Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Death by Dancing: New Cross (1940) and Bermondsey (1903)

A couple of tragic tales of death by dancing, hopefully those going out on New Year's Eve can avoid such dangers.  The first relates to the New Cross Palais de Danse - still going today as the Venue in New Cross Road - the second occured at a Christmas party in Bermondsey.

'Witness 'jitterbugs' at inquest on girl who fell' - Manchester Evening News, Friday 24 May 1940:

Giving evidence at an inquest at Lewisham to-day, a young man stepped from the witness-box to give an exhibition of the “jitterbug dance” to the coroner, Dr. W. H. Whitehouse. A verdict of accidental death was recorded on Virginia Guidotti (19), Wickham Road, Brockley, London, who died in hospital. She had fallen while dancing the “jitterbug,” at New Cross Palais de Danse. Henry George Cox, of Park Hill Road. Deptford, said they danced the “jitterbug,” in which he explained they did “ all kinds of fantastic and funny things.” He then stepped on to the coroner’s bench and, locking his hands, went through various movements of the dance. At one stage, he said, the girl fell backwards on the floor and he fell on her.

The Coroner: It is peculiar. It sounds to me very vulgar.

Cox said that after the fall he suggested that the girl should have a glass of water and she said that she would be all right. Evidence was given that the management of the Palais de Danse had made efforts to stop the dance being performed.

'The Fatal Thirteen - Death from excessive dancing'-  South London Press, 3 January 1903:

Dr Waldo held an inquest at the Southwark Coroner's Court on Wednesday on the body of Mary Ann Cocklin, aged 35 years, the wife of a Bermondsey labourer. John Cocklin, the husband, stated that he and the deceased went to a Christmas party at the house of a relative on Christmas Day, and kept on dancing until after midnight. Deceased then lay down to rest, but awoke in a fright, screaming that three men were after her.

Dr Waldo: Had she been drinking any spirits?

Witness: No, sir, only port wine. We had nothing but port wine, any of us.

Dr Waldo: What happened when she came to herself again?

Witness: She went down stairs and resumed dancing to the music of an automated piano organ we had in the house. I next heard she was very ill, and that she had again gone to rest, but had turned giddy and fallen down the stairs.

Dr Waldo: How many?

Witness: The fatal 13.

Susan Poore, a neighbour, stated that she heard the deceased fall. She was taken to Guys Hospital, where she died the same day. The medical evidence showed that death was due to fracture of the thigh caused by the fall, which was the result of giddiness produced by dancing. A verdict was returned accordingly'.

No comments: