Monday, 29 July 2013

Willkommen, bienvenue, welcome Im Cabaret, au Cabaret, to Cabaret- Freche Muse

         So Freche Muse , the night got off to a little bit of a shaky start due to the great British weather. I left the house when it was overcast, with a supposedly water proof coat and before i'd reached the end of my road the heavens had opened and i was soaked through. To add insult to injury I got splashed twice enroute by cars which soaked my lower half which until then had been relatively water free. I got to the station and  reached the relative safety of the platform shelter. Only for the train to pull up at the wrong platform. Necessitating a mad dash through the rain, down the stairs along  a corridor and up another set of stairs before reaching the train. Fortunately the driver wiated for us all to change platform. I did get to experience anew sensation on the train which was to sit  in the loo desperately trying to dry my shirt under one of those hand dryers which is part soap dispenser part dryer and part tap. If your hand strayed too far you activated the water which I managed to do thus negating a large part of the drying process. The result of this dampenig did take some of the buzz off my pre coming out alcohol Home made lemonade and peach schnapps is very pleasant and doesn't taste alcoholic. But guess what , if your ever told to take a cold shower to sober up well it works even a fairly humid one.
           So between desperately trying to dry off and googling 24 hour laundrettes in euston/dalston just in case , as white shirts plus water are not a good look unless you're female and fairly nubile.   One thing i did find out in my travels is Boots in Euston does sell umbrellas but at £15 pound a go. I decided to risk more rain.  I also found out that no one sells towels after 6pm or no shops that sell towels are open to be more accurate.  I did however find a general store that sold me a red and white tea towel for 99p . With which i was able at least able to make myself more human.

            This was my first trip to Dalston and it appears fairly cosmopolitan and from the shop fronts i guess there is a substantil Turkish population. So we met up at Bar 23 , a pleasant open fronted bar with some vintage touches in an old gramophone and a vintage radio on display. Also Rekordeling  at a reasonable  £4 a bottle another drink where you cant taste the alcohol.
            Now don't know why as normally a couple of drinks make me feel quite merry but maybe it was the unexpected  drenching but the alcohol didnt seem to have the desired effect . After a brief burst of 80's pop  from the bars resident DJ  rendered somewhat surreal by our 1920's attire (maybe a niche their 70's clothing to 1940's music or vice versa  , mix and match club nights.) we made our way down to Dalston Boys club.

The entrance is on what would appear to be an average residential street in fact we weren't sure which direction to turn until the bouncers ushered us over. How could they tell !!

The interior was basically a church hall  in form, a description which does not do the decorations any justice. From the stuffed fox to the painting to the creepy doll peering down from the mezzanine , to the wooden sideboard doing duty as a bar . As Jamina pointed out the place had a feel of an Evelyn Waugh novel .  It could have been a 1920's party full of young and carefree London aristocrats and bohemians. In fact the events host known for the evening as Baron Von Sanderson could have stepped out of the pages of a Waugh or PG Wodehouse novel . Heir to a fortune , organising bashes for his friends  and hangers on. 

The hall was a private residence so when in search of cooler environs we descended to the basement we discovered an indoor smoking area , a shock which goes to prove how effective the smoking ban has been and how are expectations have changed. A dark smoke filled basement with vintage porn from presumably the 1920's playing on a roughly whitewashed wall . While cooler the smoke son drove me back up the decidely rickety stairs

The entertainment was spread through out the evening every 15 minutes in the same way manana means tomorrow in Spanish. Starting with a chanteuse  who did some to start off depressing songs before moving into some more upbeat numbers  the entertainment grew more risque and more visible as the numbers thinned out. We were treated to a variety of burlesque acts including a fire eater, a strip tease act , although they were all strip tease acts but I suppose in the words of "Gypsy"  In burlesque "you gotta have a gimmick" The climax was a rendition of salome involving a grotesque decapitated head fortunately fake lots and lots of glitter fans and angel wings.

In capturing a louche , decadent night the effect had been achieved, I had a good night despite the alcohol having worn off. Although it did  mean that I wasn't tipsy enough to essay the more risque part of my costume taking the safe option.  But there's always next time. I hadn't dared wear it on public transport and when we arrived onsite the toilet facilities were very limited and i didn't want to go in there and get changed in fact the less time spent in the toilets the better particularly by the end of the night.

