Gillian Smith pays homage to the Roaring Twenties – past and present – as featured in the My Soho Times Spring ’22 edition which coincided with our 2nd anniversary party on Tuesday 22nd February…
Welcome to the new roaring twenties!
I think it’s safe to say the 2020s are perforce off to a bit of a slow start. We all need a period of rest and recuperation as one decade segues into the next, but two whole years of a pandemic was for sure not what anyone expected. So, what’s next for the city as we emerge blinking into the daylight?
Here at My Soho Times we reckon we could do a lot worse than winding back a century and taking our cue from the perennially roaring 1920s – which coincidentally also kicked off a couple of years late, post-war and post pandemic. It’s a decade that never quite seems to vanish into the annals of history. And why should it? A lot happened.
In many ways, then as now, it was all about the tech. Burgeoning industrial development introduced telephones, electrical appliances, cars, radio and moving pictures to the mass market and consumer demand rocketed. For a brief shining moment (brushing past the crash of ’29) everything was about potential… and with possibility of course, comes partying.
Enter the Jazz Age, bookmarked in popular imagination by the arts, fashion, night clubs and (initially silent) movies – much of it with a distinctly American flavour. Hems went up and inhibitions went down. Flappers flapped and speakeasies were drained of hooch. Its reputation as a defining era can’t be overstated though. Art Deco… a lingering love. And the music! 100 years on and we’re still listening to Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Bessie Smith and Bix Beiderbecke, to name really only a very few.
Evoking the spirit of the age means quite naturally turning to the works of F. Scott Fitzgerald Ernest Hemingway and Dorothy Parker- but over on this side of the pond we were pretty well served by the Bright Young Things of Noel Coward, P.G Wodehouse and Agatha Christie.
So, what do today’s bright young (and not so young) things have in mind to stamp their mark on our own twenties? Key words seem to be regeneration, renewal… and re-scheduling!
With the pandemic having temporarily killed off live performance, we have ground to make up for lost time! What began as glimmers of hope at the end of last year are turning into the fully-fledged floodlights of sold-out venues and packed pubs and restaurants – at least some of the time. As we inch away from live-streaming and hurtle happily hopeful back towards real-time, in-person, human to human experience, it’s a great feeling.
Just to get a tad tangential, if you’re into time-traveling back another century, the 1820s (last full decade of the mad, bad and dangerous to know Georgians) was when London became the largest city in the world. The 1720s came up with the idea of vampires (it was all about the overstuffed graveyards unsurprisingly) so I don’t think we’ll linger there.
Rewinding even further, the 1620s saw the departure of the Mayflower to the New World and all sorts of early parliamentary shenanigans with the accession of the doomed Charles I.
Are we seeing a pattern here?
Is the third decade of any given century one to be reckoned with? It’s an interesting thought.
But back to right here, right now. Let’s roll up our sleeves and get this party started. If we get it right we could be wielding as much influence over the 2120s as the 1920s have on us. Not to say there aren’t challenges ahead but there’s clearly no time to lose. Charge your glasses and prepare to get yourselves out there…
Here’s to the new Roaring Twenty Twenties!
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This article was originally published in the Spring issue of My Soho Times. Pick up a free copy on your next visit into Soho – or read it online CLICK HERE!
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