Saturday, 16 July 2016

Tea Dance [music]

My route into vintage was via the 1920s, and a love of silent films and the music of the era. I've dipped more into later decades in recent years, but recently felt the need for more jazz-age stuff on my iPod*. It has been literally years since I got some new-to-me music from that era. I used to be able to buy CDs from Duck, Son and Pinker, a shop in Bath that had the best selection of vintage music, and bought a lot of CDs back when I was able to browse their stacks, but since that closed down options have been limited. I'd got a couple of CDs on the Past Perfect label from Past Times when that was still going, so decided to order some more discs straight from Past Perfect.


The CDs arrived the day after I ordered them. I can't fault Past Perfect's service, and as I got Tea Dance and Tea Dance 2 as a bundle it was cheaper than Amazon even with shipping.

All the tracks are taken from original vintage records, with the annoying scratches and pops acquired over decades of use removed. They're from the 1920s to 1940s, though I felt the disc definitely leans towards the earlier side of things.

Tea Dance is exactly what you'd expect: music suitable for a tea dance. In case you've never come across those, they are literally what they sound like, dancing with afternoon tea on the side. So, much more sedate than cocktail-fuelled 1920s parties or 1940s swing nights. Nowadays they seem to be held for older people, though why pensioners should have all the fun is beyond me... I'd drop in to the monthly tea dance in Trowbridge Town Hall if only I weren't at work.

One thing I liked about the music on this one is that many of the songs are tea- or baking-themed (though it's worth noting that 'tea' was also Jazz Age slang for marijuana, and I suspect the line in Texas Tea Party, 'Mama where did you hide my tea?' isn't a polite enquiry as to where mother has stashed the Earl Grey). There are some non-tea themed ones, too. My favourite tracks include the Boswell Sisters/Dorsey Brothers' version of When I Take My Sugar To Tea, The Mills Brothers' Sweeter Than Sugar, and Fred Astaire doing Let's Face The Music And Dance. Top of my list, though, is the last one on the disc, A Nice Cup of Tea by Sam Costa and Peter Yorke and his Orchestra. It's both silly and civilised, and sums up exactly how I feel about my favourite drink.

If you like 1920s and 1930s music, I definitely recommend this compilation. You don't need to dance to enjoy it. It's cheery without being frenetic, and full of the spirit of the Jazz Age away from the frenzied partyings of Bright Young Things. It's my cup of tea.



*Yes, I still use an iPod. It saves me filling my phone up with music, and is extremely useful when I need to get my head down at work and block out other stuff going on in the office. Plus it keeps me going through my morning walk.

16 comments :

  1. I've always fancied going to a tea dance and wearing a beautiful tea frock and now you've said they actually had a proper tea (with cakes, I hope) on the side - I want to go even more!

    Have a great week Mim,

    Veronica
    vronni60s.blogspot.com

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    1. Our local ones are subsidised at a five a head, and they have dance lessons thrown in. Sounds like a winner to me.

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  2. "Tea" and "Tea-head" were both still widely in use when I grew up in Chicago (60's/70's). Once, it caused an awkward situation when my dad walked into the neighbourhood deli and told the owner, "I'm horribly sick today...can I just have some tea?" Turns out, there'd been a couple of plainclothed detectives there looking to bust a drug dealing operation! They quickly figured out dad was after the sort you drink.

    A tea dance sounds like a very nice tradition.

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    1. The question is, did they think your dad was a policeman or a genuine customer?!

      Every once in a while the teabags run out at work. That is a CRISIS.

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  3. I still sometimes use, and perpetually love, my iPod, too. They were, and remain, an excellent invention and can be handier, IMO, in some settings than using a phone for music. So long as mine is alive and kicking, I'm sure I'll continue to reach for it from time-to-time.

    Big hugs & happy Sunday wishes,
    ♥ Jessica

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    1. I'm glad I'm not alone in my iPod use. My husband is amazed I still use mine. (Then again, he doesn't listen to music the way I do.)

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  4. I'm afraid my iPod, which was going everywhere with me, has been gathering dust lately. As my husband is crazy about vintage portable record players, we have been buying a lot of vintage records lately, include 78s, which obviously have a lot of scratches and pops, and listen to those. I love 1920s, 1930s and 1940s jazzy music, so I guess I would like your CDs. xxx

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    1. I bet your records are ace! I have a wide and varied CD collection; everything from 1920s to 1960s, proper goth, bit of metal/rock, and some oddball stuff (gothic surf music, anyone?).

      All our vinyl is in the attic as we have nothing to play it on.

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  5. I'm such a Luddite I don't have an MP3 or even a mobile phone that plays music. I went a bit mad on CDs when they first came out but still love the warm sound of vinyl best! xxx

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    1. We don't have room for a record player. (Tiny house.) Maybe if we get the living room fireplace sorted, and get one that actually fits the chimney breast, there will be room.

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  6. Got to agree with Vix, vinyl is the bizz. CDs are so handy though. I am siting listening to this album. It is on You Tube, just listened to the Cosmopolitan Life one too. My Mum would love these, thanks for the introduction. Xx

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    1. They're such fun tunes. I listen to this sort of thing when I'm feeling relaxed but upbeat. (When I'm in a right grump, out comes the metal.)

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  7. My grandmother used to go to tea dances. She used to reel off the names of all the 'big bands' and she'd tell me where she'd danced to them. Wish I'd taken more notice. She'd have liked playing these tunes on her radiogram. :) What I do remember is that she was walking home from a dance one night when she saw Crystal Palace burning down. History is fascinating, isn't it? I used to like the actresses from the silent films, Lilian Gish et al.

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    1. It must have been amazing/horrifying to see the Crystal Palace burn. I still wish I could see it!

      My favourite silent star is Colleen Moore, the first flapper superstar. I've never seen one of Gish's films, though she looks amazing in stills - so fragile.

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  8. These CDs sound super, I think I will be going after them! I didn't know that tea was a slang term for anything so I learnt something reading this too!

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  9. I still regularly use my iPod, are they being sidelined for phones now then? I use mine mostly with a wee cube speaker when doing housework or cooking, as it's portable. I also prefer listening to music through a speaker than directly in my ears xx

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