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Celebrating the 75th anniversary of VE Day

Friday 8 May 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day, or VE Day, when the Second World War came to an end in Europe. The Second World War was still being fought in many parts of the world including in Asia but people still saw VE Day as a momentous event to celebrate.

75 years on, and although many of us are staying safe and self-isolating at home, this doesn’t mean the party has to stop. We can still celebrate this special anniversary together at home with IWM’s Family Mission: VE Day House Party! Your Family Mission this week is to swing into the VE Day Bank Holiday and (house) party like it’s 1945.

Mission Briefing

Part of the Family Mission series created during the UK lockdown in Spring 2020. CBBC Presenter Ben Shires is setting your mission with the help of our friends over at Jitterbug Jive:

Hi there, I'm Ben Shires and I’m a TV presenter. Although, as you can probably tell, I'm not in a TV studio today. I'm actually at my home. In fact, this is my kitchen and yeah, I'm really glad I gave a tidy up first.  Now, today is a very special day as today marks the 75th anniversary of VE Day. Hands up who knows what that means! Well, the VE Day stands for Victory in Europe day.  

When the Second World War came to an end in Europe, the war was still being fought in many other parts of the world, including in Asia, but people still felt that VE Day was a momentous occasion worth celebrating. The Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, declared a public holiday on the 8th of May 1945 to celebrate the German surrender bringing to an end almost 6 years of war. Millions of people rejoiced marking the occasion with street parties, singing and dancing. The VE Day celebrations continued well into the night with people across the country coming together lighting bonfires and dancing in the street. 

75 years later and we’re staying safe but that doesn't mean the party has to be cancelled - far from it! We can all still come together and mark this momentous anniversary with the Imperial War Museums family party challenge! [Ben dances] Mm yeah, don't worry this may be a dance challenge but you don't have to copy any of my moves. Our friends over at Jitterbug Jive have put together a special dance tutorial video and you can find that over on our YouTube channel. You can get there even quicker by clicking on the link below this post and please do remember that whilst Imperial War Museums' doors are closed, we still want to hear from you guys. So please show us your skills in the thread or the comments below by posting a snapshot or a video of some of your dance moves - we'd love to see them and let us know how you’ll be celebrating VE Day 75 - can't wait to hear it. For now though... Keep dancing! 

Need some inspiration? Our friends over at Jitterbug Jive are going to show you some vintage dance moves to celebrate in style:

Learn the Charleston Stroll

[Linda] Hi, I'm Linda from Jitterbug Jive. Jitterbug Jive is a Lindy Hop dance troupe. We've been asked by the Imperial War Museum to teach you how to dance because today is the 8th of May and we are all going to have a party just like it's 1945. So, 75 years ago today it was VE Day which stands for ‘Victory in Europe’ and everybody was so happy they were out dancing in the streets and partying all afternoon and all evening. So, hopefully that's what you're going to be doing and you'll be able to dance the jitterbug and we incorporated some Charleston stroll and that's what we're going to teach you to dance.  

So, we're going to wave it with one hand, we're going to wave with the other hand, and then we're going to wave with both hands together and that's called jazz hands. Let's see everybody really waving. So, even if you don't want to join in the dancing today, please stay with us and just do the jazz hands. Once we've learnt the steps, we’ll also incorporate our jazz hands because it's much more fun.  

All right I'm going to turn my back on you because that will make it easier for you to follow because we all do the same footwork. So, let's all put our weight onto our left foot. With your right foot all we do is we make a half circle going forward. Bring it back to just behind you and then put your weight now onto that right foot.  

Well done everybody! 

With your left foot we do a half circle going backwards. Bring that foot forwards again and then put your weight onto that left. How was that? Hopefully okay. Let's have one more practice of that. Put your weight on your left foot. With your right foot we do a half circle going forward, bring it back to just behind you. Place your weight onto that right foot. With your left foot we do a half circle going just behind you. Bring it forward again. Put your weight onto that left foot again.  

Well done! I think everybody's doing really well and now we're actually going to do that twice. So, let's give it a go we're going to do it twice through and as dancers we start after the count of eight.  

So, I’ll count you all in so hopefully everybody's ready. Put your weight on that left foot. Here we go! 

Five, six, seven, eight. We go forward and then back with your left foot, back and then forward. Let's do that again. Forward and back, back and forward. Give yourselves a round applause. Well done everybody!  

Now, I think that's going well so we're now going to do that again but at the end of that we'll freeze and stop at the end and then I'll add on some more steps. So, here we go I’ll turn around again. So, we're going to do that twice through and then freeze and stop at the end. 

Five, six, seven, eight. With your right foot forward and back, back and forward. Again! Forward and back, back and forward. Freeze or just stop where you are there. Everybody's weight hopefully is on your left foot. With your right foot now – really easy – we just simply go tap, tap. Then we're going to head off to our left going: one, two, three and we end up now on your right foot.  

Let's do that little bit again.  

So, you've finished the forwards and backs and the forwards and backs. We ended up on our left foot. With your right foot we go tap, tap. Then we're going to head to our left going: right, left, right.  

Okay, let's see if we can do everything from the beginning. Here we go then, and then we'll stop at the end.  

Here we go! Five, six, seven, eight. Forward and back, back and forwards. Again! Forward and back, back and forward. Right foot: tap, tap, one two three.  

Oh, give yourselves a round of applause! Well done!  

We’re almost there. We’ll do that again, get to that point and then we'll add on some more steps and you'll be pleased to know it's the final set of steps.  

Okay, here we go then from the top, from the very beginning. Put your weight on that left foot. Five, six, seven, eight.  

