Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Come Back to the Cabaret; Now There CAN Be More to a Night out Than Getting Drunk

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Come Back to the Cabaret; Now There CAN Be More to a Night out Than Getting Drunk

Article excerpt

Byline: MATT POTTER

APPARENTLY London now has quite a cool cabaret scene," I tell my German girlfriend. It made her laugh so hard her coffee came out through her nose, which wasn't quite the intention. I'm my own worst enemy. You could tell a Brit that the five new cabaret clubs in London constitute a) a scene, and b) a cool one, but the lady in question - like all four friends I've invited along to one of those clubs - are from Berlin. Yes, Berlin, the cabaret centre of the world "Oh, ja, a London kabarett!" she giggles through the latte. "This is where the glamorous transvestite siren in the top hat will do some drunken football hooligan chanting, ha ha!"

As it turns out, by the end of our night at Bethnal Green Working Men's Club, far stranger things had happened. In hindsight, the club's website had warned one act will "make you cack your pants".

There is something very British about cabaret Bethnal Green-style.

There are different events on all the time, often with a burlesque theme, Forties and Fifties-style bands, comedy and even a bit of striptease.

Once a month is Viva Cake (next one is 7 October), where doors open at 4.30pm for tea, cakes and rollerskating waitresses. But the Saturday we were there was a bog-standard (if you can call it that) cabaret night starting at 9pm. It costs a fiver to get in and the place looks brilliant - Formica walls and Seventies decor, with a giant heart shape of red light bulbs behind the stage. The room is quite small and packed with people dressed as Fifties spivs in spats, feather boas everywhere and New Romantics in their finery.

A hush descends and seven women stand up, stretch their arms out and sing "Aaaah" for a few minutes. They stand on one leg. To finish, they sigh and one does a forward roll. It's not quite Dita von Teese but it gets better, and thanks to the phenomenally cheap bar, we get drunker.

Other acts include The Irrepressibles, who play madrigals wearing only tights and origami codpieces.

Soon my ice-cool Berliners are chanting along as hooliganishly as the rest. And well they might - this is silly, pretentious, funny and serious, all at once. …

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