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Tea dance and vintage seaside on the South Bank

Posted on August 1, 2011


markdionmobilegullappreciationunitcreditbelindalawleyThe Southbank Centre’s celebration of 1951 and the Festival of Britain continues throughout August, from retro delights to ways of looking forward.


There’s a grand programme of free attractions across the site this summer, paying homage to the landmark 1951 Festival, described at the time as “a tonic to the nation”.


With this weekend’s theme, “Seaside with Southend-on Sea”, you can enjoy a day at the seaside without leaving London. The South Bank has been decorated with a 70-metre urban beach, complete with a giant seagull eyeing the proceedings sternly. On Saturday evening, visitors can dance to music from the 20s to the present day at an outdoor tea dance – looking back to one of the most popular features of the 1951 festival.


Free music and poetry will be performed by Southend-on-Sea artists throughout the weekend, while you can play crazy golf in the Clore Ballroom, support the teams competing in a traditional beach regatta or enjoy the alternative end-of-the-pier show taking place in and around the brightly-coloured beach huts along Queen’s Walk.


Picture: Mark Dion’s Mobile Gull Appreciation Unit. Photograph: Belinda Lawley

Zoë was born in Edinburgh, and saw her first dance performances at the Festival there. She is the dance critic of The Independent, and has also written for The Independent on Sunday, The Scotsman and Dancing Times. In 2002, she received her doctorate from the University of York for a thesis on “Nationhood and epic romance: Ariosto, Sidney, Spenser”. She is the author of The Royal Ballet: 75 Years and The Ballet Lover’s Companion.

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