Let's go! Forward and back, back and forward. Again! Forward and back, back and forward. Right foot: tap, tap, one, two, three. 

Well done everybody! So, your weight is now on that right foot. So, all we now need to do with our left foot, let's go one, two, turn, and we should all be facing sideways. Okay, let's see if we can do that all the way through to that point. Altogether then put your weight onto that left foot. 

Five, six, seven, eight. Forward and back, back and forward. Again! Forward and back, back and forward. Right foot: tap, tap, one, two, three. Left foot: tap, tap, one, two, turn. 

Well done! Now if we can all stay in this position because we're going to do it all again facing this direction. Then when we get to the end, we should find that we're facing to your right again. Facing the wall behind you or to the side view right now and I'm going to carry on all the way around in different directions.  

So here we go. Let's give it a go. Put your weight on that left foot we're going to keep going. Five, six, seven, eight. Forward and back, back and forward. Again! Forward and back, back and forward. Right foot: tap, tap, one, two, three. Tap, tap, one, two, turn away from me. Forward and back, back and forward. Again! Forward and back, back and forward. Right foot: tap, tap, one, two, three. Tap, tap, one, two, turn. And forward and back and back and forward. Forward and back and back and forward. Tap, tap, one, two, three. Tap, tap, one to turn. And forward and back and back and forward. Forward and back and back and forward. Tap, tap, one, two, three. Tap, tap, one, two, turn. And forward and back and back and forward. Forward and back and back and forward. Tap, tap, one, two, three. 

Give yourselves a clap! Woohoo! Well done everybody.  

Now, we're going to dance together to music.  The piece of music that were using is called Sing, Sing, Sing and it's performed by a fantastic group called The Debonaires and we've got a live version of it as they performed at Duxford. So, we've actually danced to them playing this very track at Duxford. So, here's Sing, Sing, Sing with The Debonaires. I'm going to turn my back on you. It's quite fast so don't forget those jazz hands. Put your weight on that left foot and let's get ready to party!  

Let's do some jazz hands... get ready put your weight on that left foot. 

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight. Forward, back, forward, back. Right foot: tap, tap, one two, three. Tap, tap, one, two, turn.  

Forward, back, forward, back. Right foot: tap, tap, one two, three. Tap, tap, one, two, turn.  

Forward, back, forward, back. Right foot: tap, tap, one two, three. Tap, tap, one, two, turn. 

Forward, back, forward, back. Right foot: tap, tap, one two, three. Tap, tap, one, two, turn.  

Forward, back, well done! Forward, back. Right foot: tap, tap, one two, three. Tap, tap, one, two, turn. 

Forward, back, forward, back. Right foot: tap, tap, one two, three. Tap, tap, one, two, turn. 

Forward, back, forward, back. Right foot: tap, tap, one two, three. Tap, tap, one, two, turn. 

Forward, back, forward, back. Right foot: tap, tap, one two, three. Tap, tap, one, two, turn. 

Forward, back, forward, back. Right foot: tap, tap, one two, three. Tap, tap, one, two, turn. 

Forward, back, forward, back. Right foot: tap, tap, one two, three. Tap, tap, one, two, turn. 

Forward, back, forward, back. Right foot: tap, tap, one two, three. Tap, tap, one, two, turn. 

Forward, back, forward, back. Right foot: tap, tap, one two, three. Tap, tap, one, two, turn. 

Forward, back. Again! Forward, back. Right foot: tap, tap, one two, three. Tap, tap, one, two, turn. 

Forward, back, forward, back. Right foot: tap, tap, one two, three. Tap, tap, one, two, turn. 

Forward, back, forward, back. Right foot: tap, tap, one two, three. Tap, tap, one, two, turn. 

Forward, back, forward, back. Right foot: tap, tap, one two, three. Tap, tap, one, two, turn. 

Forward, back, forward, back. Right foot: tap, tap, one two, three. Tap, tap, one, two, turn. 

Forward, back, forward, back. Right foot: tap, tap, one two, three. Tap, tap, one, two, turn. 

Forward, back, forward, back. Right foot: tap, tap, one two, three. Tap, tap, one, two, turn. 

Forward, back, forward, back. Right foot: tap, tap, one two, three. Tap, tap, one, two, turn. 

Forward, back, forward, back. Tap, tap, one two, three. Tap, tap, one, two, turn. 

Forward, back, forward, back. Tap, tap, one two, three. Tap, tap, one, two, turn. 

Forward, back, forward, back. Tap, tap, one two, three. Tap, tap, one, two, turn. 

Oh well done! Give yourselves a huge round of applause! That was fantastic! We have partied like it's 1945. Hopefully you've really enjoyed that. I think you did really well. Party all day, all afternoon. Hopefully you'll be dancing all afternoon and evening and have a fantastic time.  

Now, we would love to see some of your videos and your photos so please share your videos and photos of all your VE Day celebrations. Your parties, some of your dancing maybe, and you can do that just on the comments below or also on the Imperial War Museums Twitter and Facebook pages. So have yourself a fantastic, fun, happy and healthy Bank Holiday! Enjoy! 

Don’t forget to tell us how you get on or even better show us your moves on IWM’s Facebook and Twitter!

 

Party like it's 1945!

Photographs

Do the conga

Dancing the conga around a bonfire in East Acton, London during the evening of VE Day, 8 May 1945.

Can your family dance the conga? 

Photographs

Dancing in the streets

Having a. boogie in Berkley Square on VE Day, 8 May 1945. 

Can your family spring out some steps at home this VE Day?

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Sponsors

Family Mission has been created with the generous support of Old Possum's Practical Trust