Visit London Blog » vintage Enjoy the very best of London Fri, 22 May 2015 17:44:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 1920s Parties and the Gatsby Glamour in London Wed, 15 May 2013 16:00:31 +0000 The phrase ‘hotly anticipated’ doesn’t really do Baz Luhrmann’s film adaptation of The Great Gatsby justice. 1920s fever is everywhere, and if you’re looking to get in touch with the hedonistic spirit of the age, London’s outstanding range of themed parties is for you. If you need a bit of help perfecting your look beforehand, however, check out the capital’s extensive range of vintage shops.

The Candlelight Club

A firm favourite amongst regulars of London’s vintage scene, the Candlelight Club hosts clandestine parties at which you can get in touch with your inner flapper or beer baron. A Prohibition-themed atmosphere is augmented by a range of delicious cocktails, which are tailored to the theme of individual nights. The next party, based around ‘A Night in Old Havanah’, is on 31 May and tickets are £15.75.

Great Gatsby Nights at the Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill

Indulge in a 1920s-inspired three-course menu with champagne at the hotel’s Great Gatsby nights, which take place every Thursday evening in May. Guests are encouraged to arrive in period attire, and the best dressed each evening will win a stay in the Grand Hyatt New York. Even if you don’t win, however, you can console yourself by dancing the night away to the event’s live jazz band. Tickets are £35.

It’s A Gatsby Swing Thing! at The Ritzy Cinema, Brixton

The cinema celebrates the Great Gatsby’s release by hosting an extra-special swing dance party on 18 May. Guests can show off their charleston and lindy hop to tunes by two great bands: the King’s Cross Hot Club and the Smokey Taps. Fancy dress is actively encouraged and there’s a Swing Patrol dance workshop beforehand (£8) for anyone who needs to brush up on their moves. Tickets to the party are £6, or half price if you have a Great Gatsby film ticket from that day.

1920s Evenings at The Orient Express and The Savoy Hotel

These events are a bit further in the future, but sound like they’re worth the wait! Enjoy a Gin Rickey at The Savoy Hotel’s renowned American Bar before indulging in a sumptuous dinner about the Art Deco carriages of the British Pullman train, which will take guests on a romantic trip through the countryside while they dine. After the meal, you’ll be transported back to the Savoy for a night’s stay in the hotel, which once hosted The Great Gatsby’s author F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda. The first of these events takes place on 5 September and prices start at £685: see the Orient Express website for full details.

The Prohibition Party

One of the events which arguably galvinised the growth of London’s vintage movement, the Prohibition Party is renowned for its dedication to the 1920s theme. Guests can enjoy cocktails served in teacups before dancing to live bands, trying their luck at the gaming tables or snuggling down to watch some silent cinema. The next event takes place on 1 June at a suitably secret location.

Miss Turnstiles’ Great Gatsby Pamper Party

Head to vintage model Miss Turnstiles’ vintage patisserie in east London for an elegant pamper party, in which you’ll be able to complete your Gatsby look. Not only will you get a manicure and a fabulous hair-do, but you’ll also be given expert make-up tips that will help you perfect the vintage style. The next available party date is 31 May and tickets include cocktails and nibbles: see the website for full details.

Charleston Masterclasses at Claridge’s

Want to prepare for all these Gatsby parties in style? Head down to Claridges, where you can learn to Charleston in the sublime setting of the Art Deco hotel. Guests will watch an expert performance by the Bee’s Knees, before donning vintage-style accessories and learning the moves themselves. Don’t worry about getting out of breath, the event ends with a restorative ‘Flapper’ cocktail! Tickets are £125, see the website for event dates and full details.

Great Gatsby Weekend at Whiteleys Shopping Centre

Get into the Gatsby spirit at this weekend event, which celebrates the best of the 1920s. Open from 12pm to 5pm this Friday, Saturday and Sunday (17-19 May), Whiteleys’ event will feature an actor-staffed speakeasy bar, swing dance lessons, vintage fashion shows, beauty tips, live music and a dress-up photo booth. Entry is free.

Libertine Presents Gatsby!

