Why is "tea dance" not having a comeback?

Discussion in 'The Golden Era' started by Trenchfriend, Jan 19, 2021.

  1. Trenchfriend

    Trenchfriend I'll Lock Up

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    I read, that "cocktail party" was the successor.

    But the idea of tea dance as an relaxed "unbuttoned" event, without stupid alcohol, sounds great in my ears!
    I mean, not all people like loud, superficial disco/party crap or dancing events in gastronomy.

    Maybe, the difficulty for such a simple tea dance could be to find a cozy and "central" place (in smalltown), which could be used for free.
     
  2. Artifex

    Artifex Familiar Face

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    Before "all this", I'm fairly sure I remember the Musical Museum at Kew Bridge (London) advertising events along those lines, very much in the classic style. The folk music/dancing scene also comes to mind as more civilised and friendly than a stereotypical rave. Social dancing societies in other genres are probably comparable.

    The real puzzle is why that sort of social event should have fragmented into niches.

    Of course, if the morals of today's youth are corrupt, it should be blamed entirely on the wild music and unruly dances they indulge in. You know: "Ragtime", and now that "Charleston" thing. Disgraceful!
     
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  3. Edward

    Edward Bartender

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    To some extent, I suspect it's one of those things that was just never quite as common as perhaps popular culture and period piece television makes them out to be. In England at least they were the preserve of the genteel, well to do set, associated with high tea / afternoon tea (4pm-7pm being the common timeslot).

    The fashionability, outside of a hardcore enthusiast group, of the 30s/40s scene that might have included this sort of thing has nosedived in the UK at least in the last few years; even some of the big nightclub events that would have catered to this period have died out. Part of it is fickle fashion, but also the music of that pre-rock and roll period is so tied to formalised, partner dancing that the average person these days doesn't 'learn' in any real way. A lot of the forties swing scene over here always seemed split again between those for whom the dancing was a wider part of an interest in a scene (people who happen to dance lindy hop), and those interested only in the dance ("lindy-hoppers"), and who wouldn't have seen the point in the clothes or any other aspect of it. (The paradigm story here being the - entirely true - tale from a few years ago of a young lady in England who had set herself up as a teacher with a popular swing dance franchise, but who was quite open that she didn't really like the music, and never listened to it outside of dance classes.) Two very different niches, further splitting a market. Lindy Hoppers can be as tribal as the rest of us - I was once at a 40s themed dance night where friends were stopped and scolded for dancing the foxtrot to a wartime era number because "this is a lindy hop. You shouldn't be doing that dance to this." (by another attendee, not the event organisers, who were nice people). Part of it here in the UK too is that the very mention of a "tea dance" is something that is associated with older folks in old people's homes or at retirees social clubs. My wife worked at a social club in Bristol which had them back in the 90s, and attendees were typically people our grandparents age, who had lived through the war. A disproportionate number of single, elderly ladies, a fair few of whom had lost husbands or husbands to be in the war and never (re)married. Whereas - at least at the peak of fashionability of all things WW2 - the likes of Memphis Belle sold us sexy, American hanger dances late into the evening, the afternoon tea dances of the Blitz era seem to have struggled to sell to a younger crowd.

    It all stacks up, but the reality is that some things just don't have enough of a market at present. At least that's my experience, anyhow.
     
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  4. Trenchfriend

    Trenchfriend I'll Lock Up

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    I think, in old Germany, the tea dance would probably mostly attract to the vintage scene and other people, who doesn't like loud disco. The real point of tea dance would not be fulfilled, I guess. Would be more of a subculture event. ;)
     
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  5. Tiki Tom

    Tiki Tom One Too Many

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    Great comments by Edward. Regrettably, “Tea Dance” would be impossible to sell to the alcohol-soaked generation that came of age in the 80s. I think any kind of dancing is a good idea (much better than stewing in front of a TV), so I’d certainly give it a whirl if I heard one was advertised. But I’d anticipate a roomful of ladies “of a certain age” with, maybe, one or two old men.
     
