Best alternative nightlife of 2008
Alternative nightlife editor Simone Baird names her highlights of 2008, and asks the scene’s leaders to share their 12 months of mayhem
While the main neo-cabaret guard – notably Jonny Woo, Justin Bond, Empress Stah, Dusty Limits – all did exceptional new work and furthered their trajectories into the mainstream, the most heartening thing about 2008 was the precocious quality of the next generation. Thanks to Bourgeois & Maurice, Ryan Styles, Dickie Beau and La John Joseph, the future of the artform is in very safe hands.
Conversely, burlesque’s trading stock fell through the floor, due to scores of amateurs who didn’t know any better. Hopefully 2009 will see the talented likes of Fancy Chance, Immodesty Blaize and über-doyenne Jo King stamp their heels and show the wannabes, once and for all, how to shimmy with style.
Vintage nights continued apace, with Lady Luck in particular having a cracking year. Moving from the Soho Revue Bar, the club night settled in three small rooms in strip-club-by-day Platinum to great success. And the first Lady Luck Weekender was celebrated with half a dozen parties across London.
Most breathtaking of all? Punchdrunk’s 'Masque of the Red Death': ghostly, interactive theatre that stayed with us for months after its run ended in January. Also You Me Bum Bum Train (at Cordy House until December 20) who provided a wild, heart-stopping 15-minute fairground ride of a show in a Shoreditch warehouse.
We weren’t alone in developing a massive girl-crush on chanteuse Camille O'Sullivan following her long-overdue London debut in March – 2009 suddenly looked brighter after we heard news of her Roundhouse date on January 14.
But it wasn’t all chin-stroking culture, darlings. We donned mullets for Bogan Bingo, got a bit too lairy at James Brown's One Mick Jones pub quiz, frocked-up like a cowgirl for Timberlina's Dolly Parton love-in and decided that fronting a ukulele karaoke band was our every dream come true.
There you have it. 2009 is going to have to be a an illegal-Chinese-cracker of a year to top all that.
Brett Haylock, La Clique
Highlight of 2008?'Walking into The London Hippodrome for the very first time in May 2008 and realising that we had finally found our London home. After dancing around London for a number of years and growing increasingly frustrated with dead ends, this was an epiphany: from day one it was apparent that the combination of La Clique and The Hippodrome was going to be a marriage made in heaven.
Cheered loudest for…‘Obama. A real leader emerging in these times, and I'm always one for a great performer: what a speech!'
Jaw dropped to the floor when…‘The court granted the right for the Hippodrome to be turned into a casino. Red tape and money rule the day again.’
Disappointed by…‘The loss of yet another beautiful, historic theatre to a cold, unimaginative profit margin.'
Trend of 2008?'I have managed to avoid trends for the best part of my life and don't see that changing in the near future. La Clique bucked the trends when it was created in 2004, and has continued to defy them ever since. Trends are transient but quality and style are always in vogue.'
Prediction for 2009…'In the current climate, creativity will flourish and audiences will clamour for quality entertainment. I think we will celebrate the return of one-of-a-kind performers who are un-franchisable, having spent years perfecting their craft. As pocket money dwindles, audiences will want to see real value for money, real performers and not faceless, corporate, mass-produced entertainment.'Lisa Lee, performer
Highlight of 2008?‘Standing on the top of the The House of Egypt’s human pyramid at November’s Homotopia.’
Cheered loudest for…‘Spanky, for carrying me and my broken leg across endless muddy fields before storming Bestival with The LipSinkers.'
Jaw dropped to the floor when…‘The LipSinkers were invited to perform at The Labour Party Conference.'
Disappointed by…‘Saying farewell to 'A Night of A Thousand Jay Astons' after 100 spectacular performances.'
Trend of 2008?'Rejoicing in the unholy trinity of Bethnal Green Road, Hackney Road and Kingsland Road.'
Prediction for 2009…'Jonny Woo goes mainstream.'
Secret plans for 2009?‘Continuing to high-kick through the credit crunch with Richardette, Spanky, Jonny Woo, John Sizzle, Ryan Styles, Mr Teds and the rest of our fabulous gang. And watch out for Rude Grrl.'Dusty Limits, rake
Highlight of 2008?‘Amanda Palmer at Koko – with her leg in a cast.’
Cheered loudest for…‘Barack Obama.'
Jaw dropped to the floor when…‘I saw Dickie Beau’s Garland act for the first time. Absolutely stunning.’
Disappointed by…‘Almost everything released by bands starting with the word 'The'. Except The Cure.'
Trend of 2008?'Global economic meltdown.'
Prediction for 2009…'Mass suicide.'
Secret plans for 2009?‘Retirement.'Ruby Blues, showgirl
Highlight of 2008?‘Riding through the Trash City arena at Glasto on a giant, mutant, titanium hot rod driven by my fella, Mutoid Waste artist Joe Rush, before leaping down and playing a set with my band, Hooligan Night, accompanied by a four-armed robot drummer, realising that my life had just turned into a 2000AD comic!’
