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jazz

Lydia raises over £700 for homeless charity Emmaus at The Swing Spectacular!

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What a night! Once again the love of swing music and dancing was shared amongst the people of Essex in a fantastic night at Colchester Arts Centre. From the moment the doors opened I could tell that this year was even more exciting than the first. Guests piled in, all looking the part, eager to get the festivities started and head to the cocktail bar ready to dance at 8 o'clock sharp. 

Familiar nerves had gripped me all day in the final stages of preparation for the event, but as soon as the venue started to fill up and the atmosphere intensified, all nerves left me to be replaced by excitement and joy at being able to share my love of music with hundreds of people. The feeling is almost euphoric; I was so happy and proud to be on that stage, having brought all those people together myself for the second year running, screams and cheers throughout the night keeping myself and the band motivated through our three sets.

One of the highlights of the night was most definitely the set from Threebop. We rehearsed intensively for just over 2 months since forming in late February 2017, with our debut firmly motivating us. We thoroughly enjoyed bringing such fun arrangements of both classic jazz songs and jazzy pop covers to the evening, backed expertly by the Sweeting Swing Band. This was the perfect way to start our journey as a jazz vocal trio, and we will not be stopping there.

Both in between and during sets, were demonstrations and displays by the unstoppable Seaside Stompers, lead by Nicola Wood. With their talent, energy and flare for swing dancing, the night was transformed into an authentic 1940s party, with every single person up on the dance floor at one point to learn the Charleston, and a dance jam after the last set in which late night revellers had more space to let loose and show off. 

Throughout the night, everyone was reminded that half of the profits would be going to the homeless charity, Emmaus Colchester. As a seeker of social justice, the issue homelessness is something I feel very strongly about, and I think the way this charity approaches its work - by giving homeless people work and lodgings, building a community and allowing them to flourish, is so vital and a really positive and progressive way of tackling the problem. With proceeds from the cocktail bar and the vintage photo booth going directly to the charity, as well as half the profits from ticket sales, I was so thrilled to be able to donate over £700 to them, and I will certainly be supporting them in the future.

 So far, The Swing Spectacular has proved to be a huge success in Colchester. Although the process of organising such an event is full of stress and doubt, especially for just one person at the beginning of their career, the joy of the night makes it all worth it. I have never enjoyed anything more, and this is a huge inspiration for me as I start my jazz singing career in London. You can be sure that The Swing Spectacular will continue at the Colchester Arts Centre, and will soon be introduced in London as well. Keep an eye out!

See all the fantastic photos from SJR Photography here, and check them out on facebook too.

21/05/16

Photo by Danielle Bather

Spring Swing Spectacular! Organised, managed by and starring myself, this sell-out event took my home town of Colchester, Essex by storm. In order to raise essential funds for my masters at the prestigious Guildhall School of Music and Drama, it seemed inevitable that I would use my love of big band singing to attempt to entertain and impress. This being my first professional event (totally separate from any educational institution) it was a tentative start, but the end product did not disappoint. What I created was a vintage themed 'Swing Spectacular' - a night of music, dancing (including an official dance lesson), and all-around glamorous entertainment.

The Arts Centre in Colchester is renowned for its rich cultural offering and recently thriving jazz scene, and this evening saw the place full to the brim with excited guests all dressed to the nines, dancing the night away to the sound of classic jazz vocals and the ever energetic and crowd-pleasing Sweeting Swing Band. At several points during the night, I showcased something I'd been working on with two of my spectacularly talented friends, Jessica Dives and Caitling Arnott: an Andrews Sisters-style vocal trio which dazzled the audience yet more. There was also a spectacular performance from London's Gatsby Girls (a trio of sequin-adorned flapper dancers) who amazed the audience with their near acrobatic Charleston moves and beaming character-ful faces.

I approached the organisation of the event with every detail in mind, wanting to make it a fully rounded entertaining experience. In one corner of the room was a vintage-inspired polaroid photo booth comprising furniture borrowed from the nearby Emmaus- a charity helping the homeless in Colchester, which received the proceeds from the photo booth. In the opposite corner was the Dotted Fox cocktail bar, a vintage themed pop-up cocktail bar, serving classic cocktails to complement the evening's entertainment perfectly.

Singers from left to right, Jessica Dives, Lydia Bell, Caitlin Arnott. Photo by Danielle Bather

Singers from left to right, Jessica Dives, Lydia Bell, Caitlin Arnott. Photo by Danielle Bather

Come the week of the event, the tickets were disappearing like mad and on the day there were people clammering to get their hands on one. I couldn't have asked for a better turnout, and selling out such a sought-after venue in Essex was a truly remarkable achievement for me, and one which propelled me into my masters with a much needed sense of pride and achievement.

The night combined vintage glamour, music, dancing and cocktails to create something really special, something which Colchester has not seen of this quality before, and something it will remember for a long time.

Fantastic photos of the night taken by Danielle Bather.