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Vintage Dance Society
By C.J. Lazaretti · 16th July, 2012
Nostalgia is never far away when you walk the grandiose interiors of the Royal Albert Hall. Capitalising on the history-soaked legacy that brought Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and other jazz greats to its stage, the London landmark has produced its own soirée of swinging frolic. Vintage Dance Societypacks two live bands into a night of frantic tunes tailored for dance enthusiasts.
Fighting such unfavourable odds was Fred Snow, more widely known as the frontman of irreverent sextet Top Shelf Jazz under the stage name Arthur Foxaque. The singer and guitarist hosted the show with all the wisecracking flair he routinely boasts at the head of his band, showering the audience with bawdy teases and exhortations to lewd behaviour. It’s a pleasure to watch him work the crowd, especially after recovering from a recent illness that halted the rake’s prolific live schedule. Whatever keeps Foxaque off the stage is a great victory for social reformers, but a dreadful loss to London.
Top Shelf Jazz supplied the first set. Dancing couples quickly warmed up to golden oldies like Putting On the Ritz and Let’s Misbehave, as well as Gentlemen in Squalor, Got My Ticket and other originals full of spunky syncopation and infectious grooves. The promiscuous outfit has an ever-changing line-up, with different musicians answering to the same stage names on every show – ‘Sydney Blasé’ and ‘Professor Tickle-Upright’ are examples of the inspired monikers.
Vintage Dance Society also marked the launch of Hot Club – Live at the Quecumbar, the second release by Benoit Viellefon and His Orchestra. Alternating album cuts with assorted jazz standards, the sextet ploughed through the likes of After You’ve Gone and Sheik of Araby, filling up the dance floor with a fierce It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing). Punctuated by swift rhythms and thundering solos, the band’s set thrives in the type of contagious jazz that is hard to stand still to.
Billed as ‘an evening of music and dance from the Roaring Twenties’, the show also included complimentary dance classes half an hour before its start, courtesy of dance collective Swing Patrol. Professional dancers from the troupe performed lively dances on both sets, also picking members of the public to join them on the dance floor, in pairs or as part of a circle of shimmying, clapping flappers.
Vintage Dance Society. Hosted by Fred Snow. Elgar Room, Royal Albert Hall, London. 12 July, 19:30. £18.50. www.royalalberthall.com