When I was a child my Mum and Dad would often parcel my sister and I off to Nana and Grandad’s while they went to a Dinner Dance. This was usually at ICI where my Dad worked almost all his working life, and they would get all dolled up, suited and booted and what passed for ‘bling’ in those days. They would collect us on Sunday morning, all bleary-eyed and sleepy. It was in those days the height of sophistication, and despite disco’s and clubbing now, it still is.
Well we just got invited to a Dinner Dance; this was actually a 70th birthday, but was effectiviley the same thing. And in a funny way we really enjoyed it. It was at the Cliffs Pavilion Restaurant in Southend; well, Westcliffe-on-sea to be precise, which is the better bit of Southend, where candy-floss and fruit machines are not to be seen. The beach is a thin strip of sand which becomes an expanse of mud as the tide goes out on the estuary. Canvey Island, the shores of Kent and Tilbury are just a few miles away, and the view is industrial rather than scenic.
The meal was very good, melon, roast beef and bread and butter pudding, and those who do not understand the logistics of preparing and serving over a hundred dinners in an hour or so cannot appreciate just how well done it was.
There was nice acoustic live music all through the meal, and the hardest task of all, to perform well while no-one claps or even seems to be listening, although I was, was really nicely done.
Then there was a disco and dancing to lots of old sixties and seventies hits. The restaurant was quite hot but there was a row of French windows leading out onto a wide balcony overlooking the sea, which offered a lovely contrast and breathing space. So, all in all a lovely evening – old-fashioned, yes; but none the worse for all that.