Dr Romain outlined the reasons for the charity gala on 29 January 1928 - the Thames Flood of 7 January 1928 in which 14 people died - and the fact that this was performed by an 'all-star coloured' cast. She pointed to the popular success of Black performers in the UK, particularly African-Americans such as Florence Mills (1895-1927), and how they were a part of Variety and music hall entertain around the country. The show was put on by composer and musician Noble Sissle (1889 - 1975), whose show (written with Eubie Blake) Shuffle Along (1921) was the first musical on Broadway to written by, about and performed by African Americans.
|Josephine Baker at Croydon Airport in 1928, CAS No. 1218413|
Dr Romain pointed out that at the time Baker was an immense star so getting to London toperform for the afternoon was a real draw. The discussion after the talk covered many areas, including Baker's stardom and resilience as a resistance worker in World War Two and her late comeback in 1974 just before she died. One member of the audience pointed out that she would work at one club until 1 am and then perform at another until 5 am. Baker was a fixture of Parisian nightlife in the 1920s and 30s. The advert from an Air Union magazine from 1928 in the society's archives illustrate that Baker was probably part of the appeal for tourists crossing to Paris by air.
Dr Romain stressed that Baker coming by plane for an afternoon would have added to the the publicity and glamour that surrounded her. Baker's air dash, while she was unwell, was widely reported in the tabloid reviews of the performance and the speed in which she travelled by air was heavily emphasised.