Thursday, December 20, 2012

Mousetrap...for Soul Shakers, 15th December

I didn't really think places like this existed. But I'm ever so glad they do.

I had a very detailed image in my mind of what I expected the venue to look like. I knew it was a wine bar and I basically imagined it as looking like Concrete in Shoreditch, but with wood panelling and low lights everywhere instead of, well, concrete.

It wasn't quite like this. Not quite the sleek, imposing wine bar, more of an underground little cavern. And by little I mean tiny. I don't think I have ever been to such a tiny club.

We arrived at a little after 11, in order to avoid having to pay a whole 2 pounds more after midnight than the 8 pounds we did pay to get in. It wasn't heaving as yet, but there were definitely quite a few people in there already, and more than a few of these were already on the dance floor. And they were really giving it some - authentic, willowy 60s dancing galore  in a way that seemed not quite on the beat that could only have been the result of a lot of practice. We almost felt guilty joining the dance floor and thus depriving them of the necessary room to throw down their shapes,. But this is probably why they got there so early - to have the luxury of having the whole dance floor to themselves while they could.

The bar was small and served usual pub drinks - as one of my friends was quick to point out, that meant no cocktails. Prices were normal for London bars - not cheap, but not inflated club prices.

It is touted as a Northern Soul night, and there were definitely a lot of people there who were very much into the scene, wearing clothes I can only assume were authentic vintage. But we didn't feel out of place as 'tourists' there, and all the staff were incredibly friendly. Take the cloakroom attendant below, for instance, who took his time to smooth out the creases and hang each and every coat with decorum.

You got the feeling that it's like a big family here, with a lot of regulars who know each other, and the staff. Well, it has been going 20-odd years in the same place! The night we went it was the DJ's birthday and there was free cake on the bar!

The music was fantastic. Mostly Northern Soul as expected but with some jazzier numbers thrown in. I hold my hands up - I didn't recognise a single song, but I didn't stop dancing. I've been places with better soundsystems (this is certainly no Funktion 1 a la Fabric), but if genuine soul and original R'n'B is what you're after then I think you'd be hard pressed to find a better night.

I really felt I'd been transported back in time to the heady days of the swinging 60s with all the hip cats and kittens. Groovy! (or another, probably more authentic slang of your choosing).

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Please feel free to add your views, or maybe suggest somewhere I should put on my list!