Fitzrovia’s newest nightclub jumps straight into the swing of things with its Gatsby party on 23 May. Libertine’s party features champagne, canapés, a live jazz band and a special burlesque performance. Tickets are £30

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What’s On This Weekend. 12-14 April 2013 Mon, 08 Apr 2013 10:00:22 +0000 It’s a great weekend for vintage transport in London, as you can learn about the tube’s history in Acton and admire traditionally-attired cyclists during the Tweed Run. If that inspires you, why not jump on a Boris Bike and explore the city on two wheels?

The London Tweed Run

Are your sartorial senses dismayed by today’s lycra-clad cyclists? Celebrate proper cycling attire at the annual Tweed Run, a refined bike ride through London in which all participants are dressed in tweed. Many of the bicycles used match the traditional clothing, and you’ll see unicycles and vintage bikes amongst the mass of cyclists. Places for participants have now been allocated, but spectators can watch along the route – keep an eye on the Tweed Run website for details. 13 Apr

The E4 Udderbelly Festival

Get ready to giggle as the upside-down purple cow returns to the South Bank for another summer of top comedy, circus and cabaret. Not only does the E4 Udderbelly Festival give you the chance to see hilarious acts such as Richard Herring and Stephen K Amos, but the festival space also boasts a huge outdoor bar which is great for sunny afternoons. Visit the festival website for ticket and schedule information. 12 Apr-14 Jul 

Asia House Festival

Immerse yourself in the Orient at the fourth Asia House Fair, which features the best in arts, crafts and design from across Asia. More than 35 stalls will be present, offering unusual handmade gifts from the likes of China Life, Memsahib and Treasures from the Silk Road. Visitors can also enjoy Afternoon Tea in Mackwood’s Tea Room. Entry is free and you can check the fair’s opening times on the Asia House website12-14 Apr

The RHS Orchid and Botanical Art Festival at Royal Horticultural Halls

See spectacular displays of orchids at the Royal Horticultural Society’s show, which presents displays from prominent British and international growers. Visitors can also shop for beautiful plants, listen to talks by orchid experts and marvel at the largest botanical art display of the year. Tickets are £8 and can be booked on the RHS website, where you can also view the show’s opening times.  11-13 Apr

Spring Open Weekend at the London Transport Museum Depot, Acton

Celebrate the 150th anniversary of the London Underground at the London Transport Museum’s Depot, which houses more than 400,000 items. As well as seeing the Metropolitan Steam Locomotive No. 1 in steam, families can ride the model railway, listen to talks, see fascinating displays and even make their own model steam train. Tickets are £10 and the event runs from 11am-5pm both days. 13-14 Apr

More London events

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London Photo of the Week: Trafalgar Square, 1957 Sat, 01 Oct 2011 08:00:38 +0000

This photo of Trafalgar Square in 1957 makes us want to rush to London’s vintage fashion shops and fill our wardrobes with pretty dresses!

Krogen shared this great photo with the Visit London Flickr group. If you have some facinating vintage photos of London, we would love to see them!

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Video of the Week: “Vintage” London Travel Video Sun, 13 Feb 2011 14:00:03 +0000

We rather like this video by AReality, but all is not quite as it seems… While it looks like a fuzzy 1970s home movie, most of the shots are of a very modern London. For instance, we’re pretty sure the London Eye wasn’t around last century!

AReality explains that this was actually filmed on an iphone, using the 8mm app.

Let us know what you think of the results in the comments below!

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Visit London Asks: Which is your Favourite Vintage Musical? Wed, 20 Oct 2010 10:30:14 +0000

Will the vintage musical ever go out of fashion? With their fabulously flirty costumes, the jiving and jitterbugging and the fun tunes, it seems retro shows just keep getting more popular.

My absolute favourite is Grease, which I saw for the third time this week. It is as good as ever, with all the rock’n’roll numbers everyone remembers from the film, and dance routines that are as brilliant as expected from choreographer Arlene Phillips. The cast has recently changed and now features Matthew Goodgame (Channel 4 Musicality, Chicago) as the leader of the T-birds, Danny Zuko and Lauren Samuels (BBC1 Over the Rainbow finalist) making her West End debut as Sandy. Despite tackling some controversial social issues like teenage pregnancy and gang violence, this musical is a fun night out for everyone, and a must-see on the London stage before it goes off on tour in Spring 2011.