Cheered loudest for…‘When I woke up in a chintzy B&B in Blackpool where I'm currently working on the amazing Carnesky's Ghost Train, turning on the TV and discovering that Obama was America's new president.'
Jaw dropped to the floor when…‘I went to see Punch Drunk's Masque Of The Red Death – one of the most extraordinary theatrical productions I've ever seen. It took my breath away.'
Disappointed by…‘Not a lot this year… it's been pretty thrilling all round, although Boris becoming Mayor of London was a bit of a major let down!'
Trend of 2008?''80's cock rock.'
Prediction for 2009…'Super heroes.
Secret plans for 2009?‘I'm going to be launching my new show/secret weapon on the world in the form of a giant pink guitar you can ride like a motorbike, as well as starting work on a brand new Trash City extravaganza in a massive London venue!'Mike and Jennifer Hot Breath, karaoke hosts
Highlight?‘You Me Bum Bum Train. If only real life was that interesting.’
Cheered loudest for…‘Last ever running of the Walthamstow dogs.'
Jaw dropped to the floor when…'We watched Sam Bompas winning this year's Hot Breath 'Blame It On The Burgers' Hot Dog Eating Contest.'
Disappointed by…‘The lack of UK Gold Olympic Rhythmic Gymnastics.’
Trend of 2008?‘Bad burlesque.’
Prediction for 2009…'People who look like E.T.'
Secret plans for 2009?‘Get our index fingers surgically lengthened.'Scottee, performer
Highlight?‘Jumping in a Winnebago with the Queens of Noize and three hours later being on stage at Reading performing to thousands of people. Rock n Roll.'
Cheered loudest for…‘Jonny Woo’s new show, "Remix", at Bistrotheque.’
Jaw dropped to the floor when…'Me and Theo Adams mounted a 4X4 boat-thing, paraded around Glastonbury, and almost got blown up from a fuel spillage. Thank you to the man outside the Downlow for screaming 'PETROL LEAK!''
Disappointed by…‘The Arts Council. As always.’
Trend of 2008?‘Burlesque - lets hope it was a passing one.'
Secret plans for 2009?‘I'm working on a new dance/percussion project around mental health which will take up a lot of my life in 2009, as well as my new anti- cabaret experiment EAT YOUR HEART OUT!'
Tim Whitehead, agent
Highlight of 2008?‘Seeing Bourgeois & Maurice in August. I knew I’d just seen the future.’
Cheered loudest for…‘Justin Bond, for being both fierce and fearless, finding his own way and writing brilliant original songs. He’s only just begun.'
Jaw dropped to the floor when…'I saw The Tiger Lillies and Justin Bond on stage together for the first time, a match made in Hell. Their duet ‘Blow-jobs’ would make the perfect Christmas number one.'
Disappointed by…‘The Edinburgh Festival – rain, dull stand-up, rain, dull stand-up, rain etc…'
Trend of 2008?‘The camel toe jumpsuit as sported by US drag nightmare Dina Martina.’
Prediction for 2009…'Bourgeois and Maurice will take over the world – and the world will be a better place for it.'
Secret plans for 2009?‘Working with international cabaret chanteuse Meow Meow.’Gwendoline Lamour, burlesque performer
Highlight of 2008?'Filming for FLY 16x9 in NYC. In terms of shows, Edward Scissorhands at Sadler’s Wells. I love Matthew Bourne's work. See it whatever else you do.'
Cheered loudest for…‘Led Zeppelin and Mötley Crüe. What can I tell you? I’m a rock chick at heart.’
Jaw dropped to the floor when…'I saw Edward Scissorhands. It's ravishing.'
Disappointed by…‘The amount of lazy burlesque on stage – come on people, raise the bar.'
Trend of 2008?‘Burlesque! Ha ha!'
Prediction for 2009…‘Dancers with ukuleles.’
Secret plans for 2009?'A tour is beckoning, as are a couple of film opportunities and a book…'Paul L Martin, cabaret diva
Highlight of 2008?‘I had a great time during my debut gigs in Berlin this autumn, aided by the wonderful Bartuschka. She and I will be running high-profile shows in both London and Berlin next year to showcase the best cabaret talents from both.
Cheered loudest for…‘OBAMA!'
Jaw dropped to the floor when…'Joan Rivers told me I was adorable. It’s her eyes, you know...'
Disappointed by…‘Working at the Underbelly, Edinburgh. Twats.'
Trend of 2008?‘One last pithy year of greed, taking, blaming and eating a lot. And that was just me.'
Prediction for 2009…‘Marcus Brigstocke will take over television.'
Secret plans for 2009?'First new solo show in four years, coming to London in May. Oh, and the first annual Laundrette Cabaret Tour, of course!'
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