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leslie's guiding traditions

The first Gang Show was held at the Scala Theatre in London, for three nights in 1932, organised and written by "A Holborn Rover", to raise funds for building a swimming pool at Downe Scout Camp. He was later revealed to be Ralph Reader, a dancer and director working both in London and also in the USA. He wrote the variety or revue show, staged it, and directed it.

Following that 1932 success, it became an annual show. In 1937 (and again in 1957 and 1964) the London Gang Show cast performed in the Royal Command Show. All of the cast and crew were Scouts from London and the 'Home Counties', and were amateur volunteers. In 1968, Guides were first invited to join the London Gang Show. With Ralph's retiral in 1974, the last London Gang Show was staged. But by this time, Gang Show had spread, with other Gang Shows being run in cities around the UK and countries around the world. Following the custom of the London show, most gang show casts wear a red necker, which features of the back the letters GS, shot through with the name of the host location. All Gang Shows follow the same format of comedy sketches and song & dance numbers, sometimes including original material by Ralph Reader, more often including items with topical or local references - and the show ends with the full gang arranged on the stage, singing the finale songs, which usually feature the Ralph Reader composition, "Crest of a Wave" which Reader wrote with the Sea Scout section in mind.

To qualify to use the name "Gang Show", certain performance standards must be met, and permission obtained from headquarters.