Report - - New Palace Theatre / Dance Academy, Plymouth - April 2019 | Theatres and Cinemas | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - New Palace Theatre / Dance Academy, Plymouth - April 2019

Exploring with Andy

Behind Closed Doors
Staff member
Visited with @SpiderMonkey and @Terminal Decline


The original Palace Theatre opened in 1898, featuring a grand interior. The foyer which featured grand marble columns was described as "beyond question one of the handsomest out of London". After only 3 months of operation, most of the interior was destroyed by a fire, thought to be caused by heat from a stage cannon used during a performance.

The theatre was rebuilt and opened in 1899 as the New Palace Theatre, however the interior decoration was much less ornate. The present interior, as described by Historic England, "represents the theatre as a place for lavish entertainment as reflected in the rich and exciting decoration and architectural detail, with particular attention to nautical themes". The entrance staircase opens up into a saloon bar decorated in the Cinquecento style.

Other than a brief period in 1961, the building remained in use a theatre under various ownerships, until 1965 when it became a club showing striptease, wrestling and bingo. The building was returned to use as a theatre for sporadic periods of time from then on.

In 1997 the building was purchased by Manoucehr Bahmanzadeh and renamed the "Dance Academy". It became on the of UKs most popular nightclubs attracting all the big-name DJs of the time. In May 2006 following a five-month-long police operation, the club was raided and subsequently closed down. Owner Bahmanzadeh and manager Tom Costelloe received prison sentences for allowing the sale of a class A drugs. A great deal of scandal surrounds the case, and there's an interesting Vice article that's worth a read if you're interested.


As seen during it's time as the Dance Academy.​

To be fair, they did a pretty decent job of retaining much of the original interior, and it looks like the kind of place I'd have enjoyed going to back in the day!

The theatre is Grade II listed, is on the Heritage at Risk register and remains unused. The adjoining Great Western Hotel has fallen into a severe state of disrepair.

Exterior Photos

The exterior of the building is amazing! So, there's no way one could forget to take photos of it, right? Well, I must have been pretty tired that day because we were a good way into the 7 hour drive home when I remembered! I seriously considered turning around and going back to get some shots, but we had plans to head back down that way soon for some other locations so decided to postpone the exterior pics until then. Alas, plans change and we never got around to going back, so for now here's a few pics I stole from Internetland (and edited because they were a bit shit). I'll grab my own one day, whenever I'm back down that way.

Entrance Lobby

The lobby had been given a very nightclubby paint job

Saloon Bar

The Auditorium

Where's Wally SpiderMonkey?

Detail of the nautical theming used throughout the decor

Looking back from the stage

A bar in the auditorium circle level

Nice tiles in the fire exits

Part of the Dance Academy ironwork railings
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Super Moderator
Regular User
Somewhere I'd love to visit again but it's SO far away!
I'm pleased to see it's held up well, must be ten years at least since we got in there.


28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Such a shame this place it could be turned into an 02 academy but would need a lot of money spent on it.
When 02 Academy were Academy Music Enterprises they owned it back in 1983 to 1994 They won't go near it today for a couple of reasons the same things that were wrong with the building when they had it are still there today only ten times worse than when they had it and the council will just not be very helpful when it comes to area the palace is situated in as they just want that area changed and a music venue is not what the council want sadly