One of the treats I enjoyed a lot when I was small was accompanying my Mum and her friends to the tea dance at the Palais de Dance. Four of them from the Young Wives Fellowship used to go every Monday afternoon.

 When I was on holiday from school they took me with them. I thought it was the most glamorous place I had ever been, with its glitterball, little tables and shaded lights, the small orchestra of elderly men in their dress suits and the siver haired MC.

My Mum loved to watch any kind of dancing, but I think she only did ballroom and a bit of Scottish and English country dancing. She was a lively “flapper” in the twenties, when she was a teenager. She was aided and abetted in this by her Aunt Margaret, who taught her to make the fringed  and fancy dresses, and thus encouraged her lifelong interest in fashion and dress-making. Even when she was in her eighties and disabled, she was always particular about what she wore.

Even during the war and rationing, she and her friends had their “tea dresses” and silver dancing shoes.

The dancing was all “old time dancing”, not the glitzy and athletic dancing we see on TV now. There were few men, so the women usually danced with each other, to the strains of the small orchestra, who played all the wartime favourites and prewar tunes.  

After about an hour, tea and biscuits or cakes was served. During this interval a raffle was held in aid of the armed forces. I was so excited one time when one of Mum’s friends thrust her ticket into my hand and said, “You have this one me duck!” It was the winning ticket and I was thrilled to go up and collect the prize. It was a (to me !) beautiful frilly nightdress case.  I wasn’t sure what to do after receiving it, so I thanked the MC and curtseyed (as I had been taught at my ballet school)

The excitement of these outings lasted long after we had returned home, and I used to persuade my Mum to dance around at home to the music of Victor Sylvester on the wireless. ……

Slow, slow, quick, quick, slow. 🙂

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