“Remember, Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, but she did it backwards and in high heels.”



A couple of years ago gyms were flooded with women who had oozed into their neon Lycra for the specific purpose of shaking their extremities around to pumping Latin music. Rewind a couple of years before that, and women were queuing up to flail around on a pole in high heels and gym shorts.

Fast forward to today: Zumba rhythms have been done; pole dancer trash chic is passé….where to turn next for our extra-curricular shimmying fix? Vintage is one lifestyle trend that has passed the test of time and fifteen years since coming out of the counter culture closet is still going strong.

Trends come and go, fads peak and trough – but vintage is all encompassing. It gathers every trend and every fad under its tulle umbrella and gives them all a second, third, fourth…hell, however many chances they need, to be hung on padded hangers, hung on bony shoulders and hung outside ChiChiRaRa when the love affair is over.

My first vintage purchase hangs proudly in my wardrobe (actually I should probably admit that it’s currently bundled at the bottom of a laundry bag). It is a 1930’s silk long dress in a riot of colours.

It started life in Malaysia, via London, via my Mum’s late 90s dress agency, and now lives in my haphazard care – with holes in the silk and the boning completely snapped, but still as prized as ever.

Vintage doesn’t just mean trawling The East End Thrift Store and owning a scratchy record player. I’ve stepped it up to hounding little old ladies at antique fairs for their jewellery, but even I can’t be bothered to coerce my hair into a Gibson hairstyle every day. Vintage can be anything from a dabble to a way of life, and so many pursuits in between.

One of these in between pursuits brings us neatly back to our original conundrum – we want to dance but Gangnam Style hurts our dignity and stripper shoes hurt our feet.

The Book Club; scene of live poetry, arts and crafts and ping pong; in conjunction with the wonderful Itchy Feet Academy, are offering an alternative to Rihanna-soaked dancefloors where bodycon is the dress code and grinding is the norm.

Thursday 11th April brings their mix of swing dancing, cocktail supping and good times to Leonard Street, for an evening of informal instruction with feet in Charleston shoes and tongue firmly in cheek.

You don’t need to be Ginger Rogers incarnate, and you don’t need to bring your own Fred Astaire. The emphasis is on dressing up, cutting loose and having fun – as Itchy Feet themselves say: “It don’t mean a thing, if you ain’t got that swing”.

More info and tickets


About Amy Victoria Gray

Perpetual scribbler, drifter and wanderluster – Blighty born and bred, and settling in London again after jaunting far and wide from the crashing surf of South Africa to the outback wilds of North Western Australia. Writing, dusty bookshops, fire spinning, Jimi Hendrix and the ocean make her happy. Spiders, salad cream, chick lit and shark finning have the opposite effect.


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