Dance Hall Days
A journey into the unique interiors of a legendary dance hall where the vibe of a bygone yet unforgettable era has not lost its charm
The hallway that welcomes us at the entrance of the Le Roi Dance Hall, formerly Dancing Lutrario, in Turin, is a gallery of memories: all the greatest singers of the golden age of the dance hall culture in Italy are immortalized in hundreds of black and white photographs hanging on the walls.
Buscaglione, Modugno, Celentano, Dalla, Cocciante, Mina, Mia Martini, Morandi, Patty Pravo, Giorgio Gaber: they are all there. Everyone has sung, played and made at least a couple of generations dance in the huge and plush ballroom that appears just a little further on, beyond the colorful floral majolica-tiled corridor of the ceramic forest designed by Turin’s most eclectic and brilliant Turin, Carlo Mollino.
In this mythical Sixties and Seventies music venue decorated with precious marbles, mirrors, magnificent stairways and swirling arabesque iron railings, there is someone who still keeps the old flame alive, pursuing a narrative capable of carrying the original aura of the place into the present.
This someone is Mr. Toni Campa, not juts Le Roi’s patron, but a legend of the Seventies himself: once the proverbial young immigrant from southern Italy who made it, he later became a famous actor of those Italian poliziotteschi crime and action films that so inspired Quentin Tarantino and went on to embrace music as a promoter and an entrepreneur.
In 2008, Campa took over the Lutrario dance hall, which dated back to the year 1960, along with Luciana De Biase, and resurrected it not, as one might expect, by renovating it, but by transforming it into an extraordinary time capsule where waiters in suits and bow ties still serve traditional cocktails to the sound of 1960s hits.
“When the Lutrario family summoned me to the deathbed of Le Roi, everyone urged me and Luciana to turn the place into something contemporary”, says Campa. "But we chose instead to keep on telling the story of this incredible place born out of Carlo Mollino’s brilliant mind, because Le Roi could only exist on the foundations of its own uniqueness".
And so through private parties, concerts, and art events, Le Roi went gradually back to being the talk of the town, welcoming eminent representatives of the cultural and fashion worlds and the film industry, and taking part in the recent millennial-driven swing dance revival.
Is unique ambience and interiors have intrigued young architecture students, earned the pages of Italy’s major design magazines, and served as a backdrop for fashion shows. And though all this, the magic stayed alive, along with the surviving music stars of the 1960s and 1970s who have been performing in approximately 180 gigs over the last 14 years.
After being forced to keep its doors shut for almost two years because of the pandemic, Le Roi is now faced with many a challenge, just like every other music venue in the world. What does the future hold for this place where the present hardly seems to scrape the legacy of an unforgettable past?
“Maybe the time has finally come to tell a new story”, reveals Toni Campa. "If I had the opportunity, I would take over the entire building and turn it into a one-of-a-kind dance, music and food venue while keeping the original mood intact. It would be the only way to carry Le Roi into the future without affecting its present”.
It appears as though the signs are all there: one way or another, the story of Le Roi continues. And along with it goes the unending charm of the good old dance hall days, still alive and kickin’.
Models, in order of appearance: Nanda Isaia, Marina Mpapa, Davy Swart, Oliver Bartha.
Location: Dancing Le Roi, Turin
Nanda: Irma, single-pleat linen & viscose striped shorts; Daisy, relaxed single-pleat pants in viscose & cotton satin (SS21).
Marina: Tracy, tie & dye straight-leg ankle jeans in stretch denim; Kate, light blue flared jeans in stretch denim; Daisy, single-pleat relaxed lyocell trousers (SS21).
Davy: single-pleat malfilé cotton trousers with palm print; The Gentleman, high-waist double-pleat trousers in fine Super 100's wool; Rock style skinny jeans skinny fit jeans (SS21).
Oliver: Epsilon, zip-hem trousers in technical water-repellent cotton; Rock skinny fit organic denim jeans (SS21).