Alt venues: The Beach Ballroom

EN takes a trip to Aberdeen’s Beach Ballroom to learn more about the exhibition capabilities of the historic art deco venue. 

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Aberdeen’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 definite 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 floor 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 financial 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.

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