Artists and band want Portobello back like 'hey day' for Tea Dance

A HUGE outdoor tea dance is to make its way down the Promenade in Portobello tomorrow.

The event will feature the Leith Community Concert Band and a parade of dancers twirling along the seafront from the Old Parish Church Hall.

Members of the public are invited to join in, with a dance teacher on hand, and those who turn up in costume will earn free tea and designer cup cakes.

The dance will be the culmination of an all-day workshop called The Big Idea, where local people will work on a plan to turn the mile-long seafront into a permanent arena for public art. Both events are run by art project Big Things on the Beach.

The dance is being arranged by artists Rocca Gutteridge and Hatt Reiss.

Ms Gutteridge said: "Whilst walking along the prom, we imagined what Portobello must have been like in its hey-day.

"We wanted to create a feeling of the past with a modern twist. We can't wait to see old, young, all ages dancing together with a seaside backdrop. We have the incredible 20-piece Leith Community Concert Band to serenade everyone as they dance the afternoon away and free tea on the house for those dressed to impress."

Big Things on the Beach has run temporary art projects in Portobello for several years. This summer's commissions have included the installation of fruit machines on the beach, the creation of a giant abstract inflatable representing the spirit of Portobello, and the projection of a film of swimmers into Portobello Baths.

Now the group hopes to turn the area into a permanent haven for outdoor arts.

Chairman Damian Killeen said: "The Big Idea essentially will be that the future development of Portobello Promenade should be considered in its entirety as a work of public art, rather than being subject to a whole series of piecemeal responses to particular problems.

"We'd like to talk about the Promenade as a complete, living work of art."

He said around 3000 people had responded to consultations which, among other things, asked them to name places they'd been to which they thought could inspire the project.

The group hopes to create a plan which it can submit to the city council next month. Speakers at tomorrow's session include chief executive of Creative Scotland, Andrew Dixon, and the city's economic development convenor, Councillor Tom Buchanan.

The seminar, at the Old Parish Church Hall, Bellfield Street, begins at 10.30am, with the tea dance starting at 3.40pm. For more see www.bigthingsonthebeach.org.uk.