Best alternative nightlife of 2007
Time Out‘s Social Club diary has been full to bursting over the past 12 months – these were our hottest dates…
Clothes went on at the sound of the klaxon at Swap-a-Rama Razzmatazz in January – and they came right off again at Vauxhall’s nudist club Starkers. People smashed up tellies, fridges and computers with industrial-sized hammers in the name of a good night out at the Scrap Club, while dandies competed to make the best dry Martini without the aid of a butler at the Hendrick’s and Chaps Olympiad. Everyone wanted to be a Mexican wrestler thanks to Lucha Britannia, where blokes in tiny straps of Lycra and gimp masks oiled themselves up and threw each other around the Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club.
This was the year that alternative drag exploded in a riot of badly applied make-up and often profound performances. Jonny Woo survived hospital at the end of 2006 to perform in his first solo show in October, ‘International Woman of Mr-E’, and it knocked our socks clean off. Scottee stopped being half of Yr Mum Ya Dad and started being one of London’s most revolutionary cabaret performers. Taylor Mac flew in from New York to show that Americans do exciting drag too, while local boys Russella and Ryan Styles came up with outstanding new performance pieces. David Hoyle cemented his latter-day incarnation with the return of ‘Magazine’. Appropriately, Bistrotheque brought some of the scene’s most influential artists back. Lavina Co-op’s wonderful show sold out in July, and it was ex’squeeze-me sitting-room-only for the Cockettes screening in November.
Empress Stah caused jaws to drop through the Soho Revue Club floor with her utterly unique performance pieces.
Strut your stuff, girlfriend – voguing came back and it was fierce; we all talked about cult documentary ‘Paris Is Burning’ as though we had actually seen it. Despite the hype, the SingStar Vogue Ball ended up being a bit crap (although we loved Princess Xtravaganza). Crowds pleaded to get into Bistrotheque’s second annual drag ball at Shoreditch Town Hall; the House of FierceNest retained their crown but nothing – nothing! – exists without the House of Egypt.
Speed dating became weird dating thanks to nights like Goth’n’Rock Speed Dating, Board Game Dating, the Cut A Shine Barn Dating Night and Down With Dating’s Speed Hating rounds. Bingo went gay as blokes with beards called the balls – Jonny Woo’s Gay Bingo found a new home in Spitalfields while Timberlina started Bingo Pub Night at the RVT. We took classes in can-can dancing, nipple-pastie making and, erm, knitting. We’re predicting big things for crochet in 2008.
Step forward the cabaret duos. We raved about musical couture cabaret duo Bourgeois & Maurice, loved the accordion-playing Pearlsworld and whooped with joy when Pustra & Vile-een declared that ‘vaudeville’s time is now’. How right they were.
It wasn’t all good news, though. We were sad to see Viva Cake pack up its heaving trestle tables of cakes and there’s a 1920s-dressed hole in London’s nostalgia scene where The Rakehell’s Revels used to be.
London got its first Burlesque Festival thanks to Canadian promoter Chaz Royale – and put plenty of noses out of joint in the process – and Whoopee dedicated a Tournament of Tease to male burlesque talents. The Devil won, surely the sexiest damn devil ever there was. Hairy bears Bearlesque won legions of fans all over. As ever more girls stuck on nipple-pasties, we found ourselves wondering where burlesque could possibly go next. So four ladies put on London’s first early burlesque film festival called The Smoking Cabinet, and Whoopee went to Blackpool for a proper old school variety show like your gran might have gone to.
Top that, 2008.
Pick of the year
1 Jonny Woo’s ‘International Woman of Mr-E’Bistrotheque, October London’s alternative drag superstar was only ever going to be astonishing in his debut solo show.
2 Empress StahSoho Revue Bar, May & JuneUtterly and completely unique, Empress Stah showed that she stands heads and shoulders above the competition.
3 First Official UK iPod BattleBethnal Green WMC, MarchTables were danced on, voices screamed hoarse and last-minute entry MIA won this killer battle hands down. Vivent les Londoniens!
4 Lucha BritanniaBethnal Green WMC, monthlyOil me up, un hombre. Strange variety show performers provided the interlude at this Mexican wrestling night.
5 The Smoking CabinetCurzon Soho, DecemberInspired new festival of early burlesque films. Why didn’t someone think of that before?
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