Monday, 12 February 2018

Bar shoes, 1920-25

Wouldn't you just love a pair of dance shoes like these ... and they came from the Co-op, which was evidently rather more glam in the Twenties than when I had a Saturday job there 50 years later.

I had a spare hour this afternoon and dropped in at Two Temple Place to see their jazz exhibition. (Just the right size and it's free!)

Tea Dance, Mabel Frances Layng
This tea dance looks rather sedate; mummy wouldn't have raised an eyebrow. I googled Mabel Frances Layng when I got home. She had an exhibition organised by her sister in 1938 shortly after she died; I think it's time for another ... Don't they all look like characters from a Persephone book? (I discovered another woman artist, too, the working class Cockney Grace Golden, who did some lovely drawings of Sherry's dance hall in Brighton - it featured in Brighton Rock so perhaps you wouldn't have met the right kind of young man there. I couldn't find any images of her dance hall drawings but here's her obituary.)

But this would have been a swanky night out; look at the orchids and the hats.

Design for the interior of Fischer's restaurant, New Bond Street, Raymond McGrath 
It would have been more fun, if less respectable, to go dancing in Harlem to 'music hot and strong enough to make a tadpole whip a whale.' But would you be up for fried hog maw on the way home? (Actually, I would; I love anything greasy and meaty.) The 5s menu at the Cave of the Golden Calf in 1912 must have been expensive then and sounds rather smarter: poulet Diogené, whatever that is - I can't be bothered getting Larousse down from the shelf - and strawberry crème Margot. In fact, the Golden Calf, in a basement off Regent Street, was extremely louche- and I can't imagine a crème de menthe hangover!

Harlem, 1934, Edward Burra

I didn't know that after 1935 government restrictions prohibited whole American dancebands from coming to Britain, which put an end to the Jazz Age. (Annoyingly, the curator didn't explain why. I'd have thought it was worth more than a sentence!)

2 comments:

Veronica Cooke said...

Yes, I would love to go to this exhibition and OH would too as he's a jazz fan; I just love the fashions...those shoes are magnificent!

I have that Harlem print by by Edward Burra on my living room wall. Apparently, he never went to the States at all. I wonder how he managed to 'dream' up this scene and the others (there are several).

If you like anything greasy and meaty you would have enjoyed our dinner this evening - roast belly pork pieces!

Mary said...

No, he was definitely in NY in the early 1930s and stayed in Harlem, Veronica. Did you see that wonderful Burra exhibtion that was on at Pallant House a few years ago? I think it possibly toured elsewhere.
Hope you manage to get to Temple Place; it's quite a small exhibition - an hour would be plenty - but the building is amazing if you've never been there before. Lovely things in the shop, too.