The History of IVC

How IVC Began

The idea of IVC was conceived in May 1946 in the Scotch House Tea Rooms in Cambridge. Michael Wolff and Reggie Simeone, both undergraduates at St.John's College were having tea there and were talking about the informal dances Reggie was running in Cambridge for the International Student's Service. Reggie  was regretting that there would be no dances of this type during the long vacation. Then the idea came. Why should they not run such dances themselves? They both lived in London where there were many students on vacation wanting to continue the sort of social life they enjoyed during term time. They would enjoy running the dances and may even make a small profit from it.

The more they talked about it the better they liked it. They managed to raise enough money to pay for the hire of halls and bands and advertising, and set about planning six fortnightly dances spread over the summer vacation of 1946. Most were in the Chelsea Town Hall but for two occasions this was already booked and we went to St.Pancras instead.

We thought that ideally the dances should be run by a Club so that attendances could be suitably restricted. We were not then in a position to set up a properly organised Club although we intended to do this if the dances were a success. However we anticipated this by inventing the name "Iinter varsity Vacation Club" (I.V.C.) and we advertised the dances under this name. We also enrolled members which gave us a mailing list for future use; but as the club did not exist as a legal entity we did not charge a membership fee.

We trudged around Cambridge and London putting up posters and making contact with the Students' Unions. This bought in a membership of several hundred but we did not know still if people would come to the dances. We waited the first dance early in July with bated breath; to our great relief it was a success.

Some of the other dances were also successful while others were not so well attended, but we broke even financially and the idea of an Inter-Varsity Vacation Club had clearly caught the imagination. When the summer's dances ended, we were encouraged by people from many universities to follow the idea through by setting up a real Club and making the dances a regular feature of vacation life in London. There were enough genuine offers of help to make the effort worthwhile and we agreed to do so.

There could be no question of electing a committee so we gathered together a group of people willing to help in putting the Club on its feet and set ourselves up as the first committee of the Club in the winter of 1946/47. Chairman - Jean Cobbold, Secretary-Michael Wolff, Treasurer- Benjamin Tregear and Myself (Reggie Simeone) - Dance Organiser. Other members were, Denis Randall, Valerie Barber, and Adrienne Wolff.

The first programme under the auspices of the Inter-Varsity Vacation Club proper consisted of three dances which took place in the Easter Vacation of 1947 in Chelsea Town hall. The first was on Friday 28th March, the night before the boat race, and was a sensational success. There were about six hundred people there and it was one of the liveliest evenings I can remember. IVC was well and truly launched.

During the summer of 1947 we planned the programme for the summer vacation. We drafted the first  I.V.C. Constitution, with the advice of a firm of solicitors in Cambridge. We also persuaded Professor John Wisdom of Cambridge University to become the Club's first President.

By 1950 the makeshift organisation of the first year had been converted to a highly efficient concern. The name had been changed to Inter-Varsity Club (still IVC) to reflect that the founders were no longer students wanting vacation entertainment, but graduates living in London all year round and the Committee was soon beginning to consider hiring premises.

Those of us who were involved in building up the Club in those early days certainly had no idea it would continue into the nation - wide institution it is today.