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#1 Jan 11, 2019 4:06 pm

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Dancing through the Blitz

Britain in 1942 was a country reeling under the onslaught of Germany’s most destructive offensive of the War: the Blitz. The Luftwaffe rained a barrage of destruction upon England’s industrial heartland, with industrial cities like London, Liverpool and Manchester being prime targets. Almost every night there was a raid, or at least an air raid warning. You got so conditioned that as soon as the siren went off you dropped whatever you were doing and ran to the nearest shelter, like Pavlov’s dog.

In London the most common air raid shelters were the Underground stations, but in the northern cities there wasn’t the Underground, so that meant sheltering in the basements of municipal buildings or wherever you could find. When you emerged the following morning it was a crap-shoot as to what you would find: peace and tranquility - or utter destruction.

By far the worst, towards the end of the War, were the Doodlebugs, which could level an entire city block. These jet-propelled bombs were launched from occupied Europe and had no particular target – they could fall anywhere. So long as you heard the drone of the engine you were safe. But when it stopped…

But regardless of the depredations of the War, or perhaps because of them, Britain partied! They partied like there was no tomorrow - as indeed there may not have been. Every weekend men and women gravitated in droves to working men’s clubs and ballrooms, dancing their cares away to the latest swing tunes imported from America. Off-duty British servicemen and American GI’s flocked to these venues, intent on forgetting the horrors that awaited their return to active duty. Popular among the English ladies were the black American servicemen, expert at dances like the jitterbug and the Lindy-hop. Swing bands would come over on UK tours, including Tommy Dorsey the Glenn Miller Orchestra.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bbR8qDLAAk8

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