Lady Malcolm's Servants' Ball: reviving London's 1920s & 1930s queer scene

Performers in servants' attire at Duckie’s Lady Malcolm’s Servants’ Ball
Duckie’s Lady Malcolm’s Servants’ Ball at Bishopsgate Institute. Credit: Holly Revell

Heritage Grants

City of London
Duckie
£78800
A collective of performance artists re-enacted Lady Malcolm’s Servants’ Ball; a firm fixture of the queer scene in London almost a century ago.

Between 1923 and 1938 the notorious party, Lady Malcolm’s Servants’ Ball, attracted ‘working class queans, dykes, inbetweeners & trans-gressives’ to its events in Kensington Town Hall and later at the Royal Albert Hall.

Nearly a century later, the Ball was revived by Duckie, a group of performance artists who host events, theatre productions and more.

Through Lady Malcolm's Servants’ Ball and exhibitions at the Bishopsgate Institute, this project engaged marginalised groups across London and the South East coast and united them in their quest to preserve important LGBTQ+ heritage.

 A £78,700 National Lottery Heritage Fund grant helped Duckie fill a gap in heritage projects exploring LGBTQ+ lives in the 1900s to 1950s.

The funding enabled a youth group of community volunteers, people on low income and older LGBTQ+ people to:

  • uncover materials relating to the Lady Malcolm’s Servants’ Ball sourced from four archives
  • create an exhibition of archival materials telling the story of the Servant's Ball
  • run 12 interactive talks and costume making workshops about the Servants’ Ball
  • re-enact the famous ball through two large scale theatre events
  • publish a free 16-page broadsheet