Monday, August 13, 2012

La Reve, 10th August

I think I have burnt my bridges with Cafe De Paris. And it was all going so well...

Well, actually it wasn't. La Reve at the Cafe de Paris wasn't the most successful night. We arrived at the venue just a little after 8:30, when the show starts. The lady compere was just in the middle of a song from Chicago as we were shown to our seats. All the tables in the centre where people were also eating with their cabaret were taken but there were plenty of free booths and seats around the side and on the upper section. Cocktail menus were on the table and I took a sharp breath in when I saw the prices - £11 or £12 for some pretty standard cocktails. I don’t mind paying a little extra when I’m being served, say chocolate soil on the side, or a detonated balloon, but for a normal mai tai, that seemed a bit much. Instead, Stephen and I shared the cheapest bottle of red wine for £21, which was no great shakes either. Even Stephen, who is no wine connoisseur (not yet anyway) said he could tell this was of poor quality. 

There were three acts before the break – a strange take on a burlesque striptease from a woman who did a Flashdance-inspired striptease. There was a guy who showed quite an amazing aptitude for balancing which we were impressed by, but the best performers of the first half were a comedy duo I had already seen called Ginger and Black. She’s ginger, he’s black. They do silly songs that can take on an incredibly dark tone. I found them just as funny as the first time I saw them, though wasn’t convinced this was the best showcase for them and wasn’t sure if the rest of the audience really appreciated them.

There was then a short break for refreshments, and the compere came on again and did another song. We were then treated to a magic/comedy/mime act which was faintly amusing. I did quite enjoy the joke about answering a dating ad to find it had been placed by a goose (single, white female). Then there was the act all those looking for some titialltion had come to see – a proper burlesque striptease complete with feather boa and wildly rotating nipple tassels.

The finale was a masculine take on rope work. It was nice to see a guy doing this for a change, and he used chains to climb and wrap around himself instead of ropes. I think this must be considered quite a show-stopping feat in the cabaret world as the Boom Boom Club finished on a rope act as well. And while it is impressive, I think ending on a striptease or something like that is more spectacular.

Individually we knew that the performers were talented, but unfortunately the show as a whole left most of us, who had been at Prospero’s Tavern the week before, underwhelmed. The set up for a start wasn’t great as the acts felt very far removed from us, unlike at the Wonderground where they were in the midst of everyone. You felt like you could have easily ignored what was going on – it didn’t impose its presence like it should. Perhaps this is a shortcoming of the venue rather than the show being put on. Also, it didn’t feel like a complete show – it was just individual act after individual act, with nothing but the compere introducing them. We missed the theatre of the Boom Boom Club.

On the upside, the interior of Cafe de Paris was splendid. I don't mean that in a 'this is jolly good, rather' kind of way, I mean it as pertaining to having splendour. I had never even noticed it before but I would have passed it countless times as it is just by Leicester Square. Part of the reason I wanted to come was for the venue itself – it has a history of putting on cabaret and the like since its inception. So, it was nice to have been a little part of its history. 

We were told toward the end of the show that we would have to vacate our table when the show was over. Our tickets include entry to the ‘after party’ but evidently this doesn't mean you can keep the table you’re on. Our had been reserved for the after show and we were pretty promptly kicked off it when the show finished, even though whoever had reserved it didn’t turn up the whole time we were there. This marked the transformation of this place from a pleasant burlesque soiree to a hideous typical West End club.  It felt like a travesty to put such a gorgeous, quirky (it is modeled on the Titanic) venue to such use. We expected the after party to somewhat match the show in tone and music but no, all pretence at being cabaret was gone and instead the place was full of commercial electropop and RnB. To be fair, I don’t mind this kind of music after having a few drinks but it’s not at all what we were expecting given the show and once the place started to fill up with young, skinny girls in 4 inch heels and white, backless dresses, we knew it was time to leave.

We went to collect Stephen’s bag but unfortunately he had lost his ticket. I find cloakroom attendants to be generally surly and begrudging at the best of times but the lady at this one took it to another level. I know it must be annoying when people lose their tickets, but when the club has barely opened, and two reasonably, not inebriated people are doing their best to help you try to find it, is there really any need for any attitude? I think no, but she clearly thought otherwise. I helpfully managed to dreg out from the recesses of my memory the ticket number, only to be told that ticket number didn’t exist. When the bag was finally found, lo and behold! The ticket number managed the one I had told her. Obviously not wishing to lose face, she tried to insist that wasn’t what I had said at all in the first place. She was very unpleasant and I may have told her so in no uncertain terms, which is why I don't think I'd better go back there. Luckily, I have no intention of doing so. Having already had sinking estimations of the place, that was the final nail in the coffin. Given their location and renown I’m sure they don’t have to bother with good customer service and see a steady stream of tourists and young girls who don’t know any better. I won't be joining them again.

Square Meal

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I work as an editor in educational publishing by day, and then spend most of my spare time discovering interesting things to do in London, and taking people there with my own Meetup.