Mood Music

We enjoyed most I think dancing at the Covent Garden Opera House - they didn’t do operas during World War Two so they turned it into a dance hall.

I have been listening for the last half hour to the music of my salad day and the memories come crowding in.  The music of the forties which accompanied myself and my friends throughout our teenage years.

Dancing at the Hammersmith Palais to the music of Lew Preager and his Orchestra, the American Stage Door Canteen to the music of the one and only Glen Miller and his orchestra, the Queensbury club and Bob Farnon and his music. I could go on for quite a while about these wonderful music makers but I would like to mention all the other dance halls which were opened up in London for the entertainment of people in uniform.

We enjoyed most, I think, dancing at the Covent Garden Opera House – they didn’t do operas during World War Two so they turned it into a dance hall. All the seats and trappings of an opera house were removed and the dance band performed on a stage right in the centre of this huge theatre.

Our special night was on Sunday evenings which was especially for the members of the forces. It was a sort of club and it only cost a shilling to get in, and for that shilling, we got Ivy Benson and her all-girl dance band, tea, coffee, soft drinks and refreshments. No alcohol or drugs, we didn’t need anything like that to prop us up.

At other times we used to get invited to a dance at the American Base along the road. They used to send a lorry to take us there and bring us back, and a good time was had by all. I must say at this point it was only WAAFs who were invited.

We had regular dances at our own camp, of course, RAF Uxbridge, to the music of the Squadronaires. This orchestra was made up of members of the RAF.

They don’t make bands or music like that any more but I expect I am prejudiced. They bring back such wonderful memories of the people I met from all corners of the world and the pleasure and happiness we found in each others company which helped balance out the awful parts of the war.

Kitty Brightwell

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