EXHIBITION NEWS May 2017 - Page 65

VENUE The Beach Ballroom AFTER HOURS Leeds Taking a break from an exhibition at the fi rst direct arena? Why not pop into some of EN’s favourite haunts AberdeenÕ s historic art deco venue by the sea is back with a vengeance after an extensive refurbishment. When asked to name the top selling point of the Beach Ballroom as an event venue, Aberdeen City Council area manager Ray Douglas is unhesitating in his answer. “The location of the Ballroom is a defi nite attraction,” he explains. “It’s down at the beachfront, it’s far easier to park here than in the city centre but it’s still only a ten minute drive from Aberdeen’s main street.” Another attraction of the Beach Ballroom is undeniably its character. Built in 1929, the council-owned art deco venue began as a predominantly entertainment and dancing-focused venue. “A lot of people have met their husbands or wives here,” continues Douglas. “There’s a nostalgia factor for people who like the idea of coming back here ten or twenty years after meeting their partner. They love what we’ve done in updating it. We’ve taken it back to its art deco roots.” One of the main elements of the refurbishment was replacing the sprung Canadian maple wood dance fl oor in 2009. “That work was carried out at great expense, because Historic Scotland insisted that we put it back in its original state,” adds Douglas. Within the city itself, the main competition for the Ballroom is Aberdeen’s Music Hall and the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre (AECC). The Music Hall closed in Spring 2016 to undergo a two-year refurbishment, and the AECC is in the midst of a move to a brand new venue, opening in 2019. So, it would seem, now is the time for the Ballroom to come into its own as the city’s go-to event venue. “Predominantly we are a venue for hire for corporate business,” says Douglas. “With the current fi nancial system corporate business has gone down, and we’ve been diversifying our market into weddings, parties, exhibitions and conferences – basically anything we can get in the building.” The Ballroom also has one thing most hotel conference and meeting rooms can’t offer: character. As Douglas points out, it’s a blank canvas, but the octagonal shape means it’s far from being a characterless box. It’s clear that the Beach Ballroom has a chance to establish itself as a venue for exhibition organisers in Aberdeen, all that remains to be seen is whether it will be able to seize that opportunity. ESSENTIALS STAY 1. County Arcade 1. Chambers Park Place Opened in 1900, the County Arcade is a beautiful art deco Victorian arcade, designed by the same architect as the London Palladium and Blackpool’s Tower Ballroom. For a truly fi ve-star experience, stay at The Chambers, which offers luxury serviced apartments in Leeds city centre. 2. White Cloth Gallery The White Cloth Gallery showcases some of the most exciting photography exhibitions from Leeds and the UK, from local photographers to world- famous exhibitions. 3. West Yorkshire Playhouse The popular and intimate West Yorkshire Playhouse puts on a wide range of plays from local and touring artists. EAT 1. The Man Behi nd the Curtain If you like your food adventurous, with just a dash of pretention, then Leeds’ only Michelin- starred restaurant is the place for you. 2. Gaucho Leeds Gaucho offers visitors a boutique dining experience, combining the culinary of Argentina with locally- sourced ingredients. 3. Stockdales For a high quality steak, head to Stockdales, which emphasises its traditional Yorkshire heritage. 2. The Queens 1930s art deco hotel, The Queens, is located right next to Leeds train station, and offers visiting event profs 16 conference and meeting rooms and a 500-capacity ballroom. 3. Roomzzz The literally-named Roomzzz offers serviced apartments, with facilities such as a microwave and hob for those looking to cater for themselves during their visit. DRINK 1. Belgrave Music Hall and Canteen The Belgrave Music Hall in Leeds’ Northern Quarter provides patrons with craft ales, pop-up food stalls and a diverse range of gigs. 2. North Bar The unpretentious North Bar has a straightforward offering: craft ales, beers from independent breweries, unusual soft drinks and high quality coffee. 3. The Maven If you’re craving a cocktail then pay a visit to The Maven, modelled on a prohibition-era American speakeasy. exhibitionnews.co.uk | May 2017 65