Chez Henri was an intimate and popular dance club that flowered in London in the mid 1920s and became one of the favoured haunts of London’s high society in the Jazz Age.
The club was created by Mr and Mrs Herbert Henri in late 1924 with premises upstairs on the first floor at 7-8 Long Acre. It was viewed as a ‘new little venture’ in a ‘delightful’, cosy, Rose du Barry apartment and admired for having excellent food, good wines and first class dance music. There was a quartet of performers – pianist, trombonist, saxophonist and a drummer.
The Henri’s had been previously associated with the dancing amenities at the Queen’s Hall Roof from 1919, that had finally blossomed as one of the early cabaret venues in London during the early 1920s. Shortly after opening a new form of theft caused London dance club proprietors much worry and one of the casualties was the band at Chez Henri who found their instruments stolen.
Like many other new London Clubs, Chez Henri fell foul of the law and in early 1925, the club was raided by the police. A fine of £85 plus costs was given to Herbert Henry for selling intoxicating liquor after permitted hours on four different dates. The prosecutor said that prior to this the club had been well conducted and so it is likely that caution was exercised because the club was not closed and instead was given an adjournment of six months and Henri applied for an extension of hours until 12.30.
In late 1925 a specially engaged Argentine orchestra was engaged to perform at Chez Henri in addition to the small band headed by Charles Kunz, and, a little later a clever young acrobatic dancer called Ruby Stewart appeared in cabaret. Finally in 1926 Chez Henri was being regarded as ‘one of the several better class night-clubs catering for the dancing public’ and cabaret acts became a feature and varied in importance according to the season. Acts that recently performed were Fisher and Gilmore (who had made their debut on stage prior to doing variety), Sidney Nesbitt (a ukulele player who had been seen at Chez Nous at the Cavour) and Newell and Most (who had been successful at the Coliseum and in a Palladium revue).
In late 1926 Florence Oldham, described as the ‘celebrated broadcasting star’ was the reigning attraction at Chez Henri and in early 1927, the popular entertainers Leo Deslys and Kelso Clarke had a residency.
By the middle of 1927, Chez Henri was described as the ‘Old established and quiet dance club’ and had continued book first class musical dancing and vocal acts. On 14th July 1927 Kel Keech and Ord Hamilton opened and in late 1927 Leo Deslys and Kelso Clarke began a return visit.
Chez Henri was still in existence in 1932 with Charles Kuntz leading the orchestra, but it is not known how long it thrived and endured.
Jack Hylton by Pete Faint
The Referee 9 November 1924
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