The Actionettes



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Time Out shakes its stuff with infectious, inclusive girl dance team and club promoters The Actionettes

  • The Actionettes

    'Ette-ntion!' The Actionettes report for '60s dance troupe duty © James McCauley

  • How were The Actionettes formed?

    ‘There are few original members left, but founders Sue and Sarah Todd (aka Miss Crepe Suzette and Miss Tourette) saw The Devilettes in Las Vegas and decided the UK needed an all-girl ’60s dance troupe that celebrated women of all shapes and sizes. We’d love to have a transatlantic dance-off with The Devilettes!’

    How many Actionettes are there?

    ‘Probably sixteen, but some have taken a break due to work or family commitments. There are 12 full-time members. Our jobs aren’t anything to do with performing, though: among our number we have a web designer, editors, teachers, a hotel receptionist, writers and healthcare professionals. Our names come about after some brainstorming and include our personal loves and USPs. For example, Miss Balconette has an enviable embonpoint, Miss Castanette is Spanish and Miss Tourette swears like a sailor.’

    Can anybody join The Actionettes?

    ‘If they’re a girl! We have a brother group, the Action Men, who sometimes perform with us. They’re currently recruiting, so fellas, get in touch. Anyone can join, although we’re not looking for new members at the moment. All you need is rhythm, a love of ’60s music and the ability to commit to rehearsals and gigs.’

    What are the classic Actionette songs?

    ‘A quick straw poll of the ’Ettes indicates that our general faves are Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made For Walking”, Melba Moore’s “Magic Touch”, and Dusty Springfield’s “Love Power”. Miss Rockette loves “Have Love Will Travel” by Thee Headcoatees, Miss Castanette goes crazy to “Stop, Look and Listen” by The Chiffons and old-fashioned girl Miss Roulette kicks up her heels to “Too Many Fish in the Sea” by The Marvelettes.’

    You’re very specific about being ‘strictly amateur’. Why’s that?

    ‘We’re not trained dancers but instead all share a love of music and of dancing the night away. Any money from performances goes back into the fund to pay for essentials such as cava, cabs, and new dresses.’

    Where do you get your costumes from?

    ‘Some we make ourselves, others we inherit from former Actionettes, and a few come from a lifetime of trawling secondhand shops. Often it’s down to luck. While on Actionette business in Rome, we stumbled across a job lot of red frocks covered in giant sequins, marked down from €250 to 15! We bought 12. Instant matching outfits!’

    Fanzine groups, DJ groups, knitting groups… Girls seems to be forming groups like never before.

    ‘Third-wave feminism encourages women to create and form networks, and I like to think we’re a feminist concept: inclusive, pro-women, fun rather than titillating. Things like Ladyfest (which we’ve danced at and helped organise) and Girls Rock! UK, a rock camp for eight to 18-year-olds, encourage a feeling of community among women, which can only be a good thing. Women want and can have more these days, and if, like me, you can’t be in a band there are so many other things to do if you put your mind to it. Girls rock and it took us this long to realise! We don’t want to be watchers, we want to do things.’

    What can people expect at your night?

    ‘Our night is one of the friendliest clubs there is. When you have 12 girls putting on a club, playing and dancing to music that they love, it rubs off on the audience! It’s good old-fashioned live entertainment – dancing girls, competitions and DJs.’ The Actionettes present Nuns-A-Go-Go at the Pleasure Unit this Saturday

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