Last Friday fellow Charlie’s Angels members Fiona, Megan and I headed to the spectacular London venue of Café de Paris for an exciting and fun-filled day of Charleston dancing, with none other than Head Judge of Strictly Come Dancing – Len Goodman!
We were there to dance in the glamourous finale of an upcoming BBC documentary on the history of social dancing, co-presented by Len and Chief Curator at Historic Royal Palaces, Lucy Worsley.
It was an early start for a flapper girl, arriving in Piccadilly Circus at 9:15am with vintage hairdos and fancy dresses at the ready. I must have looked a little out of place among the morning commuters as presenter Lucy and make-up artist Issidora spotted me at a busy crossing and, asking if I was one of the Charleston dancers, kindly accompanied me to the venue.
Whilst the entrance to Café de Paris is fairly inconspicuous, the inner décor is oozing with glamour, and as the sounds of the hustle and bustle of weekday London subsided, I felt like I’d stepped back in time – I could tell it wasn’t going to be difficult to get into character!
Once inside the sumptuous ballroom I quickly met up with Fiona, Megan and a host of other friendly dancers all eagerly waiting to see what was in store for us over the next few hours. The brief was to recreate and capture the “dance craze” atmosphere of the 1920s Charleston. Lead by Darren Royston and his Nonsuch History and Dance group, we were incorporated into a choreographed dance sequence, with Len and Lucy taking centre stage for a partnered spotlight.
After several run-throughs it was time to don our flapper dresses for a full dress rehearsal. The production company’s costume designer ran around adding the finishing touches – a bow-tie here, a feathered headdress there – and soon we were all bedecked in a gorgeous array of Charleston costumes. As we filed back into the ballroom to rehearse and film with the live band, it really did feel like we’d been transported back to the roaring 20s, it was a wonderful feeling!
I have to admit, having come from a ballroom dancing background, and being a HUGE fan of Strictly Come Dancing, I was more than a tad excited to be dancing alongside Len Goodman! And I was even more excited when Fiona plucked up the courage to ask for a photo with him, which he happily agreed to. It will definitely be going up on my wall!
But without a doubt the highlight of the day was in meeting and spending time with an incredibly fun and friendly group of people brought together by our love of vintage dance. It was certainly a day to remember and I can’t wait to see the series when it airs!
By Kate Whittington