Today we tried out one of Ragroof Theatre‘s 20s – 40s-themed tea dances at Finsbury Town Hall near Farringdon. We paid £6 each to get in and £1 for tea and cake, which they don’t tell you about explicitly, but which is well worth the money.
We arrived to find dancing already in progress, led by two chaps in white tie and various females in pseudo-period attire. The ballroom itself was superb, with all the moulding, angels and chandelierage one could desire. Either you got there early enough (or had friends who did…) and managed to bag a table or lurked around the edges of the room as near to the cake and booze as possible. As advertised, there was dancing for all levels of experience, with three very simple tutorials in the two-step, cha cha cha and passa doble interspersed with free-for-all rhumbas, foxtrots and waltzes. In addition, the dance leaders demonstrated some exciting routines and there was a very pleasant piano recital during High Tea.
High Tea was something else. The cakes were wheeled in in much style by, amongst others, one of the hostesses with bright red hair, giant Audrey Hepburnesque sunglasses, red tights with black skulls and a period maid’s costume. Each table got a platter of enormous wedges of different cakes (coffee, ginger, chocolate and Victoria sponge) with tea. One of our party also managed to go up to the cake table at the back and get herself seconds for free!
As ever at these kinds of things, a whole range of different people were there. We saw one father teaching his toddler to walk in time to the music. At the other end of the scale, there were some rather exotically dressed elderly ladies and the chronically shaking octogenarian who I’d often had to dance with at swing dancing classes earlier this year. Some people were dressed in period-ish costume – these were generally those who come to these things a lot, we suspected – but most in smartish casual. If you go to one of these events, don’t feel obliged to dress up, unless you’re particularly keen on recreating the 1930s!
It’s ever so nice that these things still exist. You’d get most out of it if you have some social dancing experience in order to be able to join in with all of the dances. However, even dancing virgins (Dan…) were well catered for. The cake was worth going for on its own.