Saturday 29th August 2010 : 19.00 - 23.30 : "Putting on the Glitz" - 5th Birthday Party of Elmbridge Music on board M.V. Erasmus, River Thames, London
It all started 5 years ago and our celebrations to mark that fact began with a beautifully designed invitation card addressed to us personally. Then came many hours of work and planning by a hard working few people. The result was a fun, well organised and memorable evening. The following is an A-Z of the result (in no particular order!):....
Amazing social team members had put many hours into planning the 1920s themed cruise on the Thames from the Millenium Pier, London. Art deco images adorned many areas of the boat and we were asked to add our own artistic touch to a communal canvas.
Boas, boaters, beads and blazers bedecked the 154 members of Elmbridge Music as they were transported into the 1920s in 2 double decker Countryliner buses. Bruno and da Babe greeted us on board da boat demanding to know our secret passwords.
Champagne, the Charleston and candles, were all awaiting us. ‘One Candle' had rewritten words, was rehearsed on the coaches and sung to Cliff as a complete surprise in recognition of his caring creativity in the conception of the choir 5 years ago. Cakes had been specially made to celebrate the occasion and were consumed later along with the Crème Caramel and Chef's Special Cheesecake.
Dapper, dashing and dynamic is the description of the men who had donned their various gangster, zoot suits, sporting and roaring 20s outfits. Dining and dancing were the main diversions of the evening.
Erasmus - the name of the luxury cruise boat, named after a famous Dutch philosopher - whom you will all have heard of! Energy - where did it all come from for all that dancing - obvious fuelled by the hot and cold buffet with interesting combinations by having a bit of everything all on the same plate!
Flappers including fella flappers, fringes and feathers flying everywhere.
Gangsters, gaiters, garters and gorgeous great views of London lit up at night - Greenwich, the Thames Barrier, the Dome and many other famous landmarks which, unfortunately, were only savoured as passing glimpses as there was too much going on on board to have much time to gaze outside.
Hurry up was the thought as we queued on the pier in our finery hanging on to our hats and hairstyles and eagerly awaiting the arrival of MV Erasmus but happy to be sure that we had a humdinger of an evening ahead.
Instruction was illustriously given by a 1920s idol in dances that were in vogue - Charleston, Black Bottom - we tried, it was fast and furious, we lurched to the right, we lurched to the left - was it the wine or the wash of a passing boat!
Jolly jazz for jitterbugging and swinging to was provided live by a swing band organised and led by Andy from the Elmbridge Big Band.
Kick, kick, knees, knees, peck, peck, swing, swing, bottom, bottom, shoulder, shoulder, puff, puff - we were all kidding ourselves that we could crack it on the crowded dance floor.
Lively disco music rounded off the evening with the more familiar modern and much loved (or much loathed by some!) YMCA and with the Locomotion being led all round the dance floor and even up on to the moonlit uncovered deck above.
MC for the evening was Steven, who seems to have become a regular must at our events, having mastered the unenviable task of making things happen at the right time and the right place whilst at the same time making merry himself.
‘Nigel has sent' me was one of the top secret passwords. I hope I'm not in trouble for divulging this classified information! No-one notified me of any others so no more will be revealed. If we were still peckish as the night wore on, there were still plenty of nuts and nibbles in neat little dishes on the tables.
Overall organisation was outstanding and I'm sure that those of us who had not been involved with all the inevitable behind the scenes trials and tribulations were overjoyed that it was all in the capable hands of others.
Presentations were made by Cliff to various people in appreciation for their efforts and as prizes for the people dressed to perfection. Prohibition was a major issue in the 1920s but we didn't take it that far - I saw no evidence of it that night!
Quizzes were to be found stuck on the windows and were a useful excuse for taking a breather from the quite frantic antics on the dance floor. I usually quake at questions like these but for once I was quietly confident - all I had to do was lift the flap and there were the answers - QED!
Roaring 20s represented the social, artistic, cultural dynamism of the time - a phrase very suitable to use when referring to Elmbridge Music and the razzmatazz of the era was certainly evident this evening.
Special 1920s Slang was in use and we were suitably supplied with a special slang dictionary, useful for translating ‘Boarding the Juice Joint Instructions' and when some, taking the 1920s theme too far, lapsed into the vernacular.
Time waits for no man and all too soon it was 11.15 pm and with the brightly lit London Eye towering over us, we were back where we had started from and it was time to disembark.
Unloading began, there was the usual urge and the usual queue for the ladies loos but we were all upbeat and unreservedly agreed that it had been a most enjoyable evening.
Vociferous farewells were heard from valued friends old and new - and late-night visitors to the South Bank had an extra special view of us all tottering in our finery to our various vehicles to make the final leg of the journey home.
What a wonderful way to celebrate - and the weather was kind to us too - where do we go from here - watch this space!
Xmas rehearsals are next on the agenda with all hands on deck to make the concerts on Saturday 11 December the best yet.
Years have gone by - 5 of them - it seems like only yesterday that it all began but, as Cliff says, Elmbridge Music would be nothing without you and you and you so, yippee for us, keep singing and playing - and they say it keeps you youthful as well!
Zoot suits, bow ties, trilby hats, chaps, spats, dangly ear-rings and shoes that pinch - at last all zealously removed and so for a good night's Zzzzzzz!
We sang: One Candle - very shortened version, very changed words!