The White Horse Tavern had a British pub atmosphere and was a regular stopping off point for seamen working on the Hudson River – their presence reminding Thomas of the dockside watering-holes of Swansea. Imagine dockworkers and union activists discussing strike tactics in one corner, whilst in the other William Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg are exploding the American Dream. For the ‘Rimbaud of Cwmdonkin Drive’ this provided the perfect stage for some beer and whisky-fuelled verbal jousting with New York’s literary luminaries.
Dylan Thomas thrived on such situations, and often used his bravado and cunning to get better pay or further adventures. At the bar as well as on the stage, Thomas' natural charisma and dramatic and lyrical use of language left all around him spellbound.
A few years later, a young hopeful called Robert Zimmerman performed in the White Horse Tavern and other music joints in Greenwich Village, changing his name to ‘Bob Dylan’ and becoming an iconic singer songwriter and musical trickster. We pay tribute to the two Dylans through a re-staging of the opening sequence of D.A. Pennebaker’s 1967 film ‘Don’t Look Back’, adapted to a reading of ‘The Colour of Saying’ by native New Yorker Phil Levy.