London Village – Social Whirlwind of the 1970’s

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WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT?
If you were in your 20’s in the 1970’s, lived in London and were looking for a way to meet new people, friends, lovers, then you may well have been part of the vibrant social network called London Village (LV). It worked like this: People paid to join, about 10 pounds a year, then you had the option to organize a social event or go along to events other members organized. The event could be as simple as a pub evening get together or as elaborate as a river boat disco party along the Thames. You mailed in the event details (yes, via regular Royal Mail snail mail) to the LV HQ. Your event details were listed in the monthly magazine which was mailed out to members. Sounds quaint by today’s flash-mob event, details of which are Tweeted less than an hour before. But did LV work in the pre-smartphone, pre-text-messgae dark ages?  Did it ever!

I was 19 when I joined up, and to say the decision changed my life would be an understatement. Late-teens and 20’s are vital and formative years in one’s life. The experiences you have, and importantly, the people you meet, impact your life in profound ways, often for the rest of your life. (How I ended up living in the United States for a period of time was a direct result of going to a London Village party, but more on that in a later post.) I dare say many other members could share life altering tales from the events they trekked to or people they encountered. I’d love to hear about them if you’d care to share them.

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A SUCKER FOR THE ADVERTS
I learned of LV through some cool and creative ad’s that ran in Time Out magazine. The tag line of the best one (IMO) was: Even the Dustman Noticed the Difference! The page was split down the middle with pictures of dustbins (garbage cans for non-UK readers) overflowing with all the usual stuff. On the left, before LV, we see solo TV dinner boxes by the dozen, cans of diet soda with sticky contents dribbling down the side of the bin, the remains of a packet of sliced bread and a half dozen drooping daffodils. The bin on the right, LV experience in full tilt, was overflowing with uncorked bottles of Moet and Chandon champagne and chateau Bordeaux wine, a Harrod’s food hall carrier bag with opened, empty cans (precise contents unknown but the point is made) and a perky single rose adorning the collection of weekend toss outs. They had me at the Moet and Chandon. (Speaking of champagne and LV: See the blog: Champagne, Cindy and One Pound at the Door.)

NOT YOU, YOU
There was a bit of member vetting but it wasn’t a huge deal. I went along to the Grosvenor Hotel at Victoria station, listened to a short presentation, then small breakout groups chatted with existing members. I was in on the first round. Afterwards everyone adjourned to the Shakespeare pub across from the station. (Still there.) The process was pretty easy and it struck me this was a good way to meet women new to London or were looking to extend their social circle. So, I volunteered as the breakout group moderator a few times. I don’t recall anyone I met from the breakouts, but I started to jot down the names of people I met and a short description, so I could greet them by name if I saw them again. Not so much a little black book, but a name reminder: Sammy: ex-army, short ginger hair, tennis man. Theresa: waist length hair, freckles, into goblins and spirit life things.

The real fun began with the arrival of the first magazine in the post. This was a huge deal. My social schedule for the next month was in those pages, and it was crammed. Something everyday and multiple events per day if you had the energy, and I did.

MY SWINGING 60’s
The next few years were my Swinging 60’s. Breathtaking times of wonderful discovery. Days and years of meeting new people and exploring fresh neighborhoods of London. Astonishing times, and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

Keith Howard

Comments are welcome below.
Email: lvrevisited@hotmail.com

If you were in the LV circle in the 1970’s, I would love to hear your memories and post them for others to enjoy.

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