Relive The Most Outrageous Queer Party Of The 1920s At Bishopsgate Institute

By Sponsor Last edited 30 months ago
Relive The Most Outrageous Queer Party Of The 1920s At Bishopsgate Institute

This is a sponsored article on behalf of Bishopsgate Institute.

Photo credit: Almass Badat

One of the most notorious and outrageous parties ever to grace London's queer scene is returning — and you're invited.

This summer, Duckie is recreating Lady Malcolm's Servants' Ball, a notorious party on London’s queer scene in the 1920s and 30s.

Despite the organisers warning against "sex perverts and degenerates", working class LGBT Londoners flocked to the event, held annually at the Royal Albert Hall. Their surviving stories reveal the secret lives of queer folk and the interplay between gender, class, modernity and authority between the wars.

Researcher and curator E-J Scott used the remarkable collection of historical LGBT literature and artefacts at Bishopsgate Institute to inspire their recreation of the tear-up, saying: "I have relied on the political collections in the Bishopsgate Institute Archives to delve into the lives of those in domestic service in interwar London. The Bernie Grant archives have informed our discussion of cultural appropriation, and the 20s and 30s ephemera has exposed London at leisure for the working classes.

"We have been able to design a workshop weekend, archive exhibition and fancy dress balls that directly engage with neglected queer working class history from the 20s and 30s. Duckie’s recreation of Lady Malcolm Servants Balls give London’s queers a chance to reimagine what it might have been like to be a queer footman or parlourmaid in London’s grand mansions nearly a century ago.”

Photo credit: Almass Badat

Bishopsgate Institute's Great Hall, library and corridors will be packed with fortune-tellers, sideshows, dancers and honky-tonk music for two nights in June. Overseeing proceedings is Amy Lamé, who'll assume the role of flamboyant host, Lady Malcolm.

This is a unique chance to moonlight as a queer footman or parlourmaid from the London of almost a century ago.

The party coincides with London Pride Weekend, and is run by Duckie, a performance company which pays homage to the history of London's queer scene and has earned its reputation with weekly shows at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern.

Bishopsgate Institute is an apt setting for the event, given the expanse of records and collections relating to LGBT history that it houses, including the Lesbian And Gay News Media Archive.

Lady Malcolm's Servant Ball is at Bishopsgate Institute on 24 and 25 June. Tickets are £20 and must be booked in advance.

Last Updated 10 May 2016