No Ordinary Club Night

My student budget fancy dress 

Overdose of glamour
Expensive champagne

“Caged animals”

And blinding lights

Last night’s Belle Epoque Circus Party was absolutely mindblowing. The effort everyone had made with their costumes was incredible – there were corsets of all sorts of designs, masks, 1920s glamour inspired by Great Gatsby… I’ve previously moaned that the performance scene these days is monotonously depressing – but last night made an exception with a bang. In addition to the ‘abandoned dancing’ promised on the event description (pretty damn true as well!) there were performances co-organised by the Torture Garden (a famous fetish club). It was all circus style performance – acrobatics, sword swallowing – and I’d say the general atmosphere of the event captured something of a Restoration England theatre stage. That sort of theatricality may be endangered in mainstream theatre, but I was very happy to witness that it’s alive and well in other forms of performance – such as circus.
     While it wasn’t a fetish event, the fact that Torture Garden was co-organising may have catered for quite a niche audience. I also know quite a few cabaret/burlesque clubs in London, but there seems to be something elitist about all of them. And while it would be nice if this sort of entertainment was more readily available to people on student budget and low income, the theatre scene of the Restoration period was rather similar to today’s burlesque and fetish scene. In the 1660s, women would wear masks when seeing a play at the theatre, since it was not considered a respectable pastime – and similar masks were seen on many faces at the Bloomsbury Ballroom last night.
     So I take back what I said about Restoration theatre being dead. It’s still there, in nearly preserved form – it has only changed its veneer, while a bunch of sad, monotonous old men have taken the word theatre for themselves. I might start pretending that contemporary theatre doesn’t exist, and going to burlesque events and pretend I’m watching a play in a theatre in 1660s London.

My Until the Light Goes Out co-host Michael and I have, a couple of times, entertained the idea of including cabaret acts on our show. Unfortunately neither of us have contacts in that field of live performance, and we’ve never taken the idea further. But I might start working on that now, especially since I only have freelance work for the summer and a bit more time in my hands than usual.



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