Other vintage musicals to see in London:

  • Flashdance: new to the West End stage it tells the tale of 18-year-old Alex, welder by day, “flashdancer” by night, who hopes to be given a place at the Shipley Dance Academy.
  • Dreamboats and Petticoats: a sweet song-writing love story that features many classic songs.
  • Dirty Dancing: brought to the stage after the hit 1987 film about rebellion, growing up pains and above all, the power of dance.
  • Sweet Charity: the story of a dancer-for-hire at a Times Square dance-hall who finds love at last (hurry it ends 6 November).

Why not kit yourself out in the appropriate retro get-up from Rokit in Covent Garden, Portobello Market, Camden Markets or one of the quirky shops on Brick Lane.

What’s your favourite vintage musical in London? Tell us in the comments below…

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In Pictures: The Thames Revival 2010 Mon, 13 Sep 2010 11:00:21 +0000 Thames Revival. Photo by Jenny Owen Thames Revival. Photo by Jenny Owen Thames Revival. Photo by Jenny Owen Thames Revival. Photo by Jenny Owen Thames Revival. Photo by Jenny Owen Thames Revival. Photo by Jenny Owen Thames Revival. Photo by Jenny Owen Thames Revival. Photo by Jenny Owen Thames Revival. Photo by Jenny Owen

Boats and bunting were the order of the weekend at the Thames Revival. The event, part of the Mayor’s Thames Festival, celebrated maritime history with a gathering of classic boats at St Katharine Docks.

There was lots of nautical fun to be had including a vintage tea tent, paper boat racing and a 1930s-themed party, SS Atlantica, aboard the Silver Sturgeon.

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The 39 Steps Vintage Night at The Criterion Theatre Fri, 07 May 2010 11:03:36 +0000

This week I attended The 39 Steps Vintage Night in London’s West End.

The 39 Steps is a classic play (and a book, and a famous film directed by Alfred Hitchcock) that’s been running since September 2006 at the Criterion Theatre at Piccadilly Circus.

I was attracted to the idea of their special “Vintage Night” because I love dressing up and I’d heard the show was good fun. However, given the Hitchcock connection, I expected they play itself to be a bit serious and moody. In this, I was utterly wrong, The 39 Steps is a fast-paced, thoroughly enjoyable, highly entertaining spectacle from go to whoa.

Set in the 1930s, the play begins with leading man Richard Hannay (dashingly played by David Bark-Jones) having just returned from abroad to his “humble” Portland Square abode. He laments he’s tired of life (tired of London too, we presume) but his situation quickly becomes a lot more exciting when he meets a dark and mysterious German woman (Dianne Pilkington) who reveals a plot involving international espionage before she is killed, leaving Hannay as the prime suspect. He goes on the run, catching a train to Scotland (on which he encounters a stylish blonde – also played by Dianne Pilkington) then racketing about the countryside attempting to prove his innocence by exposing the arch criminals at the heart of the spy ring.

There’s a host of minor characters – policemen, newspaper boys, Scottish farmers and hoteliers – all played by two actors (Timothy Speyer and Jeremy Swift) and it’s amazing what they can do with some quick costume changes and ingenious set devices.

In fact the whole thing is extremely slick and clever – using all the old drama school tricks such as the four-chairs-make-a-car routine, flapping coats and bits of mime to denote a windy roof of the train and in-jokes about other Hitchcock movies – all delivered to great effect and with impeccable comic timing.

Afterwards we joined the other vintage lovers for a very civilised supper in the Criterion Theatre‘s impressive Victorian foyer. Here we were treated to retro teacups containing iced tea with a shot of gin (G&Tea by Vintage Secret), and delicious cupcakes decorated with recurring motifs from the play – handcuffs, lampposts, a pipe – from The Vintage Patisserie.

The Vintage Night was a nice twist on a traditional trip to the theatre and I was left with a big smile on my face. And I’d recommend this show to anyone who wants to see a jolly good West End play without it being too serious. There’s no need to dress up (although you can, of course!).

Buy your The 39 Steps tickets today.

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