History with its flickering lamp stumbles along the trail of the past, trying to reconstruct its scenes, to revive its echoes, and kindle with pale gleams the passion of former days. ~Winston Churchill

15 July, 2011

Nightlife in the London Blackout

We've seen how the streets of London's West End were abuzz even in a blackout; the bars, theatres, and night-clubs of the West End were no different. The war and threat of bombing hardly stopped people from having a good time, even if an air of poignacy hangs over the whole thing. 

 Photographed by David E. Scherman for LIFE magazine. .Many of these photographs ran in the Februrary 21, 1944 issue of LIFE. 

Jitterbugging at the Paramount Dance Hall on Tottenham Court Road. I've no idea why he's wearing that sign (dance contest?). Source

A bohemian-style 'Poor Man's Club' [ie, working-class club as opposed to the traditional upper-class club]. Source

An orchestra and dancing at the Covent Garden Opera House, converted to a night-club for the war. Source

A girl dancing the jitterbug at Paramount dance hall. Source

Watching burlesque, I think, at the Stoll [theatre? night-club? strip joint? not specified]. Source

Full-out stripping was an option too. Phylis Dixey on stage (if you must know, she goes all the way). Source

The Embassy Club on Bond Street [the posh type, I think; they mostly look like officers]. Source

A girl talking with an American sailor. I find this absolutely adorable. Source

Inga Anderson singing at a restaurant off Berkely Street (if that means anything to you). Source

Drinking in a bar. Source

American soldier dancing with a member of the (British) Woman's Auxiliary Air Force at Paramount Dance Hall. Source

Leaving the West End on the Tube station's escalators. Source

Saying goodbye at the end of the night outside Piccadilly Tube Station. Source


CHThree said...

Have you ever heard of "The Paris Club"? It is referred to in the film "The War Lover" starring Steve MacQueen. I was wondering if it was a real place and maybe it referred to the "Cafe de Paris" which stayed open during the war.

AR said...

I was wondering what your source for the photo with this caption (Inga Anderson singing at a restaurant off Berkely Street) was. The source link no longer works, I know its a LIFE photo, but just wondering what issue, or site it is from.

Anna said...

Hi AR,

Sorry about the dead link-- at some point between my older posts and newer ones the online LIFE photo archives (where these photos come from; http://images.google.com/hosted/life) did something that changed many of the URLs. Here is the current link to that image: http://images.google.com/hosted/life/a71dfde77ed14f5e.html . Many of these photos ran in the February 21, 1944 issue of LIFE, though not that particular one: http://books.google.ca/books?id=VFQEAAAAMBAJ&lpg=PA67&dq=london%20blackout%201944&pg=PA66#v=twopage&q&f=false

Hope that helps!

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