Thursday, 16 September 2010

SS Atlantica, vintage cruising on the Thames.

My Saturday started with a far from unusual ‘hair disaster’. The demon 1960’s heated hair rollers that had provided a perfect set on a previous night were used again. I planned frothy curls, yet for some bizarre reason, when used on Saturday several sections came out poker straight. I blame North London, perhaps it is the water? I always look rubbish when I get ready there. In any case I had five minutes to rescue my appearance and instead of youthful feminine curls ended up with a severe Wallis Simpson up-do.

I was attempting to impress with my tresses in anticipation of ‘SS Atlantica’. This is organised by the people who run the ‘Blitz’ night which I haven’t been impressed by in the past, not due to the ents or music but the crowd; far too many ill-mannered Hoxton twatkids. A bit of me felt that spineless door staff, the need to make a buck and ultimately a location in Shoreditch all worked against that particular evening. A pick-up point by the Thames and numbers limited by very strict river passage laws could prevent this from happening at the SSA. Also the idea seemed to be to recreate a thirties cruise feel and I had never seen the banks of the Thames by night. Thus I found myself standing beside the Savoy Pier at 9pm waiting for a boat that wasn’t there. I was however in very stylish company, the ladies resplendent in long dresses and the chaps suave in their black or white tie.

The Silver Sturgeon

We bundled on the boat at high speed determined to establish a cocktail base camp although ultimately we needn’t have worried, those boarding quotas meant the boat was full but not overly. However we were, vitally, right besides a bar. The boat’s interior was swish and modern, not particularly deco in itself but classy. In any case a couple of portholes is all you really need to conjure up a period feel and the craft was definitely more first class White Star Line than HMS Peculiar. There was a dance floor and two decks and plenty of softly lit booth seats by the windows. A selection of themed cocktails were available at about the £7-8.00 mark but the bar prices were more reasonable than those in their stationary equivalent.

Bar and 'our' table for the night.

Entertainment was provided courtesy of Uke Chanteuse Tricity Vogue who provided gutsy renditions of 30’s standards and more recent ditties given a vintage spin. Aside from this there was a casino and DJs spinning the shellac. The thirties tunes were peppered with crowd spinners such as Glenn Miller’s tunes (the vintage equivalent of ‘Come on Eileen’ and ‘YMCA’). There were only a few hard core lindy hoppers and jivers, which was surprising as there are few things as glamorous as boat based twirling. Plenty of people dancing though.

The bearded one and I preferred to sit and relax, with occasional trips outside to check for marauding pirates. Generally people had made a real effort, there were of course a couple of fancy-dress flappers and a few stray sloanes but I didn’t see any jeans and there were a couple of splendid maritime uniforms. The ladies largely wore long dresses and stoles which is as it should be, those not attempting period dress were in a minority. One of my favourite lines of the night, directed at a lady in an uninspiring wrap around mini dress was a muttered ‘it’s not a bloody toga party’ from the laconic Mr Choy. There were other murmurings about men wearing ‘bally hats indoors’ but other than this everyone looked smart. A couple of the frocks had me seriously contemplating… theft.

Suave gents..

Our view whilst moored.

The boat actually didn't set off until close to 1am, some nonsense to do with tides. The act of actually moving made a difference, there is something extremely glam about hoofing on a moving boat and the Thameside looked extremely pretty by night. Many carousers went on deck to enjoy the spectacle and we moored for a while by that decorated cake of a bridge, Tower Bridge; all spruce after it's recent scrub. This was definitely classifiable as a good night out and I look forward to the next one when I will obtain a stole (I can bring my self to wear wabbit fur) as the London night may be glamorous but is also nippy!

For photographs (my camera is being replaced as it has given up the ghost) please see Helen Love's flickr stream: here


garofit said...

with all the little short comings, it still seems to have been a very nice night; it's certainly something i dream of, and participating to one would be the absolute pinnacle of vintage parties!

Stefanie Valentine said...

I was thinking of coming to this but I just couldn't afford it unfortunately. But it looks like it was a good night, and certainly sounds very glam!


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