• Photographer Dafydd Jones was on hand to capture the decadence and awkward fumbles at British upper-class parties in the 1980s. He explains each of the images: ‘An early attempt at smoking cigars at the first debutante dance I photographed.’ Dafydd Jones’s work is on sale at the Cultural Traffic arts fair, Truman Brewery, London, 17-18 December
  • ‘Mrs Mazandi and family escaped the revolution that had just happened in Iran. I think her husband had originally worked for the Shah. After arriving in London, she invited the English aristocracy to her parties in Belgravia. Her parties were more informal and relaxed than the usual stiff dinners. I remember at one, as everyone danced on the tables, Nigel Dempster silenced the room by shouting, “If only the Ayatollah could see us!”’
  • ‘My way of photographing a party has been to try to show the interesting moments. I knew these boys and I don’t think they were acting up for me. I didn’t look like a professional photographer, and people didn’t notice me much taking pictures. I would use a small modest-looking Olympus rangefinder camera called an Olympus RC. The rangefinder allowed focusing in low light. It remains a little-known classic. Most of this evening was actually boring. Probably why someone picked up a soda siphon’
  • ‘The Cinderella ball was a charity ball that raised money for the NSPCC. In the era of punk, the New Romantics and Gaz Mayall’s club Billy’s in Soho, this was a straight-looking crowd. I wasn’t working for anyone. Wearing a secondhand dinner jacket, I somehow persuaded the organisers to allow me in. Unlike nowadays I don’t remember seeing any other photographers there. I didn’t stay long as I had to rush back to catch the last train back to Oxford’
  • ‘Not a good idea to have a party near a pond. I’d drunk a glass of wine which may have slowed my reactions down to that last possible moment. The reeds add to the drama looking like an exaggerated splash. During the evening, several other guests ended up in it, including the girl that gave the party – though I missed that picture’
  • ‘Each year the college that rowed “head of the river” during Eights week set fire to an old boat after a celebration dinner. Each time I would have to smuggle myself into the college before the porter would lock the doors to outsiders. I’d make myself inconspicous until I’d hear shouting and cheering coming from the dinner and then the rowers would come out and the boat would be set fire to. For me it symbolises the 1980s, the big bang and time of Thatcher. But it works almost as well upside down as an abstract composition’
  • ‘In June 1981 I wasn’t employed by anyone as a photographer, but spent a week photographing May balls in Cambridge. I’d sleep through most of the day and at night take pictures. On this evening I photographed gatecrashers climbing in and then as dawn approached and the security relaxed, it was possible to walk into the colleges. As this was early in the morning there wasn’t much light. My camera was on a slow shutter speed. They kind of froze for a moment in this amazing position’
  • ‘This picture is a fair record of what happened at this teenage ball. A large print was exhibited recently in Annabel’s, for an exhibition organised by Tatler magazine. At the opening, a lady was delighted that she was in the picture. She’d recognised the tights and an earring’