Zap Art and inroads productions joined forces with The Centre for Research in Memory, Narrative and Histories to develop this project which explores the social mores and gender etiquette of partner dancing in the 1950’s, and celebrates the history of the Regent Dancehall in Brighton and The Winter Garden in Eastbourne. A community outreach programme was organised with intergenerational activities such as talks, exhibitions and tea dances (with the Ragroof Players), oral history training, heritage learning and creative art and drama and writing workshops. The project will culminated in two performance events in November 2013 in Brighton and April 2014 in Eastbourne. Fringereview.co.uk awarded the performance aspect with a five star review.
Dr Sam Carroll (CRMNH, University of Brighton) trained two cohorts of volunteers in oral history interviewing skills at venues in Brighton and Eastbourne. The volunteers recorded interviews with local people who had memories of the Regent Dancehall and The Winter Garden and partner dancing in post war Sussex. Each group worked together to extract themes from the collected transcripts which assisted playwright Sara Clifford in preparing scripts for productions in each venue.
CRMNH hosted a seminar in November 2013 for the Our Dancing Feet project.
Dr. Claire Langhamer (University of Sussex): Love and the dancehall.
The romantic aspects of dance hall culture are well known to those who frequented them. One 1959 survey of young married couples found that a quarter had met on the dance floor and dance hall rituals were designed to make introductions fairly effortless. Dancehalls seemed naturally romantic: music, soft lighting, sprung floors and the physical proximity of dancing bodies added to a mood of intimacy. In this talk I will place the romantic history of the Regent within the wider context of courting and dating 1950s style.
Dr. Jane Hattrick (University of Brighton): 1950s couture fashion and dance dresses.
Fashions in the 1950s were still set by the top couture houses in London and Paris, and styles worn by the British royal women, Princess Margaret and Elizabeth were followed by the fashion press and filtered down into ready-to-wear. This talk will discuss London couture fashions and 50s dance dresses in the context of the queen's coronation of 1953 and the last court presentation in 1958.