Hi. It's Rowena, owner and founder of Revival Retro. As part of the ten year anniversary celebrations I thought I would share with you a little about what led me set up this small business. So, here's how it all began..
In 2005 I was living in Melbourne. I had been working in Australia for a year and was making ready to return to the UK.
My current employer had offered me a position in their London office and as a last hurrah with my Melbourne colleagues we had planned a Sunday afternoon pub crawl for my leaving do.
As we wound our way through Fitzroy in the late afternoon sun, we passed a night club - one I had never been to as it’s not really my scene - when a weird thing happened. Emanating through the doors was a kind of music that I would absolutely not have expected to hear at The Black Cat. I was intrigued and convinced my friends to pop our heads in.
Inside it was a different world, like being transported back in time. Everyone was dressed to the nines in 1940s clothes, there was a Big Band playing live and the dance floor was filled with people dancing with partners.
I was amazed – this was my kind of thing and I wanted to get involved! Why was this my leaving party? Why was I moving to the other side of the world when I had just found my place, my people, my passion? I had to find out if this kind of thing happened in London. The chance to dress up and dance to this fantastic music seemed utterly beguiling.
Within a couple of months I had signed up to classes and by that December I was attending my first big night out with music and competitions and inspiring performances. It was amazing to watch from the sidelines, but I very much wanted to be a part of it all.
When I moved to London it was the first time I had ever lived in a big city. I was attracted to the bright lights and fast pace but in my head I saw it as a temporary move. I considered myself to be a small-town girl looking for an adventure. I believed that adventure would run its course over 2-3 years, after which time I would return to what I know best: not the countryside but not far from it.
Swing dancing was not only an exciting prospect, it was also an opportunity to become less anonymous in this big city: to meet people, share an enthusiasm and make friends.
Like many before me, I became a bit addicted and attended regular lessons to improve. The attachment is not to technique and style, it’s to a group of people with whom you already know you have something in common. Barriers are broken and regular new introductions are made as this is a partner dance, requiring that you actively socialise and have a physical conversation in dance, if not a verbal one, with the person in front of you.
I love music of all kinds but exploring swing music through dance was a total pleasure. Once you’ve grasped the basic technique, you can add your own expression of what you’re listening to in the dance. This isn’t just a personal joy; it’s communicated to the person you are dancing with and resonates with the people around you as you move.
Swing dancing was a wonderful way to get to know London too, travelling all over the city to different classes enabled me to learn more about the transport network and become more confident. I attended events in some beautiful old buildings, some of which I might never have seen otherwise. I made friends and we explored the sights, made plans to hang out in different neighbourhoods and ventured further afield than our normal work commutes.
I look back fondly on my swing dancing days. I haven’t (officially) given them up but it is certainly some years since I hit the dancefloor. I’m very lucky that my love for swing dancing led to the creation of my company.
Starting out as a ‘hobbypreneur’, Revival Retro was born out of this passion of mine for swing dancing. If you’ve read between the lines you’ll know this is actually a passion for people. A passion for sharing something special, expressing who you are and what you enjoy. A passion for finding confidence and being able to recommend something you love to someone else who might enjoy it.