Afternoon Tea Dancing in the Streets

Fairmont Palliser is celebrating its centennial with baked goods and swing dancing on 9th Avenue


Vintage postcard image courtesy of Fairmont PalliserType image description here.

This Sunday, the castle-like hotel is hosting a party that will literally stop traffic along 9 Avenue S.W.

The Fairmont Palliser’s Centennial Afternoon Tea Dance takes place Sunday, June 15 between 2 and 4 p.m.

There will be big bands and swing dancing in the street. Pastries will be given out and tea will be served. It’s an ode to the glory days of the Palliser’s afternoon tea dances. The mid-afternoon parties are a product of the Victorian era that carried through the early 20th century when live orchestras would play and well-dressed guests would dance and snack into the early evening.

Tea dances were a way to cut costs – buffet-style afternoon parties with tea was much less expensive than a sit-down supper. The Fairmont Palliser did hold supper dances including the Cowboy Ball, held during the first week of the Calgary Stampede between 1924 and 1939, which was so popular that dancers overflowed the lobby onto the street.

This weekend, it’s our chance to wear our Sunday best (or really step it up and wear what would have been Sunday best in the 1920s and ’30s), grab a slice of cake and dance in the street. Summit Big Band is providing the music and Toe Tappin’ Swing will get the dancing started.

If you aren’t familiar with the Fairmont Palliser’s place in Calgary history, here are a few relevant facts:

  • It has hosted every prime minister since Robert Borden and was the home of R.B. Bennett during the time he was prime minister.
  • It has beer license No. 1, because it was the first bar to be licensed after prohibition ended in 1924.
  • During prohibition, partygoers and guests had flasks in their pockets and purses, and mixed their own drinks at the table.
  • The Palliser also opened the first cocktail lounge in the province in 1958.

All of those are reasons to celebrate and swing dance in the street.

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