Above is a fascinating British Pathe newsreel covering a gala event of some sort (a charity ball perhaps?) held at the Cafe De Paris in London in 1931. The impossibly elegant crowd are clothed in white tie and gowns. The dance floor is so overcrowded as to make one squirm even from this distance. From this post-Covid perspective it looks like a viral breeding ground. The fact that people were more prone to catching deadly flus and pneumonias at that time makes me wonder how they could be so comfortable being jammed together as they are. The musical acts are a curious and interesting batch; a pianist/singer named Russell John performs a song about New York City and a duo act, Kenneth and George Western, perform a very well received comedy number called ‘It Was Bound To Happen Again’. The jokes that set up the punchline–the songs title–are topical in nature and thus completely obscure to me (although one appears to be about Winston Churchill switching political affiliations). This was filmed with a sound-on-film camera, enabling the natural sounds of the crowd to be picked up without boom microphones interfering with any of the reveler’s entertainment. At the time Cafe De Paris was the snootiest and most stylish club in London. Over the ensuing decade it declined in quality and in 1941 it was bombed by a German attack during the Blitzkrieg. Incredibly, the club survived and is still in existence today, a mere five minute walk from Picadilly Circus. 


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