The AQR (not the Christmas party) was held somewhere a little different this year. The venue was the HMS President, a 1918 Royal Navy war ship built for the First World War. Moored on the bank of the Thames she became a drill ship for the Royal Naval reserves. Preserved for posterity in the ‘80s, she has been playing host to partygoers for the last 25 years.

We arrived at the river in darkness and so could not fully appreciate the ship in all her glory but were still very excited to be going aboard a London landmark. Once inside, in the warm, we were greeted with a tray of delicious fruity cocktails and directed downstairs to where the event was already under way.

Ronnie Scott’s Rejects provided the music and did an excellent job of creating a party mood, playing all evening. They took us on a journey from ‘30s swing and jazz, via ‘60s motown and soul, right up to current pop hits. The lead singer had a fabulous voice and at one point the saxophonist even went on a walk about in the audience. They really got the party started.

The boat was awash with AQR members catching up with old friends and being introduced to new faces. There was a great turnout: fieldwork agencies, research agencies, transcription services, viewing facilities and recruiters working in qualitative research were all represented.

The canapés definitely went down well; we were provided with a selection of smaller nibbles as well as bigger dishes, my personal favourite were the chocolate churros. The staff did a great job of keeping our glasses topped up.

The weather was dry enough to allow us to venture up on to the top deck from where there was a wonderful panorama of the brightly lit capital.

The high point of the evening was the swing dancing lesson. First two dancers took to the floor and entertained us, performing along to the live tunes behind them. They had some impressive synchronised jiving moves.

It wasn’t long however before it was time for the guests to step up and join in. There was some trepidation at first in sharing a stage with the energetic professionals but they soon had everyone in a circle learning some swing dancing steps and getting a lot better acquainted with those next to them!

The HMS President was an excellent choice of location for this year’s event. Most of the guests found their sea legs, and the gentle sway of the tide made it difficult not to get into the swing of things on the dance floor. I really enjoyed the theme of the evening and look forward to what is going to be dreamed up for next year!