Party Time – Bourne & Hollingsworth style…

  The fabulous Bloomsbury Ballroom, still resplendent in original 1920s deco glamour, oozes sophistication from a former age. Just pushing open the heavy, geometric-stark doors in chrome and wood and glass, descending those gleaming marble steps and passing silver lanterns in moderne style notches-up the excitement to Harlem-level. Reflected in mirrored wall panels the red-lit…

Backs to the Land, Girls!

  1939. The world is on the brink. Mr Hitler hasn’t actually invaded anything yet, but it’s not looking good in Poland.   The men in grey suits are worried. How will old Blighty survive if the lads have to fight? They look at each other warily. There is one option. It’s not ideal; the chaps…

Atomic Mid 20th Century Festival

It’s new! It’s Jet-Age! It’s ATOMIC! With a wham-bam, thank-you, ma’am blast of confidence like that, the new Atomic festival sets itself a high bar. But then Robin and Colette, Jerry Chatterbox and Miss Mary Ann know a thing or two about organising festivals. Both the Rockabilly Rave and the Rhythm Riot have been going…

The Delicate Art of the Evening Glove

Evening gloves conjure up the opulence of a bygone era like tiaras and opera glasses. Every lady should know how to wield a pair, but they are fickle mistresses. Well-chosen, they’ll transform that tired old cocktail shift into something Edith Head would be proud of. Poorly chosen, you’ll be mistaken for a hen-night refugee and…

Give Us a Coddle

When I was a kid, my mum used to make us ‘poached eggs’ using a frying pan-like saucepan with little shallow cups simmering over water. She’d put a dab of butter in each cup, break an egg into each then let them boil to a soft set. I grew up sincerely believing that that was what…

The most beautiful song ever recorded

I make no apology for not choosing something hip and obscure as my favourite song of all time. It’s brilliant – and millions of people think so. Including me. Like so many children of the 70s, my first experience of I Only Have Eyes for You was Art Garfunkel’s 1975 hit. It’s a not-bad version,…

The Tweed Run

“I say, old chap, is that a 1934 Raleigh I see before me?” “Actually, it’s a ’35. The hub-sprockets were three-eighths of an inch larger on the touring model that year. But tell me, which tailor supplied that extraordinary pocket-square?” Not an actual conversation I heard on this year’s Tweed Run, but not far off….

Girl on Girl Action – the joy of leading

  Compared to many styles of dancing, lindy hop, rock & roll and the various swing styles are relatively gender-equal. You can usually count on getting at least a few turns with a gent even if you’re on your own or out with girlfriends. But there still never seem to be quite enough chaps to…

Vintage-Hunting in the USA

American Retro and Western classic memorabilia have a big following here in Britain – we love to collect everything from 1950s kitsch – gumball machines and carnival glass – through to gambling memorabilia and pyjama-party chintz. Much of what’s available here, though, is either replica, tatty original or very expensive. It’s hardly surprising – dealers…