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Originally called Luna Park, Cloudland Dance Hall was a famous Brisbane entertainment venue located in Bowen Hills. It was demolished in 1982 and the site was subsequently developed into an apartment complex.
On its hilltop site above Brisbane, Cloudland's distinctive parabolic laminated roof arch, nearly 18 metres high, was highly visible. It was the location of numerous formal balls, concerts, weekend dances, civic events and later a marketplace and university examination room.
It was constructed in 1939-40, by T.H.Eslick and opened on 2 August 1940. Eslick paid particular attention to the dance floor. He wanted to create the "best ballroom in the Southern Hemisphere". A funicular railway ran up the side of the hill from the tram stop on Breakfast Creek Road carrying passengers to the rear of the Ballroom. The site was originally intended to have a fun park like Luna Park in Melbourne, which Eslick had built in 1912. The fun park was not built by the time World War II began. It was the largest building of its type in Brisbane.
Eslick disappeared soon after Cloudland was opened so the building was left abandoned until 1942 when it was used by the American military. They arrived shortly after Pearl Harbour was bombed in December 1941. When Cloudland was re-opened after the war, the name Luna Park was dropped and the building was thenceforth known as Cloudland Ballroom. The funicular was dismantled in 1967 and the area was turned into a car park.
Cloudland was purchased by sisters Mya Winters & Francis Rouch for 16,000 pounds and re-opened on 24 April 1947. On 2 Sept 1948 Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh visited after doing the play School for Scandal for a débutants ball for the "Royal society of St George". Cloudland was later a Sunday markets and an exam venue by the University of Queensland.
As a pop/rock/old time music venue Cloudland hosted thousands of dances and concerts in the 50s, 60s and 70s, including a number of notable events. It hosted three of the six concerts performed by rock 'n' roll legend Buddy Holly on his only Australian tour in February 1958.
Cloudland was used regularly by Australian bands from the '50s to the early '80s, and for much of the '60s it was the central venue for the Sunshine group. Sunshine was headed by Brisbane businessman Ivan Dayman (originally from Adelaide), who leased Cloudland from Apel around 1965. Resident bands from the late 60s to its closure included The Sounds Of Seven, The Highmarks and The Seasons of the Witch. The dance format in those times covered old time through to rock n' roll.
The venue was a classic World War II structure. Inside it had hard timber floors, decorative columns, sweeping curtains, domed sky lights and chandeliers. The floor area reserved for dancing within the ballroom was sprung with huge metal coil springs placed uniformly underneath the bearers. There were private alcoves, decorative curtains, sweeping columns, doomed skylights and chandeliers. Cloudland also had an upper circle of tiered seating which overlooked the floor and stage. An impressive tall domed entrance which features a wide, white, 18 metre tall arch was also visible from surrounding suburbs. Cloudland Ballroom was said to be the best finest ballroom in Australia.
Despite strenuous public calls for its preservation, the building was demolished overnight on 7 November 1982 by the Deen Brothers, a 'no-questions-asked'[who?] outfit favoured by the state government and Brisbane City Council for such controversial demolition jobs. The demolition took place despite there being no permit and in spite of its National Trust listing.
Midnight Oil, who had played at Cloudland many times, immortalised the demolition in their song Dreamworld (from the Diesel and Dust LP) which attacked the greed of the pro-development forces. In 2004, a ballet Cloudland choreographed by Francois Klaus was premiered at the Brisbane Festival, and has since been performed in a number of Australian and European cities. A sculpture in Cowlishaw Street is called Cloudland Memorial Arch and was created by Jamie Maclean.
The name of this venue was appropriated at the beginning of 2009 by a new Brisbane "Mega-Club", even though it is located approximately 1.5 kilometers away in Fortitude Valley, with completely different decor and design.
- Hogan, Janet (1982). Living History of Brisbane. Spring Hill, Queensland: Boolarong Publications. p. 111. ISBN 0-908175-41-8.
- Brisbane 150 Stories. Brisbane City Council Publication. 2009. pp. 196–197. ISBN 978-1-876091-60-6.
- Gregory, Helen; Dianne Mclay (2010). Building Brisbane's History: Structure, Sculptures, Stories and Secrets. Warriewood, New South Wales: Woodslane Press. pp. 136–138. ISBN 9781921606199.
Media related to Cloudland at Wikimedia Commons