World War 2 Stories for Sheffield

                             Fred Boast 

Old Time Dancing in 1945.

By Actiondesk Sheffield

People in story: Fred Boast
Location of story: Addlestone, Surry
Background to story: Civilian


This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Roger Marsh of the ‘Action Desk – Sheffield’ Team on behalf of Fred Boast.
At the time of VE Day in 1945 I was just 12 years old and lived with my family in Chapel Avenue, Addlestone, a small town in northwest Surrey. My father was in the Home Guard and my friend, Bryan Smith, lived in the same street, and his father was an Air Raid Warden. Bryan was very musical and played the piano accordion and later went on to become the conductor of the BBC Radio 2 Ballroom Orchestra at the Maida Vale Studios.

Chapel Avenue had some 40 homes in it and ran parallel with Chapel Grove, with another 40 homes, and they were joined across one end with Chapel Park Road with 20 homes. The occupants of these houses decided to get together to celebrate the Victory in Europe, and formed the Star Social Club. The Club held many Social events and held them in Chapel Park Infants' School, which stood at the corner of the Avenue and Park Road.

Bryan, who was regularly appearing at the local music halls, would get together with my uncle, Jim Westbury, also from Chapel Avenue who also played the piano accordion. They would play their marching and sing-along tunes. All of us children and our parents would march behind them round the square which was formed by the Chapel roads and the High Street. We would then finish up at the School for our social evening.

Old Time Dancing was very popular at this time, with dancing in the town on Tuesday evenings at the Weyman's Motor Bodies works, and on Thursday evenings at the Airscrew factory, where they made propellers for the Hurricane fighter. Mothers took their sons to the dances, as there was a shortage of male partners due to them being away in the armed forces. There was also a long night once a month on Saturdays at each venue. The music was always provided by a minimum of a Trio up to an eight piece Band. The ladies always wore long dresses and gloves that went up to their elbows. It was nothing to see a young lady cycling to the dance with her long dress all wrapped in front of her, so that it did not get entangle in the wheels. We had a Master of Ceremonies but no floor leaders; you just got up and followed the couple in front and hoped they were doing it right. You always danced in a circle around the dance floor. The only time that there was an en-core to a dance was in the progressive ones. These were very popular as were the set dances.

The Old Time Dancing at this time was very popular, as it provided a welcome relief from the many problems of the day that the civilian population were suffering.
The favourite dances of this time were -
Waltz - Veleta, Imperial, Doris, La Rinka, Pride of Erin, Tango, Florentine, St Bernard's, Chrysanthemum, Spanish & Kings
Tango - Royal Empress, Lola, Donella, Square, Fascination, London & Society Foxtrot - Society, On Leave & Ladbroke. Saunter - Moonlight, Yearning & Starlight Two Step - Boston & Military
Set dances: - Lancers, Quadrilles, Waltz Cotillion & Dashing White Sergeant.
Others: - Eva Three Step, Marine Four Step, Donnybrook, Barn Dance, Latchford & Highland Schottische, Maxina, Mississippi Dip, Esperano Barn Dance, Jazz Twinkle, Palais Glide, Lingering Blues, Gay Gordons & Shag
Others danced in Party social Dances included - Balling the Jack, Lambeth Walk, Okey Cokey, Jitterbug & Hands, Knees and Bumps-a-Daisy.