JAZZ IN PRESTON

Jazz would have appeared for the first time in and around the time of the ending of World War One. Ragtime had been presented as a variety act before the war, "The Ragtime Three" at the Empire on 25th May 1914, but it was in : 1919 that "The U.S.A. and European Combine Ltd. presented the Big Circus on Strand Road. Six days from Monday the 16th June. With two rings, beasts, daylight Kinema, the Anglo-American Massed Band and a REAL JAZZ BAND." As the circus included Fred Connor late of the Blackpool Tower Circus and "Ohmy", assisted by his father who used to have buildings in Preston, perhaps it was more Anglo than American.

 Instruction in the art of "Jazz Dancing" could be had from a number of dance schools and at the barracks at Fulwood the "Royal Artillery Jazz, the last dance of the season", (i.e. before Lent) was advertised in March. This new style dancing alarmed the clergy and others and a number of protesting letters were published in the press. The teachers of the new dances, in particular the Misses Thornley of Cannon Street, took no heed of the protests and introduced Tea Dances at The Bull and Royal in May with a Jazz Band under the direction of Mr. Hayley, (I always suspected Rock and Roll came from Lancashire originally!) 

 

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