The Club Fiesta in Norton, Stockton-on-Tees, was a caberet club bringing all the best entertainers in the world to the North of England. Please post your memories here! Jim Lipthorpe (1930-2005)and his brother Keith were the Managing Directors. I and will endevour to post information and memories that I can find!

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

The Fiesta Club: "It is nice to think what we did is appreciated."?

THE dress code was a kipper tie and flares, scantily-clad 'fawns' served ciggies at the tables and diners feasted on scampi in a basket while watching Mike and Bernie Winters...

The place was the Fiesta 'nitespot' in its heyday.

TURNING 18 meant one thing for Stockton girl Lynne Dunning.

Finally she would be able to go along to the Fiesta.

The place, on Norton Road, was a hotspot, a celebrity hangout, the 'in-scene' to coin a Sixties phrase.

"Everyone went there, it was just the place to be,"? Lynne says.

"We all felt like we were living a bit of the London high life here on Teesside.

"I couldn't go until I was 18, but I just loved it."?

The glitz and glamour surrounding the Norton nightspot attracted visitors from far and wide.

"Everybody knew about the Fiesta. People would travel from all over the place to be there,"? says Lynne.

She worked in London for a while, yet every month would use her free ride home to get to the club.

"I worked for the British Transport Hotel. Every month they gave you a ticket to go home. I used to come home to go to the Fiesta on the Thursday and then go back to London for my shift the next day."?

Lynne wasn't the only Fiesta fanatic. The place had a dedicated following.

Margaret Charlton was among them.

"There is nothing like it now,"? says Margaret.

She was in her 30s when she regularly attended the Fiesta.

She remembers that there was a restaurant upstairs and a snack bar serving basket meals.

During a night at the club she says: "It wasn't unusual for you to be crammed shoulder to shoulder."? All of the women would be dressed in their best while the men had to have a collar and tie.

Keith Lipthorpe was the brainchild behind the Fiesta.

Today he looks back with fond memories.

"It got started because my first marriage was on the rocks. I thought I might as well throw all my effort into a business,"? he says.

"Nightclubs were going well at the time. For me it was a throw between a nightclub and selling secondhand cars."?

Luckily for all the Fiesta fanatics-to-be, Keith chose the club.

Playing in a band himself, he knew the secret of a successful venue.

"As a musician I played all over the place. When big names were on they were full, and when they weren't, the places were nearly empty."?

Armed with this knowledge, Keith was determined to make his club a place for all the top acts.

He admits that getting the artists was difficult but it was worth the hard work.

The first week of opening, in April 1965, Mike and Bernie Winters topped the bill.

The second week they had Alma Cogan.

From there the up and coming names flooded in, with the likes of Jack Jones, Les Dawson, Neil Sedaka, the Drifters, Tommy Cooper and Cliff Richard.

"I can't remember much about it myself,"? says Keith, who ran the club with his brother Jim.

"I would work non-stop for three days at a time. I used to work all night and then go to sleep on the floor for an hour and a half.

"Then the cleaners would wake me up when they came in and I would start again."?

For the first four years Keith says the Fiesta included a casino to help keep the business going but it wasn't needed.

The brothers later decided to open a second club in Sheffield, but even Keith says that, despite high expectations, it wasn't a patch on the Norton success.

Finally Keith sold the Fiesta on February 28, 1975. It was the end of an era.

"There hasn't been anything like it since,"? says Lynne.

But thirty years after the Fiesta closed its doors, she hopes to recreate the original atmosphere.

"It could never be the same, but we are going to do our best,"? she says.

Keith is honoured that his club was so highly thought of that three decades later it is still remembered and missed.

"It is very nice and a great tribute,"? he says.

"It is nice to think what we did is appreciated."?

Written March 2005
Evening Gazette

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