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The fun side of the 1930s.

SATURDAY, January 12, 1935, and people around Teesside would have been settling down that evening - perhaps before going to the cinema, the pub or to a dance - to have a look at the latest edition of the Stockton and Teesside Herald.

In the days before television this weekly magazine published by the Evening Gazette provided the people of our area with a pictorial record of what had been going on locally. Christmas and New Year had passed but the magazine was still full of pictures showing people at festive functions and parties.

These photographs really do call into question our popular image of the mid 1930s, a time which, history tells us, was full of poverty, depravation, unemployment and deep unease about Herr Hitler. Of course there were many economic problems and many families really suffered but that was clearly not the whole picture. As for worries about what was going on in Germany, people were more likely to be concerned about things at a local and personal level, just as they are now. As we can see in these two pages, people on Teesside in 1935 really knew how to enjoy themselves. At the top of the left hand page we see a whist drive in progress at the Industrial Orthopaedic Hospital's dance at the Dorman Hall, Middlesbrough while next to it is a picture taken at a fancy "old fashioned" dress party held by the Middlesbrough Women's Conservative Association, also at the Dorman Hall. Further down the same page on the left is the Middlesbrough firemen's children's party with young Phyllis McElroy doing her best to entertain the children with her 'rose dance'.

There are more photographs of children's fancy dress parties and a trip to the pantomime for the choirboys of St Barnabas' Church, Middlesbrough. But perhaps one of the most touching pictures is of the children - all dressed in identical clothes - from Nazareth House receiving sweets from two members of the cast of a pantomime at the Middlesbrough Empire. By contrast, right next to that picture, we see Avril Rushford and Sybil Graham from the Sugden-Brown School of dancing demonstrating The Continental. This was a dance popularised by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodgers in their film The Gay Divorcee. The film had only come out just before Christmas 1934 and it was a sensation. The lyrics to the song went "Beautiful music, dangerous rhythm ... you kiss while you are dancing, the Continental.."

It was daring stuff in 1935 and consequently very popular. The right hand page is made up of more parties, fancy dress and otherwise, ranging from very young children at Thornaby British Legion and staff of the Economy Laundry Norton to pensioners at the Redcar Works Athletic Club. These two pages certainly give us a very different view from the popular image of the 1930s and one that many of us today would not have expected.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jan 14, 2012
Words:482
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