A riverboat shuffle
Will McBride, River boat shuffle, 1959
Chris Watford, London, 1955; (…)
‘We played at the London Jazz Club every Monday and Saturday to an average of seven or eight hundred dancers and listeners. And, when summer came, the club organisers, Stan and Bert Wilcox, chartered a steamer and sent us off with a boat-load of fans down the river to Chertsey.
These Riverboat Shuffles, as they were called after Hoagy Carmichael’s tune of that name, had become a tradition in London jazz since the Hot Club of London days. Jazz fans, critics and musicians piled on board one of the little Thames steamers and sailed off for the day with instruments blaring and dancers pounding the deck. Whenever the boat stopped in a lock, everybody spilled ashore, and startled passers-by enjoying a quiet Sunday walk along the towpath suddenly found themselves in the middle of scores of prancing couples in vivid tartan shirts and jeans. At Chertsey there was picnicking and bathing, and then the boat sailed back to Westminster Pier or Richmond and discharged its weary, sunburnt cargo ashore.’