Thursday, April 26, 2012

White Mischief, 21 April

White Mischief is like a variety show revue for the modern era and those who are alternatively-inclined. Similarly to Rumpus, it indulges in the popular Steampunk genre, and encourages - though doesn’t enforce - revellers to get creative and dress up. Most of the crowd, I would wager, need minimal encouragement. 

I mention Rumpus because I know the two have affiliations with 
each other – ‘creatures’ who had attended the recent Rumpus party were eligible for a discount for tickets to White Mischief. But they’re quite different beasts. The focus of Rumpus is dancing, with some other bits thrown in here and there. With White Mischief, the focus of the night is entertainment. You are there to watch a show, although dancing is high on the agenda. There are actual set times for each of the acts, the first of which kicks off at about 10:30 and then follow each other back to back until 2 am, with the compere coming on between acts to introduce and stoke up the crowd. The acts were varied – a brass band that did a fantastic cover of Radiohead’s National Anthem, a lady doing rope acrobatics, two magicians, and two people whose sanity might be questioned when you consider one was hula hooping with a ring of fire in her undies and another was angle grinding on metal knickers. And then the final act, a rousing band that is hard to pin down to a genre called Tankus the Henge.

But this was just downstairs. The event was held in Scala, which is a great venue – a goodsize that feels intimate but not crowded. Downstairs is the stage with all the main acts. But there was also an upstairs with another bar and an area for dancing and other distractions such as little stalls selling alternative and steampunk trinkets, and a Victotian photo parlour. They were playing ‘vintage jazz’ up here but later in the evening moved on to rock n roll which could be heard both upstairs and in the downstairs bar.  You might also bump into some weird and wonderful ‘things’ wandering amidst the crowd – Exploreres from Oblivia (below) and a lady with a snake - and the fire hula hooper hot stepped it upstairs to have some fun ‘offduty’ wowing the dancers with her hooping while dancing shimmying.

There were more stalls downstairs, selling things but also advertising other events such as the Steampunk happening in Tooley Street next weekend. There was also another mini stage, and after the last act finished on the main stage, the brass band (Perhaps Contraption - below) trooped in and set up on this little stage, treating those who were at the bar to a repeat performance. 

As I said, the night is more about the acts than discoing, and when the final band called it a night, the dancefloor emptied noticably and the whole venue’s population decreased. I stayed around for a bit longer, and would have stayed for longer still, as after the band finished, the DJ came on and I cannot fault the music. They were playing songs that everyone would know, but with a grimy, bassy touch to them, which made me itch to dance. The first song was a mashup of two of everybody’s favourite’s – Black Betty and Everybody Dance Now, then they played a remix of Heads Will Roll by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and a mashup of No Limits and Love Shack. Brilliant!

I had tweeted White Michief to say that after Rumpus I was looking forward to their night. They replied to warn that it wasn’t as crazy as Rumpus. They were right – Rumpus feels anarchic, whereas White Mischief has more structure to the night. But they’re not meant to be the same thing – they don’t compete, they complement, and I liked them both for what they were. The next full White Mischief night isn’t until October now, which is a great shame, though there are other events through the summer. 

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