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A tea dance in the Borough Hall
Photo by Magda Rakita

Greenwich Dance's Guide to Tea Dances

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Never been to a Tea Dance?

The Borough Hall was built in the 1930s for social dancing, and we continue that tradition with our signature Tea Dances, each with a live band (and free tea and cake!).

Ahead of our new season, here’s a handy guide of what to expect.

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What is a Tea Dance?

A Tea Dance is an afternoon social dance with tea and cake. It evolved from the concept of afternoon tea in the 1880’s and became hugely fashionable in the early 20th century. They’ve enjoyed something of a renaissance in recent years, both with older generations who remember them from first time round and young vintage enthusiasts.

There have been Tea Dances at The Borough Hall in Greenwich since it opened its doors in the 1930s, and Greenwich Dance have continued them here for the past 20 years.

What kind of dancing is it?

Think Strictly Come Dancing. Our live band play a mix of songs from the 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s for Ballroom and Latin dances, such as the waltz, foxtrot, tango and cha cha cha with a few Ratpack classics thrown in. They will also teach you some Sequence dances which are set routines (usually 16 bars long) that are repeated. The band will announce the dance before each song, so everyone knows what to do.

Do I need to know all the steps?

It helps, but we always welcome complete beginners. All you need is enthusiasm, and if you have a dance with one of our friendly regulars, they’ll be happy to lead the way.

There is one golden rule – dance in the same direction as everyone else (we don’t want any collisions!)

Do I need a partner?

It’s traditional to dance with a partner, but you don’t need to bring one. Part of the fun of a social dance is meeting new people to dance with, so you can come on your own. Of course, if you’d rather dance all afternoon with your own partner or friends, that’s fine too.

Did you mention tea and cake?

Absolutely! There’s a break in the middle for a cup of tea or coffee and a nice, big slice of cake. It’s included in the ticket price – we know all that dancing is thirsty work. We also have a bar open throughout, if you fancy something a little stronger.

What should I wear?

There’s not a set dress code but most people like to dress up - think dresses (especially floaty ones) and smart trousers and shirts for the men, and perhaps a bit of sparkle. Some people wear special dancing shoes but it is by no means essential. Ladies might like to wear a comfortable pair of heels.

Are children welcome?

Yes – we welcome all ages and abilities however it is important that everyone uses the dancefloor for social dancing and not running around to prevent accidents. Children should always be supervised by their parent/carer. Those who don’t like tea or coffee can always have a glass of milk or squash.

Anything else I should know?

Don’t be afraid to ask someone for a dance, and don’t be surprised if someone asks you.

Find out when our next Tea Dances are