The Secret Tea Party: Charleston and cake
Yes, sir, I can charleston! And it's all thanks to Mrs Stokes. Her latest vintage tea party promised, along with afternoon tea, charleston lessons. I've always wanted to learn how to do it, so today I went along to eat cake and dance it off. (There was plenty to eat, and the five of us on our table did not manage to clear the cake stand. I fear I have not worked off all those sarnies.)
The witty Countess Arseuppi was our compere. The dance workshop was run by Graeme and Ann of Hoppin' Mad, and I was surprised at what an easy dance it was. I only did the solo workshop, not wanting to partner up for the pairs, and there were a couple of moves I wasn't especially good at. Still, I managed not to kick anyone or fall over my own feet, which is pretty good going for me (had there been such a thing as 'remedial sports' at school I'd have been in it). Later Graeme and Ann did a couple of exhibition dances, which were just brilliant.
Other bits going on included a raffle, a pop-up salon doing hair and makeup, and a fab display by Bath shop Vintage to Vogue, including a fun 1950s dress in a playing card print, and a lush 1930s evening gown in the sort of matte black silk velvet that stops the light completely.
There was also a stall selling items from Mrs Stokes and from another trader whose name I have forgotten. I did have a hard time restraining myself from buying a handbag from Vintage to Vogue or a pretty glass vanity set or vintage hairbrush set from the stall.
Of course, what really makes an event like this is the people, attendees as well as organisers. It was lovely seeing so many people looking fab. Not everyone went 20s, not everyone went vintage, but everyone made an effort, and after wading through the mire of denim that is the Southgate shopping area all that charm was really refreshing. What's more, everyone was happy to chat, and loads of us joined in the dance workshop. If you've ever fancied going to an event like this and don't have anyone to go with, fear not: Catherine (Mrs Stokes) makes sure all the lone attendees get to share a table so no-one feels left out or lonely.
I got the impression – but don't quote me on this! – that the next secret tea party will have a burlesque theme. Assuming it doesn't clash too horribly with my wedding anniversary plans, I'll be shaking my tassels then…
Photos are: The charleston workshop; some of Vintage to Vogue's lovely stock; people enjoying a chat with the pop-up salon beside them; my fab tea companions Sarah and Andrea