Hepcats turn clock back 70 years as Zoot Suits ‘rip it up’ in Poplar market

It was the 1940s all over again at Poplar's Swing East festival

It was the 1940s all over again at Poplar's Swing East festival - Credit: Poplar Harca

The clocks were turned back 70 years when the post-war Swing era of the 1940s jived its way back to London’s East End for a Sunday shindig.

Natty Congeroo on stage at Swing East festival in Poplar

Natty Congeroo on stage at Swing East festival in Poplar - Credit: Poplar Harca

The Swing East festival attracted 2,000 hepcats in their gladrags yesterday to Poplar’s Chrisp Street Market.

There were guys in zoot suits and gals in flared cotton dresses with stockings, all jiving and jitterbugging to Big Band swing.

The 1940s Blues and Swing and 1950s Rock’n’Roll was staged in the market square on Sunday by Poplar Harca Housing organisation with live music, dancing, vintage cars and a vintage street market.

Poplar's Chrisp Street Market turns clock back seven decades for Swing

Poplar's Chrisp Street Market turns clock back seven decades for Swing - Credit: Poplar Harca

The market square was transformed into a 1950s’ dance hall with dance lessons from Shag Pile and music from Natty Congeroo & The Flames of Rhythm, Sugar Ray’s Lucky Stripes and Ding Dong Daddio’s.


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Hot vinyl disc-jockey Nel Raiser kept the pace going and the joint swinging in between the live acts—there was no rest for the wicked 40s.

Market stalls sold vintage and retro clothes, accessories, music and homeware, along with 1940s cocktails and real ales.

Cool Hepcat looks like grand-daddio did in the 1940s Swing era

Cool Hepcat looks like grand-daddio did in the 1940s Swing era - Credit: Poplar Harca

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Swing East gives a nod to the marketplace itself, created in 1951 at the height of the Swing movement, built as a ‘living architecture’ element of the Festival of Britain as the country’s first pedestrian shopping precinct of its kind.

But it was the music the hepcats came for—a shindig your Jiving Granny would be well proud of.

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