Apart from the Barney case , “The Blue Angel” (52 Dean Street) doesn’t appear to feature in any reminiscences or reports of the period. It seems so close in atmosphere to the Blue Lantern (Ham Yard) that I initially assumed the former was a fictitious version of the latter. However, they were definitely two real and separate places. They shared much of the same membership, Hugh Wade was the resident pianist at both clubs and every recorded statement about the “Blue Lantern” is applicable to the “Blue Angel”.
Jocelyn Brooke on the “Blue Lantern”
“Hugh Wade, the pianist, accompanied by drums and a saxophone, was discoursing the half-forgotten, nostalgic tunes of the first war period; the dance-floor was crowded with painted and twittering young men whose partners, though technically of the females sex (for the lantern was rather fussy about such conventions), appeared for the most part to be a good deal more virile than their cavaliers.”
Here, one can’t help thinking of Ruth Baldwin or Heather Pilkington dancing with Eddie Gathorne-Hardy or Hugh Wade himself.
My guess is that “The Blue Angel” was a fairly short lived affair. It was modelled on the success of “The Blue Lantern” – louche but with a certain Bohemian air – perhaps it was slightly more overtly “gay” but essentially attracted the same crowd. All the Barney set with membership had taken up their subscriptions fairly recently (early in 1932) and by 1934 the same space had become “The Ace of Clubs”, a place where the braver West End socialites rubbed shoulders with East End villains.
52 Dean Street is today, depressingly, a Subway sandwich bar. However for many years it was the home of Casa Pepe , the first authentic Spanish restaurant in London (c1939-1969). Better still, the actual club space has been, from 1966 onward, the home of Gerry’s, considered by many to be the last “real” Soho drinking club, Named after the owner, Gerald Campion, who some will remember as Billy Bunter in the early days of television (1955-1961), Gerry’s was/is the last port of call for drunken Sohemians.
Just before the smoking ban a remarkable series of photos was taken which captures the place in its full sleaziness/glory.
I can’t see Arthur Jeffress or Brian Howard approving but it certainly would appeal to Elvira’s “nostalgia de la boue”. It does also seem to be a long way from Francesco Bartolozzi , the engraver who lived at 52 in the late C18th.
But, then again, perhaps not.