The map is wonderful insight into the diverse nightlife and cafe society of interwar Soho thought of as “the negro quarter of central London” in the 1930s.
It explores 13 venues, from the Florence Mills Social Parlour opened by Pan-Africanist political activist Amy Ashwood Garvey (first wife to Marcus and FEARLESS BOSS LADY!!) to the Cafe de Paris, at the time London’s most fashionable venue, frequented by the rich and royal.
The map isn’t available to the public yet but they’ve let me a couple of copies to give away. If you’d like a one, drop me a line at email@example.com and I’ll post it out to you.
We all like a bit of freeness innit!?!
“About Soho we went before the light; We went, unresting six, craving new fun; New scenes, new raptures; for the fevered night Of rollicking laughter; drink and song, was done.” - Claude McKay, La Paloma in London, 1922
I hear that Dame Shirley Bassey will make her first appearance on the Academy Awards on February 24th. I can’t wait to see that! Here, she is in her dressing room in London in May 1958, looking almost as good as she does today! Photo by Popperfoto/Getty Images.
Since we’re on the Black British Jazz tip tonight - have to mention the imitable Dame Cleo Laine.
Dame Cleo is the only female performer to have received Grammy nominations in the jazz, popular and classical music categories.
Came across this excellent newsreel about the “Stars Campaign for Interracial Friendship” in 1959 which was formed to combat the White Defence League. Her husband, composer John Dankworth, was chairman of the campaign. Cleo Laine discussing how she would have to be repatriated her to her birthplace… Southall.
Ken “Snakehips” Johnson Britain’s first Black swing bandleader, c.1936.
“I determined I’d make them like swing at the Café, or die in the attempt, and boy, I nearly died”
On Saturday 8th March 1941, during the Blitz, that two German bombs exploded on the dance floor of the Cafe de Paris after the start of a performance. Thirty-four people died including Johnson – who was decapitated – and saxophonist David Williams. An eyewitness recalled how he was found lying dead, a flower still in his lapel. He was 27 years old.