As you may notice I have managed to work out how to get photos from my phone onto here . So for your delight and delectation some rather risque photos of the nights entertainment entirely in keeping with the feel of the night. 

Monday, 22 July 2013

Those magnificent men in their flying machines.

It's July and that means the annual pilgrimage to the vintage aircraft enthusiast paradise that is Flying Legends . So last Sunday we set off with picnic in tow for a day of all things aviation.

For those who've not been you get for your £35

The museum itself with its  hangars and exhibitions
A good 3 hours of flying  including the finale or balbo which this year had 21aircraft
A mix of stalls selling everything from books to clothing , sweets to models
Singing from the Manhattan dolls
For an extra £5 you can do the flightline walk and get up close to the participants .

So  we arrived and unpacked the car and staggered off carrying directors chairs , the picnic, cameras, enough water to float the titanic.

Given the weather  we headed for a favourite spot under the wing of one of the airliners parked on the tarmac .  Base camp established we decided to treat ourselves to a cup of tea from one of the stalls.. Tea that you needed asbestos gloves to transport.

Tea drunk I set off to explore. Just behind us was a booth selling passes to the airliners on site. 10 aircraft for a mere £2.50 a bargain.

With the occasional side trip to the stalls who can resist reference books to a pound. I managed to to tick off  9 of the 10.

Concorde was  amazing but very small inside.

The air show itself was its normal fabulous self.

We had spitfire s mixing it up with ME109. We had mustang, we had a storch and a lysander, a B17 ,  a corsair.  A Hawker Demon or Daymonne as Bernard the French commentator called it.

His melodious tones and commentary make the e show. Not everyone s cup of tea  but  he has a certain charm.

Unfortunately one of my favourites the swordfish didn't fly.

Now the air show gets several thousand attendees at least so if you want to  get away in plenty of time you need  to beat the mad rush.

So after the main program while the balbo is forming up we as normal started moving up towards the rise by the land warfare hall affectionately known as the tank bank. This strategic location gives a good view of the balbo and is strategically close to the loos for one  last pre journey trip. It also puts you in a good position for the mad dash to the car park.

All in all a good day and for once didn't get Sun burnt.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

I know a whoopee spot Where the gin is cold But the piano's hot! It's just a noisy hall Where there's a nightly brawl And all that jazz

So for yet another evening I stepped back in time to the 1920's or 30's or 40's  according to the range of clothing on display.
Last night I ventured to the Black Cotton Club as hosted by the Bar Volupte. It is supposedly famous for it's burlesque but we were only there for the dancing part of the evenng.
The bar itself is tucked away in what would seem to be a primarily non residential part of Holborn.
The Bar itself is fairly small intimate venue. It has an extensive cocktail menu and downstaris is the dance floor where DJ's spin proper vinyl from and not knowing the music Id say a mix of 20 and 30's.
The people on the dance floor were mostly dressed up but it was a little weird to see a guy in shorts and a tee shirt showing off very good swing dancing moves . I think it was because he looked out of context but his dancing was very much in the venues context.
The venue was very hot, whether this was just due to the weather or its always like that with everyone crowded into the basement I couldn't tell. The place wasnt as full as I thought it would be. This wasnt a bad thing as the style and quality of dancing required a lot of room.
The vene did feel very 1920's and even the venues photographer was shooting with what looked like a 16 mm camera
In some ways you could have been on a film set.
There hints of the rooms other use as a burlesque house, a piano in a corner , a shoe in a display case, vintage erotic wallpaper in the bar upstairs.
It was well worth the visit and was a fun evening. 

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

So I'd like to know where, you got the notion Said I'd like to know where, you got the notion To rock the boat, don't rock the boat baby .

