The Story Of The Blue Dahlia

In 1998 a wonderful new club appeared on the London swing dance scene.

Towards the end of 1998, two of London's best-known swing couples got together to create a club with a difference. Nigel Bewley (DJ Flying Home), together with his wife Nina, and newly-weds Andy Hall (Reverend Boogie) and Julie Miranda (Miss Aloha) started The Blue Dahlia, which has grown to become the best club in London.

The secret of their success is the ingredients thrown into the mix: a wonderful venue at The Polish White Eagle Club in Hamilton House on Balham High Street, turning each night into a themed event, top swing bands, the best DJs and clothes, shoes and memorabilia stalls combine to set it apart from anything else happening in the capital. 

Swing Time has consistently supported this venture, and shamelessly admits to an extreme bias in its favour. In line with this attitude, here are the reviews and previews of all the Blue Dahlia events to date, so you can see what you've missed - and get to the next one! For up to date news of all the activities of Flying Home, visit the Jolly Good Show web site.

As previewed last month, there's a special event on Friday 16 October 1998 presented by The Blue Dahlia. Live band Uncle Fish Fry play jump, jive and r 'n' b and Flying Home plays the best in 30's, 40's and early 50's dance music. It's happening at The Polish White Eagle Club, Hamilton House in Balham High Road starting at 8.30pm through to 12.30am. You can get tickets by calling 0181 540 6330 or 0181 998 7540 and the numbers are limited to 220. You are cordially requested to dress smartly!

For those of you looking for the best evening of the year: you may have already missed it. The Blue Dahlia took place on Friday 19 February 1999 at the wonderful Polish White Eagle Club and it was a sell-out success. The band was Sophie Garner and Her Swing Kings, with vocal support from Red Peters. Vintage stalls sold clothes, ties and trinkets from the 40's and 50's, while Flying Home, The Reverend Boogie and Miss Aloha kept the crowd dancing. 

And what a crowd. The outfits on show were everything that other clubs claim to have. Spectacular period frocks, countless military uniforms -Army, Navy, flying jackets - meant the evening took on the appearance of an electrical storm at times, as camera flashes went off every few minutes. Freelance photographers were on their knees begging for admission at the door in order to get pictures.

The Blue Dahlia returns to The Polish White Eagle Club in Balham with The Hot Club de Kings Cross on Friday 16 July 2000. This delightful combo has been thrilling savvy dancers in Islington on Thursdays and Sundays with performances at assorted hostelries. DJ music from Flying Home, the Reverend Boogie and Miss Aloha. Advance tickets available on 0181 998 7540. Last time, Sophie Garner and Red Peters entertained a sellout crowd, so don't miss out on Friday 16 July 2000.

Another fine night at Hamilton House Friday 15 October 1999, where The Blue Dahlia celebrated its first anniversary with an evening of Hawaiian highlights with Martin Wheatley’s Hula Bluebirds. Once again, the clothing and jewelery stalls did a brisk trade, as punters warmed to the theme. Certainly most had entered into the spirit of the evening, Hawaiian shirts (what else?) greatly in evidence. 

The band produced a full sound for a trio, evoking images of swaying palm trees and tropical beaches. The recorded sounds presented by Flying Home, The Reverend Boogie and Miss Aloha resulted in more millimetres being worn off the dance floor. The next BD will be on Friday 21 January 2000, a DJ special with Terry’s Sentimental Journey and Tim’s Jumpin’ Jive joining the hosts.

The Blue Dahlia continues to set standards that other clubs can only dream about. The Hollywood Glamour night on Friday 21 January 2000 saw all but a shameful few guests turn up in dressed-to-kill outfits. No band this time, giving more time for host DJs Flying Home, The Reverend Boogie and Miss Aloha to keep the dance floor full. They were joined by guests Terry Elliott and Tim's Jumpin' Jive for sets that kept people happy well past the witching hour. As usual, there were the delightful clothes stalls for compulsive and impulsive shoppers, and the bar could have done with more than the one person serving!

Blue Dahlia Oscarä Awards were handed out to the best outfits, and were carried off by The Roman Centurion (not recommended as a dance outfit), 'Marilyn Monroe' (the white halter back dress never goes out of style) and 'Zorro' (who was that masked man?). Bearing in mind that Sugar Ray's Flying Fortress was playing The 100 Club the same night, it was an excellent turn-out at any time, and especially on a cold wet January evening. Next time TBD plans to trump all-comers, with the intention of bringing none other than James Langton and His Solid Senders to Balham in May.

But Are You Not Spoiling Us? The Blue Dahlia held The Ambassador's Reception (complete with gold-wrapped chocolate balls) on Friday 26 May 2000 at Hamilton House, and it was well up to standard. Once again, the frocks and suits on show put all other events in the shade, with white ties and tails adding real class to the event. The advertised orchestra, The Solid Senders, appeared sans leader. Mr James Langton was otherwise engaged, and was ably deputised by Pete Long. "The next song is I Cover The Waterfront" Pete confidently announced. Then, off-mike and unheard by most, he turned to chanteuse Louise Cookman and asked "Is there any singing in this?"

The crowd was entertained with Sing Sing Sing, 9.20 Special, Between The Devil and The Deep Blue Sea and Watch The Birdie. DJ Flying Home played a tribute for the 80th birthday of Peggy Lee, while Reverend Boogie signified the witching hour by dousing the dancers with balloons. These were promptly trampled underfoot until the dancefloor looked like safe sex night at a New Orleans bordello.

Friday 27 October 2000: It's The Blue Dahlia's B Movie/Horror night. Words cannot do justice to the costumes worn by the dancers. So here are some pictures.

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