This weekend Wayne Hemmingway’s Vintage festival comes to the South Bank Centre as part of the 60 year anniversary celebrations for the Festival of Britain. It’s a celebration of all things vintage from the 1940’s through to the 1980s and although it had its teething troubles, it did get some positive feedback from vintage lovers (a good roundup of reviews can be found on the Tissue Clouds blog).
My assessment is that there are potential good times to be had here for Vintage-loving dancers as long as you set your expectations correctly: as with any vintage event there will be a mixture of hardcore Vintage lifestylers and vintage tourists, for whom the mere sight of a cravat is an exciting novelty. There will be dancers there, but don’t expect to be able to dominate the dancefloor.
Tickets are £60 , but Time Out are selling tickets at £19 – not sure exactly for which days…
So what does it hold in store for Lindyhoppers and which day should you go on?
The Torch Club
The hub of 1940’s hepness is the Torch Club (The Torch Club on Facebook), a venue on the river side of the South Bank centre which will get taken over by the Black Cotton Club on Saturday (representing the ’20s) when the 40’s rule in the Clore Ballroom. I’ve got no idea what the venue is like, but here’s hoping it will at least have a wooden floor!
Throughout the weekend Tim Hellzapoppin (amongst others) will spinning the shellac and Natasha Hall will be teaching with Mark Ewing. There will also be a Vintage Tea Dance orchestra playing during the daytime, but I wouldn’t hold your breath for anything too Hot and swinging from them.
Things start off rather questionably with The Jive Aces headlining, backed up by Jivin’ Miss Daisy, who sound like they might be OK for dancing, but rather more towards the Sweet than the Hot. Trio Manouche are a good solid Gypsy Jazz group who are worth checking out.
Saturday looks good: swing takes over the decent dancefloor (Clore ballroom), headed up by Ondrej Havelka & His Melody Makers who sound like a classic swing outfit with a czech twist. The Swinging Belles model themselves after the Boswell sisters and may be worth a dance or two.
Unfortunately the real swinging action is away from the ballroom back in the Torch Club: Black Cotton take over the venue with an absolutely cracking lineup with the best of the Hot stuff with the Shirt Tail Stompers, Dixie Ticklers and The Hep Chaps.
Lindy classes will be provided by the London Swing Dance Society, and obviously El Nino and Lady Kamikaze will be playing their usual blend of old, hot, fast swinging tunes (keep up or shut up). With the addition of ex-Quick Quick Club resident Swinging Dickie.
Two proper old big bands finish off the weekend: The John Miller Orchestra should need no introduction (the clue’s in the surname), and the Bombshellettes are an accomplished all-girl big band with a repertoire of classics and who actually know how to Swing. Fargo are a “western swing” band, but this really isn’t as bad as it sounds: perfectly swingable by my reckoning – provided you don’t mind a bit of violin and slide guitar and the odd yodel.
For details of where you can Learn and Dance Lindy hop in London, check out Swing Out London