Cambridge University Library

In the spotlight

Extra-curricular Cambridge

Tea dance

CU Dance Club band at a gig outside Cambridge; but where? (See full image)

Among recent additions to the University Archives are several photographs of Cambridge University Dance Club band, 1929–31 (UA Phot.192-6), given by Jennifer de St Georges, daughter of William Grant Cryer, of Trinity College, band saxophonist.

Band at a tea dance

The band entertain hotel guests at a tea dance. (See larger image)

The photographs include a couple of charmingly informal shots of the band performing outside Cambridge, at a seaside hotel, entertaining guests at a summer tea dance. Another shows the band at the Rendezvous on Hertford Street, a Cambridge dance hall and cinema, during one of the regular ‘Long Nights’, when licensing laws were relaxed to allow dancing into the small hours. In the otherwise overwhelmingly male environment of the University, dances provided an ideal opportunity for the sexes to mingle. Modern dance music was regularly reviewed  - maybe including A bench in the park, just visible on the hotel music stands in the larger image - in a popular, light-hearted, student publication, The Cambridge gownsman. Advertisements for dances and dance lessons also featured largely, including at the Rendezvous where “Tea, pictures and dancing daily” were on offer for 1/3 (1 shilling and 3 pence).

Band at the Rendezvous

The band ready for a evening performance, a 'Long Night', at the Rendezvous in Cambridge. (See full image)

Material of this kind is colourful testimony to the vitality of student life outside the laboratory and library. Whatever the interest, from politics to panto, there is a strong chance it will have been embodied in a University club at some time. And to the delight of researchers, the records of more than hundred such groups, dating from the eighteenth century to the present day, are lodged in the University Archives. Cultural historians consult the records to explore the history of sociability, for instance, or notions of masculinity or radicalism; biographers often want specific details of events and individuals. To help researchers plan their visits in advance, catalogues of the records are published on Janus, the internet resource for Cambridge archives (

But to get back to the Dance Club band, if you can identify the location of the tea dance, please let us know. If you are involved in a University club or society and wish to investigate transferring records to the University Archives, again please get in touch.

Jacky Cox
Cambridge University Archives


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