Dancing through the Decades at Vintage Festival 2011

Wayne Hemingway’s Vintage Festival inspires debate.  Devoid of authentic nostalgia and simply an over-rated shopping experience or a succesful celebration of British style, art and design from the 1920s through to the 1980s?

The incredible PR surrounding the event and our pre-existing infatuation for all things ‘vintage’ had probably raised our expectations to a level that would never be realised.  Unfortunately there was a distinct feeling whilst walking around that you are indeed at some sort of marketing convention with free copies of the Sunday Times Style and reduced price Elle magazines in printed canvas bags being thrust into your hands along with a dozen flyers for vintage boutiques and dance lessons.   We were hoping for more exhibits and displays of art, design and fashion through the ages and didn’t particularly learn anything new about the eras we so adore.  The Museum of 51 was an exception and did have some interesting sections and posters.

The festival was not quite the marvelous melting pot of retro recollection we had hoped for but that said we still had a fantastic time and saw some truly great looks whilst walking around.  Some of the great people we saw –

Being able to dance through the decades in the different rooms dedicated to swing, rockabilly, mod, soul, funk, disco and ska was definitely the most fun part of the festival.  Flitting through the rooms, spending an hour with each genre amongst a crowd of smiling people.  The atmosphere was unpretentious and friendly.

One of the highlights was watching The Bombshellettes, a 18 piece all girl swing band paying homage to the glamour of Big Band swing and the lindy hopping forties.  Not quite the scene below from Hellzapoppin but some original old-timers were certainly looking sharp and impressing on the dancefloor!


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