Tea Dance 2011 by Tracey Fahey
The Borough Hall has long been associated with social dancing.
“The Borough Hall was originally built as part of the former Greenwich Town Hall and opened in 1939. It consisted of two main blocks, the Town Hall (known as Meridian House) which contained administrative offices and the council chamber, and The Borough Hall, with its two public assembly halls for entertainment and social activities.”
From the moment Greenwich Dance Agency took on the Borough Hall tea dances, led by the David Kent Quartet, were programmed.
Tea Dance by Tracey Fahey
This was followed a little later by a fuller social dance programme – Social Dance Thursdays – which contained ballroom dancing with Thomas Michael Voss, Tango with Pablo Alonso and Lindy Hop with Temujin Gill. Ceilidh’s and barn dances were also programmed from 2003 to the building’s closure in 2018.
“I have very fond memories of Social Dance Thursdays at Greenwich Dance. As well as an opportunity for those who had attended the regular classes to come to practice, get some extra coaching, it was also a great way to introduce new people to the space, the culture and Greenwich Dance’s wider activities. For me though, the really special outcome was how people supported and helped each other, getting to meet, dance and strike up conversations with people they had never before, inspiring some really positive community links.”
Greenwich Dance created a guide for tea dancing here and a lovely film by Magda Rakita.
Tea Dances by Magda Rakita
When Greenwich Dance moved to Charlton House, adult dance classes resumed with lindy hop, by artist Wendy Steatham, one of our most popular classes.
“Teaching the Lindy Hop sessions at Charlton House was pure joy. I watched an initially quiet and reserved class of adults grow into a tight-knit, bonded community group – building their confidence and skills as they danced together and laughed (a lot!) together. What started as weekly classes grew into so much more – a Whatsapp group was formed, videos of rehearsals during the week were shared and arrangements for group outings organised. Not just dancing but fun and friendship too. Typically Greenwich Dance!”
Tea dances were also resumed, led by the talented and inclusive Peter Meager. Buoyed by the event’s popularity the team scoured charity shops for secondhand tea sets in anticipation of this new season of programming – which sat rather beautifully within the historic Grand Library of Charlton House.
And then Covid put a stop to social dancing like it did so many things.
Wendy was one of the artists who worked with us to transfer dance classes online and we talked with her and artist Maria Ghoumrassi on our podcast episode Summer of the Zoom Class about the experience of teaching what is essentially a social dance in isolation. It had challenges but both artists found so many positives which we hope we will learn from as we grow.
Wendy and Temujin also partnered to create our immensely popular downloadable Lindy Hop Tutorials which you can find and access from our website.
Once the pandemic had subsided, the Greenwich Dance team moved out of the heritage setting and into a new space, along with a cupboard full of unused vintage teacups!
One day we hope to have them in action again… watch this space.