THERE you were, in your grooviest gear, all set for a top night out doing the Bus Stop, the Hustle, the Bump or whatever the dance craze was of the day.

It was May 28, 1971, and there was only one place to be that night the Maison Royale complex was opening for its first night!

And the next decade, for many of the ravers living in Bournemouth and for miles around, a night at the Maison Royale or Le Cardinal was the hottest spot in town.

Top of the pops that week was Dawn's "Knock Three Times" although by the end of the summer Middle of the Road's "Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep" and T Rex's "Get In On" would take over in turn as number one in the charts.

The Maison Royale complex in Glen Fern Road promised a lot. There would be "glamorous girls, music, comedy and fabulous costumes", the opening night adverts said. And "the most lavish floor shows ever to be seen in Bournemouth". And, of course, soft lights.

It was the brainchild of businessman John Yates, who bought the building when it was little more than a shell and created the pioneering complex.

His daughter-in-law, Sylvia Yates, who lives in Talbot Road, Bournemouth, recalled that John "wanted it to be as near as possible to the Talk of the Town in London" and her late husband, Malcolm, was responsible for all of the building work.

And among young, trendy people it certainly was the talk of the town.

The concept consisted of the Maison Royale theatre restaurant that seated 700 people, Le Cardinal nightclub that could host 600 and originally had a U-shaped dance-floor, the Roof Top Hotel with its 52 rooms and The Outlook, Bournemouth's first smart disco restaurant.

"The club was fantastic," said Mrs Yates, recalling the early days when the manager was Ralph Dryden and the maitre d' was a German possibly called Ziggie.

"Jackie Vincent, from Bournemouth, looked after the stars," she said.

"Matt Munro appeared there as well as the Brotherhood of Man."

"My father-in-law also owned The Outlook above the car park and my husband once turned Jimmy Tarbuck away because he didn't recognise him," recalled Mrs Yates.

John Yates, tragically, was found dead in a swimming pool in 1972 but the Maison Royale carried on and by the May, Cherries chairman Harold Walker was also chairman of the Maison Royale group.

And he came up with a new signing, recruiting one of Britain's top DJs, Jimmy Savile.

His job? Entertainments and promotion consultant and he arrived at Le Cardinal in person in the May of that year.

Jimmy who still has a flat on Bournemouth's East Cliff spent five years as consultant, pepping up the pace at the night club and featuring in some lively press stories.

A year after he joined, Jimmy was appalled to discover that the management had bought a nude painting of Princess Anne riding on a horse along a beach for the club foyer.

He demanded that it be taken down.

And media-savvy Jimmy also revealed that Bournemouth had a rock 'n' roll-loving pigeon that had taken to living in the store room and would not go away.

After five years, however, the TV personality, who had been brought in to help mastermind keeping the business on its feet, reckoned he had fixed it and it was time to move on.

The club was attracting throngs of people and big-name stars.

The list of other celebrities appearing at the Maison Royale complex over the years reads like a 1960s and '70s roll call.

They included Roy Castle, Rod Hull, Cliff Richard (who came to speak about his faith), The Bachelors, Vera Lynn, Helen Shapiro, Leslie Crowther, Frankie Howerd, Kathy Kirby, Billy Dainty, Joe Henderson, Stan Stennett, Matt Munro and even "Amarillo" singer Tony Christie.

And the discos at the complex alone catered for 1,700 youngsters on a night out.

Anyone who was anyone in the Bournemouth area in the '70s had been there.

By 1981, however, the complex, with Nick Rubenstein as managing executive, was looking for new attractions and in March brought Radio One DJ Dave Lee Travis to town, to open a new roller skating rink at the Maison Royale.

In the July the Maison Royale had started billing itself as a family entertainment centre with its nightclub for the over-21s, a small disco and the Royale Showbar. Attractions included Vince Hill, The Searchers and Bernie Flint.

But times were changing and police were objecting to clubs applying to renew their 2am late-night licences.

People talk today of the binge-drinking culture but was it so different then in 1981?

The Bournemouth licensing committee of that year was told of fights in the street by late-night clubgoers, drunken behaviour and vandalism.

Residents living near Glen Fern Road told the committee of how they had had takeaway food pushed through letter boxes, people urinated in doorways or from the car parks on to people walking below and doorbells were frequently rung in the early hours.

The number of clubgoers seeking trouble was very small, said the police, but others would often often join in once an ugly situation reared up.

Girls as young as 12 or 13 well under the minimum age of 16 had attended the Maison Royale discos and consumed alcohol, police said, adding that more than 40 officers were required to deal with the thousands of people leaving the discos.

A midnight curfew was imposed.

It was the last straw.

By August 1983 the Echo front page broke the news that Maison Royale was closing.

Its boss blamed the midnight curfew and said that, despite other clubs operating in the town centre, his complex always seemed to be the scapegoat for trouble in the town streets.

In September 1983 the Maison Royale closed its doors to a rousing chorus of Auld Lang Syne from more than 1,000 clubgoers there on the last night.

UB40's Red Red Wine was number one.

They had just knocked KC and the Sunshine Band off the top spot with their song, appropriately called Give It Up.

It was the day the Maison Royale died.