Those of us who went to the Brisbane ballroom Cloudland – not the Fortitude Valley nightclub of the same name – may want to share some of their memories on camera for Cloudland: The Musical.
If this sentence confuses you, you are too young to be have memories of a place that was originally intended to be the Brisbane equivalent of Melbourne’s Luna Park when constructed in 1939 and became the centre of romantic ballroom dancing in the 1950s before evolving into rock'n'roll heaven for rockers from the 1960s to the 1980s for some of the world’s best groups.
Cloudland at Bowen Hills had a beautifully lit 18-metre-high arch, under which a younger Queen Elizabeth walked and which could be seen at night for miles and miles and miles (Sorry Pete Townsend).
The Clash, Echo and the Bunnymen, XTC, Madness, Simple Minds, Midnight Oil, Cold Chisel, The Angels, Ian Dury and the Blockheads, Split Enz, UB40, Icehouse, Mental as Anything, The Saints and the Go-Betweens played in the generations that followed Railroad Gin, Bee Gees, Buddy Holly, Bill Haley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Tony Worsley and Paul Anka among many others.
Before that Cloudland was home to exams and graduations, weddings and debutante balls. It was home for thousands of graduates from Orchards Dance Studios.
It truly was magic for three generations of Queenslanders.
Then at 4am on November 7, 1982, the Bjelke-Petersen Queensland government called for its demolition and Cloudland was flattened and the city’s international reputation tipped into the gutter. If you lived here then, the demolition of Cloudland physically hurt.
Peter Garrett explained to me in 2012 how it was the inspiration for the Midnight Oil classic Dreamworld.
“It had beautiful promenades and arches and a raised verandah outside," Garrett said.
"[It was] on top of the hill, so the view you had was across the whole of Brisbane, across the whole of the city,” he said.
"As well as that, it had an upstairs mezzanine area that you could go upstairs and look down on to the dance floor and at the bands.
"It was just absolutely chock-a-block with atmosphere, heritage and history."
Cloudland had a sprung floor – important for ballroom dancing – but it opened a whole new world as crowds literally “bounced” during a Cold Chisel, Angels or Midnight Oil gig.
Now writer, director and producer Paul Hayman is looking to film in Brisbane some of those five decades of people’s memories of Cloudland.
Those memories will be edited into a film collage that will be projected onto a screen on the set of a revamped Cloudland: The Musical.
Cloudland: The Musical was a stage show in 2012 before Hayman and his wife, choreographer Kylie Wall, took a break.
The 2018 version of Cloudland: The Musical tells the story of how Cloudland impacts the life of Cloudland’s music through the eyes of a fictitious Brisbane family.
“We go from 1940s big band swing – from that whole era – right through until 1982 to bands like Brian Setzer’s Stray Cats, UB40 and Madness and all that sort of music,” Paul Hayman said.
“There’s a nine-piece band with five-piece horn section, so a lot of the material like the Angels has never been heard with a horn section,” he said.
Hayman said Cloudland Ballroom genuinely impacted people’s lives.
“With these filmed memories I really wanted to show the effect this building had on shaping people and their lives over so many generations,” he said.
“They will become very much part of the show.”
It will premiere at Twin Towns at Tweed Heads on September 15.
Originally from Sydney, Paul Hayman, now 50, has been in acting, music and music theatre for 19 years, working first in independent music before branching into theatre and stage work.
Do you want your Cloudland memories filmed?
August 4: Redland Sporting Club from 10am to 1pm. The club is in Anson Street, Wellington Point.
August 19: Twin Towns Social Club, Tweed Heads, from 10am to 1pm.
Cloudland: The Musical premieres at Twin Towns, Tweed Heads on September 15. Tickets from here.
Filming inquiries to Paul Hayman on 0409 727 669.