He decided to stay here and exercise his profession, that of a Swedish masseur. At this time there opened the most famous skating rink of all time, the resort of society and fashion, all tremendously keen on the new sport portrayed so superbly by Grenander, and in a lesser degree by those, mostly of the corps diplomatique, who had had opportunity to see it and take lessons in it in Vienna, Berlin and St. Petersburg. The club was presided over by a debonair gentleman, The Hon. Algernon Grosvenor, an uncle of the Duke of Westminster, who was in every way fitted for the job. His method of running the club is best illustrated by the following true story. Time and again he was being pestered by an over-dressed, be-ringed young gentleman who was allowed in, on a voucher, as to why, after two or three years, he was still not elected. Said Mr. Governor: My dear fellow, there are two lists of candidates for election, A and B, those on A get elected, those on B dont.
Unfortunately for you, my dear fellow, your name is on B. And that was that.
Gone were the days of the heavy boot, brown or black and the Dowler blade. The building was warm, which meant that it was possible for the ladies to dress extremely smartly. Skates with high pillars up to 2 1/2 inches to which the blades were fitted with rivets, black highly polished boots, sometimes of glace kid, morning coats after luncheon, dinner jackets always on the club evenings. Such was the dress considered de rigueur at the turn of the week, lounge suits for the gentlemen became permissible but not on Sunday afternoon lasted up to 1914 at Princes Skating Club.
The ladies wore beautifully cut black cloth skirts reaching to the top of the shining black boots. Now and again there was a glimpse of coloured lining or petticoat or very daring sleek black silk stockings. As I have said, the rink being very warm, transparent chiffon blouses were quite in order dashing toques with osprey plumes or jewelled brooches made a gay and glittering picture. But the first sign of the shape of things to come, was the occasion upon which one delightful daughter of the aristocracy appeared to give a show one Sunday afternoon a regular tea-time event, with half the smart world of Edwardian society present clad in a black silk maillot, a top a daringly short skirt, and quite obviously NO CORSETS. This caused the most tremendous sensation and considerable adverse criticism but she looked so delightful, so graceful and so lissom, that gradually a movement for freer clothing for skating began to take shape; but the war intervened, and it was not until peace came again that freedom of costume and of movement was finally adopted.
Everyone, with of course varying degrees of success, tried hard to emulate the wonderful style of the graceful young athlete Grenander: in fact I think one is justified in saying that his extempore demonstrations on Sunday afternoon, when quite spontaneously, all the skaters would clear a large space in the middle of the rink and, no matter who was giving the usual formal exhibition, Henning would signal to the orchestra, which would perform quietly some waltz or mazurka or other piece, and he would play about just as the mood and the music made him. There was no set programme, and what is more there was no jealousy or annoyance by the advertised exhibitioners none that I ever heard.
The Early Years upto 1914
Part 8
The Early Years upto 1914 (Part 9). The Early Years upto 1914 Index.
As time went on towards the First World War, there came to the fore those who, having modeled themselves on Grenander had become, as they matured and he got older although it is difficult to imagine that of him whom I described in Modern Figure Skating as the Peter Pan of the sport much more advanced skaters, for skating itself had advanced, and sixteen years had past, and yet there was always a cleared space for this extraordinary man already past the forty mark. It was an age of honour to whom honour is due and everyone gave it to Henning, ungrudgingly.
No account of this turn of the century period would be complete without reference to the rink at Nice, in the South of France. This rink which opened only for the five o clock tea until one or two in the morning and was well supported by a small casino for gambling, had at one time a very good staff of teachers.
Bror Meyer & Emmie Bergfeldt of Sweden 1914