CABERET AND DANCE

The popularity of dancing has become a symbol of the ‘roaring twenties’. The craze for dance was accelerated by the American troops who introduced dances including the Tango, Charleston and the Shimmy to Britain in the war years.

BALLROOM DANCING

Title: Magical Margate
Date: (ca.1925)
Film-maker: Community Production

This clip is taken from a promotional film of Margate from the 1920s and shows activities available at this coastal resort including an afternoon tea dance. In this sequence, the camera looks down upon a crowded dance-floor where couples waltz swiftly around the room. Many women wear loose-fitting light-coloured mid-calf length dresses whereas the men sport lightweight flannel suits. The looser-cut fashions for women, which appeared in the 1920s, allowed for greater freedom of movement and were in part a response to the new energetic dance styles performed to jazz music.


MINSTRELS

Title: [Broadstairs & St. Peter’s Items]
Date: (1936-1937)
Film-maker: Enid Briggs

‘Uncle Mack’s Minstrels’ and their cabaret show performed on Broadstairs’ beach from the late 1890s for over forty years. Wearing their black ‘burnt cork’ make-up, the minstrels appear in striped Pierrot costumes and army hats. In other sequences they wear mortarboards. Their song and dance routines were accompanied by piano, drum and banjo.

Uncle Mack’s Minstrels were an integral part of the Broadstairs summer entertainment in the early part of the twentieth century. In 1911 they were voted the most popular troupe of the British Seaside resorts. Black-faced entertainers became popular in the mid 1800s and soon became popular at seaside resorts, often organising singing and dancing competitions for children.

Changing attitudes to race and racism, led by the Civil Rights movement in the United States and represented by law in the UK with the Race Relations Act of 1976, led to the end of ‘blackface’ entertainments in the UK in the early 1980s.


FEMALE DANCERS

Title: [Broadstairs & St. Peter’s Items]
Date: (1936-1937)
Film-maker: Enid Briggs

Along with Uncle Mack’s Minstrel Show, female dancers were part of Broadstairs beach entertainment. Here two women are seen wearing flared satin trousers with matching short jackets. The excess material in the trousers and the puffed shoulders enables them to move freely, while the satin reflects the light and adds glamour.

Title: [Broadstairs & St. Peter’s Items]
Date: (1936-1937)
Film-maker: Enid Briggs

Also part of the Broadstairs beach entertainment, the women in this clip are seen dressed as maids or waitresses, in short satin dresses with little aprons. This clip has been looped twice in order to show an extended view of the costumes in motion.