Sophie Garner and The Raiders

Wet weather couldn't dampen the spirits of the dancers in Watford on Saturday 26 August.

The Watford ring road was paralysed on Saturday 26 August 2000 as three million people battled to get into the town for a free festival. Amongst their number were social dancers who bravely joined members of The London Swing Dance Society in the centre for a rain-soaked afternoon of jive and swing.

The Raiders in Watford
Raiders of the Last Arch

Market Square in the middle of the shopping centre was renamed Swing Time Square (no relation) for the afternoon. Sophie Garner and Her Swing Kings were first on the inflatably-covered stage, followed by rock 'n' roll band The Raiders. Together they entertained the assembled throng with live music throughout the afternoon. Concerns that the stage covering would have to be inverted to execute an Ark-like rescue mission proved unfounded, as the downpour eased to a drizzle as the day progressed.

Simon Selmon acted as Master of Ceremonies, and together with some of his Sugarfoot Stompers put on a display as well as holding a class. The surface, a sloping wet pavement, was more suited to a Slug Aquaplaning Grand Prix than dancing. But it would take more than this to put off these hardy souls, who took it all in their stride. If you're worried about getting wet, then this kind of activity is not for you. After a while, it hardly mattered whether you were getting damp from the inside out or vice versa.

Judith Hammer and partner
Swinging in the rain in Watford

Passers-by stopped to admire/photograph/video the proceedings, no doubt impressed by the dedication of those risking pnuemonia for the sake of one more dance. At various times the dancers were joined by a unicycling clown and a top hat and tails-attired stiltwalker. Sadly, neither of these characters joined in The Shim Sham.

This was the first of an open-air double-header for Simon Selmon, with an appearance scheduled next day at Waterloo Jive (see separate review). Well done to him and his team for putting on an all-weather sunny disposition in adverse conditions.

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