Worthing: Jump, Jive and Wail

By Peter Lewry


I attended The Big Jive All Dayer at the Assembly Hall in Worthing on 14 February 2015 and what a fantastic day it was. I knew we were in for a good time when I read the press release… “The Jive Aces present The Big Jive All-Dayer – 12 hours of non-stop jive, swing, R&B and R&R with an amazing line up of the UK’s most jumpin’ bands The Jive Aces, Si Cranstoun Band, The Three Belles, The Ding Dong Daddios and The Bevin Boys. DJ’s Terry Elliot, Gypsy John, GI Jive and Slick Nick and vintage stalls. There’s a huge dance floor with cabaret seating or balcony for those who prefer to sit and watch.”

Doors opened at 1pm and the first couple of hours were taken up with dance lessons, by Sussex Swing, for those wanting to learn how to jive. I passed up the opportunity but as you will see later I did get my chance to learn a few steps. This was followed by some great music provided by the DJ’s. There were actually four DJ’s working at the event – Gypsy John, Slick Nick, Terry Elliott and GI Jive, all of whom kept the music flowing between each act.

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The Bevin Boys and The Ding Dong Daddios were the first two acts to appear on the stage and treated the ever-increasing crowd to a great selection of material covering the swing, rhythm & blues and rock & roll genres. The Three Belles appeared for a couple of songs but would return for a longer set later in the day.

More music from the DJ’s followed and this gave me the opportunity to look round the stalls, grab a drink and a bite to eat.

I enjoyed watching all the dancing and there was a wide age range from youngsters to those in their late fifties and sixties, most of whom had turned up in period costume, and were a joy to watch.

Early evening and it was the turn of The Jive Aces who hit the stage dressed in yellow and blue. Together for more than a decade, they have established themselves as the UK’s top Jive & Swing band. There show is a mix of fresh arrangements of songs made famous by the likes of Louis Prima, Bobby Darin, Dean Martin, Big Joe Turner and Sammy Davis Jnr as well as originals taken from their own studio albums. One of the highlights of their set for me was their take on Mack The Knife.

The Three Belles, Betty, Gail & Dorothy, returned and are a professional 1940s vocal trio inspired by The Andrews Sisters. They can certainly sing with harmonies that blend perfectly to recreate the sounds of the 1940s and I was impressed with their vocals and stage presence. Their dresses, make-up and hair added to the glamour and authenticity of the period and brought a touch of vintage glamour to the evening. Great performances of hits from the forties and fifties included Pack Up Your Troubles and My Baby Just Cares For Me. I took the opportunity to pick up a copy of their CD, In Full Swing, and also their calendar which the girls kindly signed for me.

Having bought Si Cranstoun’s album Modern Life when it was released I was really looking forward to his performance and I was not disappointed. It was around 8.30pm and the joint was rockin’ with the dance floor full to capacity, many crowded near the stage while the rest were still dancing the night away. There are not many artists who sound better live than on record but it was certainly the case with Cranstoun. I guess years of busking has made him into the great performer that he showed this night. For just over an hour the audience were treated to a selection of his own songs and timeless classics including Coupe De Ville, Dance For Evermore, Modern Life, Gigolo, I Got A Woman, Sea Cruise and many more.

Another appearance by the Jive Aces, decked out in bright yellow suits, and more record spinning by the DJ’s brought a great evening to a close.

As I mentioned earlier I didn’t want to embarrass myself by taking part in the dance lessons earlier in the day but while backstage I had the opportunity to talk to the dance teacher Lizzy Abrahams from Sussex Swing who showed me a few moves. I was quite chuffed when she said I had good rhythm. Maybe time to take up lessons!

We were fortunate to go backstage several times during the day and met The Three Belles, Si Cranstoun and The Jive Aces who were all happy to chat and have their photos taken. A big thank-you to everybody for making it such a great day and roll on next year!