the mid-1950s, the big band era of swing was well on the way out, as young people were turning to rock 'n' roll. The Trocadero's management began hiring pop groups to alternate with Coughlan's band, which was reduced in numbers. From 1955 pubs were allowed to open in the evening, while television and local registered clubs offered newer forms of entertainment. By the 1960s, bookings for events at the Trocadero became less frequent, as people were less inclined to travel to the city for dancing.
The Trocadero was sometimes used as a venue for concerts by local pop bands in the 1960s. On 2 February 1969, The Twilights played their farewell Sydney performance on a bill that included a host of other Australian bands, with 5000 fans reportedly in attendance.
Hoyts Theatres purchased the Trocadero in 1967, gradually allowing it to run down and closing the venue without warning on 5 February 1971. The site was boarded up and the Trocadero was torn down to make way for the Hoyts cinema complex.
The Sydney singer/songwriter Richard Clapton lamented the closing of the Troc in his 1977 song 'Deep Water': 'They closed down the doors to the Trocadero and I came back looking just like a ghost'.
There was an auction of Trocadero memorabilia in April 1971. It is not known what happened to the double glass doors, the bevelled mirrors, the circular lounge and the many other art deco fixtures.
Made for the Sydney Trocadero by the Grindley Hotel Ware Co in England, 1967. Although the design of the Trocadero crest remained unchanged from 1936 to 1971, the printed mark '3-67' on underside indicates the month and year of manufacture, March 1967.