NOSTALGIA: You didn’t argue with Rose, the city’s first female disc jockey

The Crystal Lounge once occupied this South Parade, Southsea, site before it became Joanna's
The Crystal Lounge once occupied this South Parade, Southsea, site before it became Joanna's

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I published a photo of South Parade a couple of weeks ago of the buildings opposite South Parade Pier – the Savoy Buildings.

I said the establishment at the end of the block was Joanna’s. I was quite wrong. It was in fact the Crystal Lounge. I must have passed in later years after the name change and thought it had always been called Joanna’s.

Crystal Lounge DJ Rose Hawkins aged 17

Crystal Lounge DJ Rose Hawkins aged 17

In 1969/70 my pals and I used to drink in the bar which had a carpet to which your feet stuck.

But we didn’t just go there to drink, it was also because of the girl DJ who played the records.

She was then the spitting image of Cathy McGowan, the presenter of Ready Steady Go, ITV’s competitor to Top of the Pops.

That DJ was Rose Fryer, then Rose Hawkins, aged just 17.

Rose Fryer, Portsmouths first, and perhaps only female DJ, at home in Fareham.

Rose Fryer, Portsmouths first, and perhaps only female DJ, at home in Fareham.

The Festival Bar down below had a DJ who gave up and the management asked Rose if she’d like to play records above in the Crystal Lounge. She agreed although she knew nothing about being a DJ.

For four nights a week Rose kept drinkers entertained and soon packed them in. There was no sophisticated playing deck like today, just the basics for playing records.

As she did not have a great record collection management gave her a small sum every month to buy 45 rpm records.

I interviewed her at her home in Fareham. Being an Elvis Presley fan, as she still is, the first record she played in public was In The Ghetto. Although Elvis was her favourite the Beatles came a popular second.

A marvellous picture of the Savoy Buildings which would one day become home to the Crystal Lounge. Its undated but might well be the 1920s

A marvellous picture of the Savoy Buildings which would one day become home to the Crystal Lounge. Its undated but might well be the 1920s

As drinkers came and went during an evening Rose played the same records several times.

Although it was a compliment Rose said the number of drinkers who chatted her up became a little too much at times. She remembers walking across the floor at the end of one evening taking an empty bottle back to the bar. A drunk made inappropriate advances towards her and she turned and whacked him across his head catching him a glancing blow with the bottle. He never tried his luck again. However, he did fetch a policeman after telling him he had been assaulted.

The officer returned to the bar with the drunk and witnesses told him what really happened. The officer told the drunk to clear off before Rose made charges against him.

Rose said if anyone tried to make unwanted advances Portsmouth professional wrestler, the giant former Royal Marine Bruno Elrington, who drank in the Festival Bar, was on hand to scare off troublemakers. Bruno was 6ft 5in and weighed 20 stones...

I asked Rose where she used to go for dancing back then and the Mecca Ballroom in Arundel Street was always popular. She saw The Who there.

After about nine months at the Crystal Lounge, Rose, who married young, found herself pregnant with her second daughter and left the bar.

As far as I know Rose was the only girl DJ in the city, unless you know differently...