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'Ballroom'



It’s 1979, it’s Hogmanay and the grey streets of Aberdeen are buzzing in anticipation of the beginning of a new decade and the traditional piss up which will herald it. The 1980s were about to get underway and to celebrate the occasion, eighteen-year-old Theresa Main and two friends are attending the cities Beach Ballroom dancing. She is dressed in her Christmas present, a pleated frock of faux satin, blue, to bring out her eyes, and her brown locks are freshly blow-dried to Farah Fawcett perfection. To protect herself from the inevitable North Sea breeze she has liberated a beautiful and expensive fur lined overcoat from her mother’s wardrobe. She does indeed look like the belle of said ballroom and every bloke within plain sight of her will acknowledge it.

The plan is to be noticed by anyone and everyone and to stand out from the crowd. To find a male suitor who can provide all financial needs of a young lady. The ritual is common in seventies Scotland and none more so than rapidly enriching new oil capital of Europe. The only trouble being that 1979 Aberdeen is not yet up to speed with the ever-evolving fashions of the time and shops to buy clothes were few and far between. That night, Theresa clocks at least three other girls wearing that same frock and countless others in different shades of red, green or yellow. The amount of Farah Fawcett hairstyles… uncountable. To stand out, Theresa would rely solely on her youthful face and virgin beauty.

The entertainment inside the Beach Ballroom that night was to be provided by local celebrity and cabaret act Ronnie Lawson, pronounced in Doric as Ronnie LA-SIN. On paper of posters, Ronnie was a singer, on stage he was an out of tune poser with trademark wit and stage presence to cover up for up for his remarkably average singing voice. Ronnie had masqueraded as a singer for almost three decades since being discharged from the army with ‘severe homesickness’ in the fifties. As the front man for several failed bands and acts in the late fifties and early sixties, Ronnie’s opportunity came at the beginning of the sixties. Back then, the Aberdeen live entertainment scene was purged with many a daydreaming musician making their way across the North Sea to Belgium and then on to Hamburg, Germany in the delusional hope of emulating the meteoric rise of The Beatles. Ronnie’s homesickness served him well in this instance as a fear of travelling meant he stayed behind and cleaned up the local scene. Ronnie was the main cabaret singing act for the city’s workman clubs, social clubs and dance halls. The 1970s saw Ronnie’s local celebrity rise to unprecedented levels with the aid of North Sea Oil and the subsequent overpriced corporate function gigs and a place in the 58th Freemasons Lodge of St. Machar Aberdeen.

Though he was a short man, Ronnie’s Mediterranean look was always appealing to the female attendees of these gigs. Despite his 48 years he had kept a strong head of tight black curls and a powerful, thick black moustache. His collection of silk shirts open to mid chest provided a perfect frame for his gloriously hirsute chest and to provide further distraction to his debatable singing skills. The tight white flares he wore on stage at the ballroom had little ball-room and supplied a vividly three-dimensional impression of his sizeable and well used tadger. Always dressed to the left.

To the stage he took that night with his hilariously named band ‘The Seamen.’ A band immaculately well dressed and without the slightest hint of consciousness to the alternate meaning of their name. Ronnie immediately has the crowd eating out his hand as the women and men gawk at their local hero.

Some of the local footballing talent are in attendance but even Aberdeen football players take a back seat as Ronnie marauds the boards of the Beach Ballroom Stage.

At the bar a young Dons player asks Theresa to dance, she does so and as the pair slosh to Ronnie and The Seamen’s version of Daniel Boone’s ‘Beautiful Sunday’, from the stage, Ronnie’s eyes lock on to young Theresa’s. He is momentarily flustered but ramps up the performance for the chorus moving to the front of the stage, left leg upon the floor monitor thrusting his hips forward to every ‘Hi, Hi, Hi’ every ‘My, My, My’ and every ‘Say, Say, Say.’ in the chorus before ending the chorus by changing the lyrics from ‘It’s a beautiful day,’ to ‘You’re a beautiful dame’ as he flicks a wink and one last thrust of that package at a now blushing Theresa.

The bells ring, the seventies are over, and the eighties are now underway. Nine months into the new decade in the early hours of Saturday, September 6th, at the age of eighteen, Theresa found herself in Aberdeen’s Foresterhill Maternity Hospital giving birth to her first-born son Michael Ronald Lawson who weighed seven pounds and four ounces. She shares the joyous moment with her own Mother and Father. There is joy and tears, there are hopes and fears as this little boy first meets his mother.

Across town, Ronnie Lawson, ‘The Singer', is ball deep in groupie, in the back of his steamy windowed Gold Cortina.