         So I've been  doing Ceroc for a little while now most Tuesday Nights. I must admit that it's good fun and a lot of it is the social side. The people I dance with are  a very friendly but I digress. Last Sunday I ventured to my very first Freestyle. As I set out I thought to myself I must be mad . It was one of the hottest days of the year and I would be dancing on a boat built in 1918 so modern air conditioning seemed unlikely.
          I must admit that dancing on "the Boat" HMS President was great fun. I arrived about half an hour before opening anxious to be first in what turned out to be a non existent queue.
           As we watched other people turn up their were a few with fairly professional looking dance bags which I had to assume probably held sate of the are bespoke 50 pound plus a pair dancing shoes. A little intimidated we decided now was a good time to board "the boat".
            I cant really picture what it must have been like when originally built but currently their was on the deck where you entered a sort of lobby with a very grand grand piano and a bar/lounge area which I was later to discover was dishing out free tea and coffee and cakes.
           On the deck above their was a largish hall with a stage at one end and behind that was a small bar with chandeliers and access to the stern.
            When we first arrived the hall was fairly empty and their wa sonly the 2 instructors warming up at one end of the dance floor. I was slightly worried that the combined distractions of Andy Murray and sunshine would keep people away but the hall slowly filled up.
             While we sat waiting to brave the dancefloor we saw a number of people vanish and reappear  with cups of tea and cake. These must have been regulars as I wouldn't have known about the free food if it wasnt for people bringing it up from below decks. It was I admit a nice touch and although in the sunshine I wasn't very hungry I can see to being just the ticket when the nights start to draw in later in the year.
              We kicked off the dancing with a short class where we learned 3 moves it was a good way to get people on the dance floor and I think from that point on the floor was fairly packed.
               Now there is a nack to dancing on a boat. Firstly because its bobbing about and secondly because the dance floor had a distinct camber and you were at points dancing uphill followed by down hillthen back up again. An interesting sensation but one which we quickly adapted too.

               I had a great time boogieng about the company was very pleasant , the atmosphere despite the heat very pleasant if ocasionally a little warm.
               One remedy for the heat was to venture through the bar to the stern of the boat. Now HMS Saxifrage as she was originally called was built a a Q ship that is a decoy designed to lull an enemy submarine into attacking on the surface before attacking it with hidden weaponry. Now any of the Kaiser's U boat captains spying the dancing around on the stern of the Saxifrage would have been very sure it wasn't a naval vessel and may have assumed it was under some sort of quarantine given the number of people twirling , lifting, and dropping in a 30 degree heat wave .
               I must admit it was one of the funnest Sunday afternoons I have passed recently. Dancing on aboat in the middle of London in the sunshine  with great views up and down the river watching and being watched by tourist and pleasure boat passengers was a great buzz. If you do like Ceroc or they host any other danc eevent I reccomend checking out HMS President as a place t dance away your blues and have a good time.


Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Underneath the Arches

So here's more from the Archives. My first event with alternative nightlife meetup was Leyshon Brothers. This was a pop up Victorian experience in a railway arch near London Bridge. There was great secrecy surrounding the location and a secret password . Anyway there I was at London Bridgestation with a bit of paper with a map on for the pub we were to meet in and a slight perturbation not knowing quite what to expect.. So after a slightly longer wander than expected, I located the pub . It was a smallish pub with tables round the outside outside of a square central bar  and desperately racking my brain to remember what my fellow attendees looked like. A task complicated slightly by the fancy dress birthday party that was occurring on the first floor . Although I have to admit  Spiderman doesn't look very Victorian. Although there is probably a steam punk version out there.

After a couple of drinks we set off for the secret location. Although the long queue of Victorian themed people at a scruffy set of green painted wooden doors kind of gave it away.

A quick note on period fancy dress for the beginner. Not wanting to spend too much I opted for a pair of braces over a white shirt and dark trousers . Now for those on a budget this can get you from Victorian Times to at least the 1950's by adding braces to items you already have in your wardrobe..

Now we stepped back in time to Victorian Times. Our first stop was the gin palace where a chatty / flirty to the ladies italian barman made us a gin cocktail. After this libation we wandered along a tunnel  past some Victorian style games of chance / fair ground slideshow type things.

At the top of the tunnel l was a I suppose morecworking class  Victorian pub. At least the drinks were sold in metal mugs.

There was a fortune teller but she was doing such a thorough reading that the queue was very long.

There was another slightly classier pub with attached music hall.

We  we're on the second sitting for the show.  The entertainment ranged from zither playing to a strongman act . Including a stripping magician, of the male variety.

As my first experience of alternative london it was mixed. I'd met some nice and interesting people. It was great to see a lot of effort put into costumes, it was an unusual use of a brown field site. Unfortunately the last one as the railway was reclaiming the land.

There could have been more to do, especially as it was the last one. Maybe more happened after I left. As I had to dash up the northern line. It was fun but I'm not sure I'd have gone back if it had been an option.