Watch and learn: a short guide to wild fun from the England of the 80s

British photographer Dafydd Jones spent the 80s documenting various balls, receptions and university parties in all their drunken splendor. On the eve of the New Year's festivities season, we suggest that you look at the wild fun happening there and, perhaps, borrow some ideas or, on the contrary, think about the consequences in advance…

Watch and learn: a short guide to wild fun from the England of the 80s

Watch and learn: a short guide to wild fun from the England of the 80s

William Knott and Edward Hoare at a dance party at the Boodles Private Club, London, 1981. Here and further the author's comments about his pictures and what is happening on them.

The first attempts at smoking cigars during the first debutant ball, which I happened to photograph.

Watch and learn: a short guide to wild fun from the England of the 80s

A member of the Bullingdon Club who fell asleep on a bench during the May Graduation Ball at Christ Church College, Oxford, on June 26, 1981.

Watch and learn: a short guide to wild fun from the England of the 80s

Lord Newall and a Limbo dancer at a party hosted by Mrs. Yusuf Mazandi, London, May 6, 1982.

Mrs. Mazandi and her family fled from the revolution that had just taken place in Iran. I think her husband worked for the Shah. After arriving in London, she began to invite the English aristocracy to her parties in Belgravia. Her parties were much more informal and relaxed than the usual dinner parties. I remember during one of them, while everyone was dancing on the tables, Nigel Dempster shouted: "If only the Ayatollah could see us now!", causing everyone present to be silent for a moment.

Watch and learn: a short guide to wild fun from the England of the 80s

Charlotte Stockdale, circa 1985.

Watch and learn: a short guide to wild fun from the England of the 80s

Piers Gaveston's Scandalous Society Ball, 1983.

This was the last of the "Piers Gaveston" parties that I photographed. The dress code of the party was designated "The Garden of Earthly Pleasures" by Bosch.

Watch and learn: a short guide to wild fun from the England of the 80s

The Royal Military Academy Ball at Sandhurst, April 6, 1985.

Watch and learn: a short guide to wild fun from the England of the 80s

Clive Cook at a party hosted by Oliver Baxter. London, November 13, 1981.

My style of photographing a party is to try to show the most interesting moments. I knew these guys and I don't think they played especially for me. I didn't look like a professional photographer, and people didn't always notice that I was shooting. I used a small Olympus RC camera that can focus in low light. It remains a little-known classic. In fact, most of this evening was very boring. Perhaps that's why they grabbed the siphons.

Watch and learn: a short guide to wild fun from the England of the 80s

Catherine Pearson at the Hitwave Ball at the Grosvernor House Hotel, London, July 22, 1987.

Watch and learn: a short guide to wild fun from the England of the 80s

Lady Henrietta Bathurst at the Cinderella Ball. Dorchester Hotel, December 1980.

The Cinderella Ball is a charity event that raises money for children affected by violence. For the era of punk, the audience here turned out to be very ordinary. I didn't work for anyone. Dressed in a tuxedo from a second-hand store, I somehow convinced the organizers to let me in. Unlike modern events, I don't remember one other photographer there. I didn't stay long at the ball because I had to catch the last train back to Oxford.

Watch and learn: a short guide to wild fun from the England of the 80s

May Ball of New College, Oxford, June 1986.

Watch and learn: a short guide to wild fun from the England of the 80s

A debutante in a pond with lilies. Charles McDowell pushes Pop Vincent during the Martin Betts Dance Party, Ascot, July 23, 1982.

It's not a good idea to have parties by the pond. I remember drinking a glass of wine, which slowed down my reaction a little, and managed to catch this frame at the very last moment. The reeds sticking out in the middle look like huge splashes and add drama to the picture. Several other people finished the evening in this pond, including the hostess herself. Unfortunately, I missed this moment.

Watch and learn: a short guide to wild fun from the England of the 80s

Halloween ball, October 31, 1987.

Watch and learn: a short guide to wild fun from the England of the 80s

"The Burning Boat", Oriel College, Oxford, 1984.

Every year, the college that won the four-day Eights Week rowing regatta set fire to the old boat after a festive dinner. Each time I had to get there before the doors opened for outsiders. I tried to remain unnoticed until I heard loud shouts and cheering, and then the rowers appeared and the boat caught fire. For me, this picture symbolizes the 80s, the Big Bang and the Thatcher times. It also looks quite good upside down as an abstract composition.

Watch and learn: a short guide to wild fun from the England of the 80s

Celebrations after the rowing competition in Cambridge, June 1984.

Watch and learn: a short guide to wild fun from the England of the 80s

Alexander Figis-Walker dances with Sarah Fazakerley at the Trinity College Ball, Cambridge, June 15, 1981.

In June 1981, I was not working for anyone as a photographer, but I spent a week shooting the May balls in honor of the end of the academic year at Cambridge. I slept most of the day, and took pictures at night. This evening I was photographing uninvited guests trying to get into the party, and then it got dark and the security relaxed, so everyone could just pass through. The moment captured in this picture is early in the morning, so there was not much light. My camera was on a slow shutter speed. They seemed to freeze for a moment in this wonderful position.

Watch and learn: a short guide to wild fun from the England of the 80s

Blizzard Ball at the Grosvernor House Hotel, London, January 7, 1986.

Watch and learn: a short guide to wild fun from the England of the 80s

Charity Feather Ball at Hammersmith Palais, London, December 1981.

This photo shows very reliably what happened at these youth balls. Recently, she participated in an exhibition organized by Tatler magazine. At the opening of the exhibition there was a woman who was happy to recognize herself in the picture by her tights and an earring.

Watch and learn: a short guide to wild fun from the England of the 80s

Hammersmith, circa 1985.

Watch and learn: a short guide to wild fun from the England of the 80s

Dancing in the pond at the wedding of Ari Campbell-McNair-Wilson and Nick Ashley, Hampshire, 1984.

This is what happens if you arrange wedding ceremonies on the shore of a pond.

Watch and learn: a short guide to wild fun from the England of the 80s

Tamara Beckwith at the Hitwave Ball, Grosvernor House Hotel, London, July 16, 1986.

Watch and learn: a short guide to wild fun from the England of the 80s

Fallen asleep at a party, London, 1985.

Watch and learn: a short guide to wild fun from the England of the 80s

Natasha and Benjamin Fraser leave at dawn from a party organized by John Aspinall in Port Lympne, 1981.

Keywords: 80s | England | Ball | Fun | Parties | Cambridge | Oxford

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