The origins of popular social event

Tea Dance Waring Green Community Centre - 25.9.1989
Tea Dance Waring Green Community Centre - 25.9.1989

The origins of the Tea Dance here in the UK can be traced back to Victorian England.

These social events were usually held between four and seven in the summer or autumn. It has been suggested that it evolved from the afternoon tea.

The usual refreshments included tea, coffee, ices, champagne-cup and claret-cup, fruit, sandwiches, cakes and biscuits.

In its early days the dances included the waltz, tango and, by the late 1920s for the more with-it tea dancers, The Charleston soon proved to be very popular. Music was always live and even when the phonograph became popular the preference was always for live music. This would be given by a small orchestra similar to the Palm Court style of orchestra and was always preferred to that of recorded music.

This photograph was taken in September 1989 at one of the regular and popular tea dances held at the Waring Green Community Centre. Whether any of these Tea Dancers shown went as far as dancing The Charleston with wild abandon is probably unlikely but I am sure they will have had a good time in their own way.