flashmob pam & terry 169It’s Saturday afternoon in Manchester and shopping area Piccadilly Gardens is teeming with shoppers and pedestrians going about their business. A man in a velvet frock coat casually sets down a stereo by a grassy verge and presses play. ‘Sing, Sing, Sing’ by big band legend Louis Prima is soon blaring from the speakers.

Two smartly dressed folks begin to spontaneously dance the Charleston and then, as if by magic, other couples appear from the crowd and start to join them. Before long a synchronised routine is being played out in full of view of the amused onlookers. Liz Kenny reports from Manchester’s Charleston flashmob.

This is a Charleston flashmob, organised by Simon Buckley, co-founder of the Rags to Bitches vintage fashion boutique in Manchester’s Northern Quarter and brought together with the expertise of Pam and Terry from retro dance company, ‘Katz Korner’. The unusual spectacle soon has many a mobile phone snapping away and a large audience gathers.

The day started with a Charleston lesson in the basement of the Rags to Bitches shop on Tib Street. Under the light of a beautiful antique chandelier, Terry and Pam ran everyone through their paces, teaching them the basics to put together a convincing yet simple routine. The majority of the participants had never attempted the dance before but luckily it’s fairly easy to pick up. Within half an hour we had an impressive bunch of movers, with some even decked out in flapper dresses or three piece suits.

Terry is an authority on all things swing and filled me in on some background details. He and Pam run the dance company ‘Kats Korner’ which organizes events and runs classes all over the north-west. Terry told me the origin of the name ‘Kats Korner’ stems from the Saflashmob rehearsals066voy Ballroom in Thirties New York.

All the big name swing stars of the day would gather by the right-hand side of the stage preparing to make their entrance, and this became known as ‘Cats Corner’, as in hep cats – the Thirties term for the coolest of the cool. Incidentally the term ‘Lindy Hop’ came from a newspaper headline concerning Charles Lindbergh crossing the Atlantic. Or as the paper put it ‘Lindy Hops the Pond’.

 

 

 

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