St Pauls Square, Bedford, Bedfordshire, MK40 1SL
The first time I ever went dancing at the Bedford Corn Exchange I vowed never to go there again. It was so hot that after 15 minutes I could hardly breath.
Since then they have sorted out the air conditioning, and although the numbers mean that it can get warm, it is never so unbearable as it used to be. And indeed in the last year or so numbers have become more reasonable, which means more room to dance, and fewer problems with the temperature.
The Corn Exchange is a fully modernised venue with decent facilities and a very large (by jive standards) dance floor. Ceroc hire it about once a month just for dances. There are no classes held here.
There’s a big seated area at the rear of the hall facing the stage, and a row of single seating along the other sides, except where the bar is situated (it faces directly onto the dance floor). It is a popular venue, and I’ve never once had a situation in which I couldn’t find someone to dance with.
Yes of course there are some couples doing their thing, but they don’t get in the way, and actually some of them are worth watching. It can on occasion get a bit too crowded but most of the time it is good. But if you don’t like a packed dance floor, then either get there early or stay til the end.
- Air conditioning: 5 out of 5 – no fans needed, it is a modern system and it works.
- Atmosphere: 5 out of 5. I’m sure you could do something else to improve the atmosphere but I can’t think what it would be.
- Do ladies ask men: 4 out of 5. Yes they do. I still have to do some asking, and it is not totally equal (which would warrant the 5 out of 5 mark) but yes, the ladies do ask.
- Facilities: 4 out of 5 – they don’t do food on freestyle nights, while most places do, but I suspect the numbers are too great and they don’t have an obvious place to put it.
- Free water: Yes at the bar.
- Friendliness: 5 out of 5. There are virtually no cliques – or if there are I just don’t bump into them.
- Location: 5 out of 5. Town centre, as all the Corn Exchanges are, of course.
- Music: Between 3 and 4 out of 5. I have been there on nights when the quality of the sound was poor, but generally it is ok. Not the most varied music, even after 11pm they play the regular stuff, but it is always danceable.
- Parking: 3 out of 5. The large open air car park at the end of the one way system has gone but there is a multi-story: drive past the Corn Exchange with it on your right, come to the mini-roundabout, turn right, and immediately take the right hand lane to enter the multi-story. There is always space – but make sure you arrive after 8pm, because tickets bought from that moment on are just £1 for the night – pay in the machine as you return.
- Space: 5 out of 5
- Venue overall: 4 out of 5. Getting towards five.