‘At this time there were eleven major ballrooms in Glasgow, compared to Edinburgh with five. Since London had fewer than this, Glasgow was considered to be the capital of dance in Great Britain, if not in the entire world. Wasn’t it Jack Diamond of the city’s Dancing Academy who, along with a Mr MacNaughton and partners, first demonstrated the Argentinean Tango in the McLellan Galleries on Sauchiehall street in 1913, inspiring a half column in the Glasgow Herald? Hadn’t the battalions who marched through the city to war a year later carried its irresistible tempo in their heads, their feet marking out the tricky steps in the trench until the lethal shell arrived? And back in Glasgow, many young women received as tactful gifts from sweethearts and spouses the best selling manual The Tango and How to Dance It before being invited to the latest craze, Tango Teas.
Robert Hunter’s destination that mild evening in another world was the Albert Ballroom. He had come to this hallowed dance place on pilgrimage because he had read about the Warren family who owned the Albert. The patriarch was John Warren, assisted by his wife Annie, and their two sons and two daughters had been raised in an environment which Robert considered to be blissful, an elegant ballroom, which, in its early days had advertised: Gentlemen, one shilling, Ladies, invited.
Robert has come through to watch the Warren dynasty giving an exhibition dance of the Argentinean Tango. The males were immaculate in swallow-tailed coats and white gloves, the ladies in ankle-length gowns. The patriarch’s son John was partnering Miss Dorothy Dawn, who would become his wife. But the patriarch wasn’t dancing with his wife Annie. Their daughter Jessie, divine exponent of the Royal Empress Tango, had died several years before at the age of eighteen, and her heartbroken mother Annie would never dance again.’
The above extract is from the short story Everything is Pleasing at the Plaza in Lorn Macintyre’s new collection of stories, encompassing Swing Dancing, Scottish Country, Ceilidh, Irish and Ballroom, and celebrating the era in the mid 20th century when tens of thousands of people crowded the dance floors of Scotland. Miss Esther Scott’s Fancy by Lorn Macintyre (paperback £9.99) is published by Priormuir Press. Order via www.priormuir-press.co.uk or through Amazon or Waterstone’s.