Monday, 15 October 2007

The 51 Club

From down the hall, in the kitchen, comes the banjo beat of Himself’s jazz tape.
He is totally enthused now, having had a good jamming session last Wednesday, and a visit to hear another New Orleans Jazz band yesterday down at the pub in Hayle.

You walk into the Smugglers and it’s like stepping into a time warp. A secret club. This is the 51 Club, which has been running for over 30 years by New Orleans jazz enthusiasts for like minded people. They have a raffle every week and you pay £3 towards the cost of hiring a different band every week.

As we walked in, we were greeted effusively by everyone, the average age range being late sixties/seventy. It was like walking into a big family party and Mollie was clucked and fussed over. Everyone was smiling, tapping their feet to the thrum thrum of the drums, nodding their heads to the cry of the clarinet.

Behind Himself was a table of regulars (mind you, they’re mostly regulars). A lady in her 80s at a guess, with permed and sprayed hair. She sat, evidently dressed in her best, sipping a tonic water with a straw, a vacant smile on her face. At her feet was a Yorkshire Terrier, only his face visible as he stared out at the crowds with chocolate eyes. At the end of their table was a man eating crisps who must have been at least 90, in a pale blue suit. He waved his arms around as he listened, enjoying himself with the enthusiasm of a child. It was touching to see.

When Viv and I came back, after our walk, it was nearly three hours later and the band was nearly wrapped up. The stage started filling up for the last number, and this elderly audience got to their feet. Viv and I waited, expecting a slow waltz or something similar.

Nota bit of it. They started jiving, and we were amazed by their dexterity, by the way their experienced feet twinkled in and out, by the neat turns and twists. By their smiling, panting faces, joined together in a shared love of racy music and the freedom of dance.

The 51 club is truly an experience.

16 comments:

Mopsa said...

A generation that was happy to be taught how to dance - how very wise they were.

Flowerpot said...

I quite agree Mopsa. This lot are really missing out.

Graham, Prince & Tilly said...

I wish there was a jazz venue near to me that allowed canine fans. I suspect Tilly and I wouldn't leave...

laurie said...

what fun. music like that can inspire even the weak to dance all night!

Flowerpot said...

Graham - it was lovely to see several dogs there yesterday. Mind you, my ears were deafened so I dread to think what the poor dogs thought! Mollie was quite pleased to get out into the relative quiet outside!

laurie - yes, next time I go I'm going to ask a friend of Himself's to teach me how to jive. I never learned and it's about time I did!

Rebecca Taunton said...

Sounds like you had a wonderful evening. There's nothing like a bit of jazz to enjoy the evening with.
RT

Flowerpot said...

RT - it was afternoon actually but good nonetheless! They are an eccentric bunch but loveable and fun loving - suits us well!

Miss Understood said...

I love to see the oldies in action, whatever it is they're doing.

I once got onto the bus and started chatting away to a guy in his eighties. I was so engrossed, I missed my stop! Their stories are wonderful. Their outlook on life and the world as it is today, is even more wonderful. Wish I could have been there...

Akelamalu said...

I'd love to visit the 51 club, I think I'd fit right in!

PS You have an award to collect m'dear, please call by when you have a minute.

Aoj & The Lurchers said...

Well bloody good for them!! The young have a tendency to think the old should just shuffle about or sit in a corner. It always surprises them to find that the older generation do still actually have a life.

I want to wear purple when I grow old!!

Flowerpot said...

MissU - yes, that generation lived such incredible lives, it makes others seem very pale and uninteresting. Good for you for listening to that fellow.

Em said...

I'm always impressed at how well 'oldies' dance!! I was taught to jive and cha cha cha and waltz etc at school, but haven't danced properly for years and years. Doubt if I can manage much more than a gentle waltz now! My parents came together through their love of dancing. Their jive apparently used to clear the floor!!

Flowerpot said...

Ak - I'm sure you'd love it so any time you're down in cornwall come on down. Many thanks in advance for the award!

Flowerpot said...

AOJ - I agree entirely. ANd yes I am going to wear purple when I'm old. Come to think of it, I was wearing a purple sweatshirt yesterday. Not one of my favourites but its warm adn comfortable!

Flowerpot said...

Em - what a lovely story about your parents. Sad to think taht art is so lost now. I never learnt anything like that (ballet was my speciality) and wish I had now. Still, never too late to learn to jive.

The Rotten Correspondent said...

That sounds like a lovely time. And energetic, too!