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  6. Edward

    Edward Bartender

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    It's somewhat ironic, but I think the fact that whereas the hanger dances and nightclub type events are a thing of the past, the fact that tea dances were preserved by that generation and carried on as a form of "entertainment for old people who'll be asleep by eight pm" (as culturally stereotyped) has given them a certain image. Funnily enough, though when my favourite Jive club switch to five to nine instead of eight to one, I was overjoyed - early Sunday night, didn't have to take Monday off, tube home in half the time a nightbus takes....
     
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  7. Trenchfriend

    Trenchfriend I'll Lock Up

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    I would prefer a tea dance with Diana Krall, coming from the speakers. :cool:
     
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  8. robrinay

    robrinay One Too Many

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    They still exist in the U.K. - Blackpool Tower Ballroom and the Midland Hotel in Morecambe hold them. I’ve been to tea dances at both places. (Not cheap though).
     
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  9. GHT

    GHT I'll Lock Up

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    Sunday afternoons at The Rivoli once a month before lockdown, were wonderful. We also found a great village hall where Sunday tea dances were held, at a place called Titchfield. After the dance we all went along to an Italian restaurant, what a perfect way to stretch the weekend.
     
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  10. Tiki Tom

    Tiki Tom One Too Many

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    Sounds fabulous.
     
  11. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    My grandfather's band played tea-dances in the early thirties, but they were pretty much gone as a local attraction by the end of that decade. Many of these events took place in outdoor "dance pavilions" that were highly combustible, and when they inevitably burned down they weren't rebuilt.

    There are still indoor halls where dances were and still could be held, but many of them turned into "bottle clubs" during the 70s and 80s, and crowded out the few remaining old folks who enjoyed wheeling around the floor to "My Gal Sal." A "bottle club," for those who don't have such things, is a venue where they are prohibited from selling liquor on the premises, but patrons are allowed and encouraged to bring their own. In their heyday, thirty or forty years ago, they had a reputation for often becoming violent and rowdy, especially if a country band was playing, and this reputation drove away anyone who wasn't interested in that kind of environment. Most of these establishments mutated into karaoke clubs during the 90s, with a reputation as the kind of place where 50-year-old women could go to get drunk. Not much room there for decorous dancing.
     
  12. Harp

    Harp I'll Lock Up

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    Tanz mit Fraulein Krall.;)
     
  13. MisterCairo

    MisterCairo I'll Lock Up

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    Better yet, end the sentence after Krall.
     
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  14. Sonero

    Sonero Practically Family

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    I grew up with these in NYC. Normally thrown on Sundays to continue the Saturday night binge OR put on by AA groups or the likes for a non alcoholic party event. Either way the vibe was really mellow and low drug use if any. Focus was on music and dance and having somewhere to go besides church on a Sunday.
    I hope the younger generation can continue to enjoy them. After Covid I fear for them.

    Man do I miss those dances.
    In Lima,Peru there is an old timers Charanga dance every Sunday in the park downtown. The old folks know how to dance trust me :)
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2021
  15. Tiki Tom

    Tiki Tom One Too Many

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  16. Sonero

    Sonero Practically Family

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    Playlist saved to my collection on Youtube.

    WOW this is good stuff. I have been stuck on Teena Marie, Shirley Murdock , and Stephanie Mills. Time to let Diana on into my life. Thanks for the recommendation.
     
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  17. The Mother of all Tea Dances -- July 1981

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  18. Aerielle Max

    Aerielle Max New in Town

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    Wow, what an interesting thread. A lot of good replies here.
     
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  19. GHT

    GHT I'll Lock Up

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    Here's a taster Tom. It's called a sequence dance, at the end of each 32 step sequence the ladies rotate clockwise by one partner, so everybody gets to dance with everybody else. The ballroom is The Rivoli.
     
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