There comes an affair in the tides of men
When you can’t go back again
Yes there comes a darkness in the affairs of light
When you can’t hold back the night
So you go where your mind will keep
Where the rain plays the restless to sleep
On the notes of a broken piano
1950s papier mache apocalypse? Carnival mishap? The set of a Jan Svankmaier film? None of those.
What about a woman with a tail?
We’ve got one of those.
And an elephant, ready to dance. Some kind of elephant anyway.
And we’ve got a strange object on wheels with young women balanced on it.
What does it all mean? Well obviously, the Chelsea Arts Club Ball.
It’s a dance.
It’s a giant costume party.
Some of the costumes look good, like this couple.
Some maybe not.
(What is that man doing?)
It’s also an artistic event.
Laughing devils break out of…something.
Maybe we could get those guys out of here. We’ve had enough mishapen heads for one night.
On with the party. See, it’s in full swing now. How did Richard Nixon get in?
The climax will be spectacular…..
The party stopped in the end but for a long while the fun was endless.
I’m going to a wedding
I’m going to a wedding dressed in black
I’m going to a party
I’m going to party, won’t be back
I’m going to a funeral
I’m going to a funeral dressed in white
I’m going to a nightclub
I’m going to a nightclub to sleep with night
For quite a few years the Chelsea Arts Club, that ancient haven for artists and bohemians has kept its archive in our sub-basement. I’ve been happy to look after it. but now they have their own search room which can be visited by the serious researcher and the curious amateur alike. In remembrance of their stay with us they’ve let me use some of their pictures of the Arts Club Ball. My thanks to Stephen Bartley.
The poet Pete Brown made albums with the group Piblokto including “Things may come and things may go but the art school dance goes on forever” which I referred to in a previous post. His first band was called the Battered Ornaments and from them I got the title of this post, a phrase I have always admired. I don’t believe he ever had anything to do with the the Ball but I’ve always loved his lyrics, particularly the songs he wrote with Jack Bruce. The lyrics quoted above are from “He the Richmond” and “Weird of Hermiston” from the Jack Bruce album Songs for a Tailor.