Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from goo.gl/Ta4oAX.
Published May 9th 2013
A place to dance the night away
Kingston Working Men's Club
As the name suggests, Henry Solly founded the Working Men's Club (WMCIU) in 1862 to provide a friendly environment for working class men to socialise. Originally it was a men's only club, but times have now changed and since 2007, women can become members. In my opinion, they took their own sweet time in passing the motion, and I'm still quite shocked that some old fashioned branches still do not allow women in the bar. All I can say is that it is their loss.
Fortunately for me, the Kingston branch is more liberal, not only allowing women, but also dogs. I was pleasantly surprised to see a lady with a chihuahua, chatting to a group of men inside.
Although I am not a member, the day I went, the club was open to the whole public as part of a festival, in which they had some professional dancers making a guest appearance.
Dancing in the street.
Before the main event at 3.30pm, the teacher, Mr. Kirby, was holding free dance classes throughout the day, in which he was teaching people simple dance routines. The most able were swinging and jiving out on the streets to a live band, while the slightly less rhythmic were practising in the dance hall.
Dancing in the hall
I arrived in the afternoon to see the professional dancers, but during the intervals, all the women (the men didn't seem interested in dancing - or were too embarrassed) who had been practising took to the floor.
Mr. Kirby leads the dance.
These dancing sessions are just a taste of what is available to members, as the club holds regular dancing events - something that men only clubs are missing out on. On Mondays, they have 1940s & 50s swing jive classes called Everything's Jumpin'. The first session is for beginners at 7.30pm-8.30pm, and there is a second class for improvers that followers directly after. Later on at 10.30pm, if you still have the energy, you can take part in a freestyle session. Individual classes are £7, but you can take two for £9, or all three for £10.
On every second Friday of the month they have a Simply Swing Thing, with music from the 30s, 40s, & 50s. Dress up in vintage outfits and you can jitterbug, lindy hop, and dance ballroom between 8pm-10pm.
Finally, on the last Saturday of every month for £8, you can go to Kingston's Jumpin' Jive for a 'toe tapping, finger snapping' good time, including blues music & rock n' roll.