Forged in 1994 by Andrew Kennedy, Colin Messer and Andy Williams, Thrales was tailored for London, with just one aim: to be a hard-dancing side built for regular pub tours.
The founding fathers practiced in the Anchor pub on the Thames bankside in Southwark. Here they sharpened their skills and honed what would become the Thrales style; quick, smart, with a sense of attack and a hint of aggression.
(l-r) Malcolm Lawrence, Colin Messer, Andrew Kennedy, and Andy Williams. 2015
It was easier to get everyone else to look stony-faced than it was to get Andy (Williams) to smile convincingly.
— Andrew Kennedy
The Anchor had once been the tap for a vast brewery run by Henry and Hester Thrale. The back bar was called the Thrale Room and this was where the First 9 installed themselves.
As they practised, Hester Thrale watched over them from above the fireplace. No matter how bad their dancing was, Mrs Thrale never criticised. When they were ready to name the team, the choice was obvious.
Hester Thrale had stuck by them, through the good, the bad and the terrible. Adopting her as their patron, they took her name for the team and named their first dance after her pub.
EFDSS wanted to know what our new team was called. Put under a little pressure we said Thrales. The feeling was we could always change it later, but it was a natural fit.
— Andy Williams
The Anchor pub sits right on the Thames tourist trail, and while the Thrale Room was available at no cost, the team were denied exclusive use. Practices were regularly interrupted to show off to the tourists, when all they wanted was a quiet pint. The tourists probably wanted a drink too.
Thrales continued to practice at the Anchor for about a year, then briefly at the Bunch of Grapes, and the Borough Community Centre. When that closed for gentrification the team moved to the Welsh Congregational Chapel, which was the team's base in Southwark for many years.
In 2018 Thrales were forced to leave Southwark and find a new home in Clerkenwell. We remain committed to Welsh Congregationalism.
We liked the look of the old Swalwell guys. It was distinctive, easily adaptable, and we'd have no trouble getting in the pubs past the bouncers.
— Malcolm Lawrence
Look, No smiling
The Thrales look was inspired by a photo of a traditional team from Tyneside. Swalwell's neckerchiefs, broad belts and trousers formed the basis of our kit. Most male teams favour hoggers and knee socks, so opting for trousers made Thrales weirdly eccentric.
The question of smiling was also given careful consideration. A uniform look of grim determination was thought better than fifty shades of grin, and not-smiling has become another distinguishing motif.
From the banks of the mighty Thames river, on the Surrey side, Thrales will perform a dance that lasts three and a half minutes. Then we will go away.
COMMIT NO NUISANCE
Thrales have adopted a number of Southwark street signs for emblems over the years. "Commit No Nuisance" is now firmly part of our mythology, and the irony isn’t lost on us.
The notices date back to Victorian times and were intended as a warning, to stop people doing what they do down dark alleys at night.
The commit no nuisance sign is the third logo adopted by Thrales. The previous two were both based on another real piece of London's street furniture.
Thrales Street and the sign which inspired the first two logos, is only a few hundred yards from where the team originally practiced on Bankside and Borough in Southwark.