Ronnie’s and Romance
An evening at Ronnie Scott’s is an evening quite unlike any other. When you walk in, it’s dark, lit by soft red table lamps and it feels like you’ve stepped inside a hive of tipsy, romantic bees. Waiters dart around the place delivering cocktails and dinner like it’s been choreographed, cutlery clinks on plates and red wine is poured generously like laughter whilst conversation hums out from every nook and cranny.
Sat at a bench table on the left hand side, alongside my Mum and Dad, I had a clear view of the entire place. You could have imagined the cigarette smoke and the meandering music intertwining like lazy late-night lovers when Ronnie’s first opened. We ordered cocktails and a good merlot and just as the first band began, crowded onto a stage not much bigger than a stamp, an entire family entered, Mum, Dad, Aunts and Uncles, Sons-in –law and most amusingly, two twentysomething girls who looked like Topshop had eaten them for breakfast and then puked them up. While the Dads ordered champagne, the wives rattled their jewellery and the Chumpy Sisters looked like bored, caged birds. With their perfectly acrylic-ed talons they tapped away at iPhones, occasionally brushing a highlighted fringe out of their eyes and sighing a deep sigh, seemingly undisturbed and unconcerned by the brilliant band who’d started to glow under the lights, every jazz tinged chonk at the piano guiding the entire band like a finely oiled machine. Swiss Family Chump didn’t really get the ambiance of Ronnie’s.
The young couple in front of us however, did get it. Smitten without being smug they made me smile wide. They wriggled into the bench sharing a bottle of wine- him all polo-necked and ginger curls, she with a beautifully coiffed bob and peplum top- he clearly the jazz lover, she the keen and understanding girlfriend. They chuckled at in-jokes, and snapped each other’s pictures as the band played on. Along the walls, black and white photographs of old jazz greats looked down on them, as they sat softened by the hazy red light, nodding their heads to the throb of the double bass as the wine gently shook in time in their glasses. Dizzy, Duke and Louis, you would have approved.
As the night danced on, and the trumpet sang a breaking heart ballad with the trombone, the man and wife sat next to the young couple noticed their lovely innocence, smiled to each other and whispered in each others ears. They recognised their young selves, and so too did my parents who I watched whilst they watched them. Clearly Love does not get old like we do, it just grows up, matures wonderfully like the merlot in the glasses and discovers itself anew in familiar places. Observing the scene, I felt myself ache with happy envy. True, I didn’t have a polo-necked musician to lean into, but she did, and one day, she’d be me. Or I’d be her. Though probably with not as good hair as her. But, anyway, in the meantime, I can also report that Ronnie’s makes a damn good martini. Bottoms up Jazzers.
@katie_brennan writing about
Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club
47 Frith St Soho, London, W1D 4HT
020 7439 0747