Historical references to London's sounds

A database of several hundred historical descriptions and references to London's sounds. They're drawn mainly from primary sources such as autobiographies, diaries and statutes, as well as novels written around the times they depict.

11th to
16th to
18th Early
 Pub life, music and song   1 3     1 5 3
 City-wide celebrations     3 2   3 3  
 Toasts, dinners and feasts     2 1       1
 Theatre and cinema audiences     2 1 1 1    
 Music and song in theatres     2 2   2    
 Public music and song outdoors     3   1 4    
 Education: Oratory and debate   1            
 Gambling and fairs     1 1 1 2 1  
 Sporting events   1 1 1 1      
 Families at leisure             1  
 Dancing             1  
 Local celebrations           1   1

Period referred to: 1940s

Sound category: Social > Dancing

Title of work: 'Hep-cats: Jive at the Paramount Ballroom' from The Public's Progress

Type of publication: Collection of essays

Author: William Sansom

Year of publication: 1947

Page/volume number: n/a

A Public for Jive

But now Heilige Nacht has ended, the last notes like toothpaste have been squeezed from the tubular saxophone, the muted trumpet. A short pause and then all the brass of the orchestra crashes open the first tidal chord of a fast swing tune. An epithet much used in the idiom of swing is 'solid'. A 'solid' driving beat is produced that 'sends' the dancers. It seems almost as if an invisible material force is at work, as though the instruments emit successive walls of sound that force the dancers on their way. And now these walls have already galvanized the floor with a strange excitement. The force of sudden movement, the unison enthusiasm, is palpable. The hep-cats are at it, the jive is on, they're in a groove.

[. . .]

Lastly, on a fortissimo note, there is the night of a special jive competition . . . The huge band plays only jive, and almost without a pause. There is little general dancing, the floor is split into huddled circles of enthusiasts pressing forward to see virtuoso exhibitions by experts . . . jiving the night out to cheers and clapping and cries of 'Harry!' and 'Go it, Bert!' till the selections are made and the winners announced.