The history of the jazz-styled dance band in Great Britain officially begins in 1919 with the arrival of the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, although ragtime records made by British orchestras appeared as early as 1912. Of all European nations, Britain took to Jazz most comfortably, and by the time recordings of British Dance Bands began to become common in 1923, jazz was already a well-established commodity in the U.K. The tremendous success enjoyed by the American group Hal Kemp's Carolina Club Orchestra in 1924 gained the attention of authorities who were concerned about the deleterious effect touring American bands had on local orchestras, so an embargo was set up to keep the American bands out. This was relaxed from time to time to allow a specific American orchestra that the English wanted to hear, for example Duke Ellington, to come to the UK. The effect of the embargo was to encourage the British Dance Band to flourish, and it did not exclude individual Americans from joining local bands. American musicians such as Adrian Rollini, Frank Guerante, and Danny Polo enjoyed celebrity status in the UK upon abandoning their American careers to perform overseas. On the other hand, certain British bandleaders, such as Ambrose, Spike Hughes, Reginald Foresythe, and Ray Noble went to America to form and record with ensembles in the United States.
The way that this continuing cross-fertilization between the American model and the British bands played out was that jazz orchestras within the UK grew to be more numerous and of generally higher quality than those in continental European nations at the time. Recordings of jazz groups and dance orchestras such as Ambrose, Lew Stone, Fred Elizalde, the Savoy Orpheans, Jack Harris, and Sid Phillips compare favorably to those made by dance bands in the United States. The British style of swing was basically undistinguishable from the American model, except that it was a bit more polite and less serious, and featured singers that were obviously attuned to the UK style of English speech as opposed to American accents. The interruption of the Second World War meant mostly that the best talent ended up transferred into the military, and some key artists were lost during the London blitz, most tragically the exquisite South African singer Al Bowlly, killed in a bombing raid in 1941.
Whereas the American dance band went into a quick decline after the Second World War ended, in the UK they remained popular well into the Rock 'n' Roll era, and have never really gone entirely out of fashion, despite stiff competition over the years from newer developments in English music such as Trad, Skiffle, the more advanced forms of Jazz, Rock music, Punk and Reggae.