FESTIVAL OF CHICHESTER: Dawn Gracie goes vintage


Chichester’s Dawn Gracie is delighted to be one of the ever-presents at this year’s Festival of Chichester.

After taking part in the first two years, she is now back for the third – and fully committed to the cause.

“I have been part of the entertainment scene for nearly ten years now, and when the new festival rose from the ashes of the last one, it really seemed like a good opportunity for me to be involved. Let’s not beat about the bush. It’s a great marketing opportunity. Much as I would like to say it warms my heart to take part, it is a really good PR vehicle for what I do – though of course it’s also great to be supporting the festival!

“In the first year, I tested my Dawn’s Vintage Do night in a restaurant. And I have also used Bracklesham Barn which is a smallish venue. This year I have decided to bite the bullet, so I have doubled the capacity and doubled the size of the venue and gone for Westbourne House School.”

As a result, Dawn is promising a bigger and better show than ever when she takes her Dawn’s Vintage Do there on July 11: “The format is that you can arrive at 6.30pm, and it will be a lovely evening. You can enjoy food, ice cream, cocktails and so on, and there will be a stylised stage with dance tuition. Here we will be teaching you strolling and jiving. Last year we packed the place to the rafters.”

Under the title All Shook Up, it will offer an evening of vintage music from the 50s and 60s with Dawn as your host: “We will have seating around the edge to attract people who just want to watch, but if you want to, you can have tuition. You can eat, drink, mingle, sit down or dance.”

The idea is that it will take you – and Dawn – back to the era she believes she really ought to have been born into.

“I would have loved to have been 18 in 1958 – even if that would make me 75 now! That was the year for all my favourite music. All the artists and all the songs were fantastic that year. Coming out of the 40s which had been repressive, with the war and the rationing and everything, the 50s were the era when teenagers started making their own decisions about music. In the 40s, it would have been the adults deciding, but really the 50s was the era of liberation, a time of huge change when everything was moving on, when all these huge artists were coming in and shaking everything up.”

This is exactly the moment Dawn believes she would have felt most at home.

“I would have been back then exactly as I am now, which would have been absolutely scandalous. I would just have been embracing it all, the music, the culture, everything. And that’s what I am wanting to recreate. I am having my own mini-revival!

“Some people might say it is my mid-life crisis, but it has been going on for years with me!”

Dawn is also fundraising for St Wilfrid’s Hospice this year. To promote the show and to raise funds for her chosen charity, Dawn is looking to do something totally unique in the city. Plans are afoot to embark upon an ‘office tour’ whereby a company can pledge money for a visit to their place of work. Dawn will then serenade them with her 50s and 60s classics and with her interactive and sassy style...

More details on www.dawnsvintagedo.com.

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