Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Leyshon Brothers, 2nd February

Saturday night was the last night of Leyshon Brothers' bonded warehouse (for now) so in some ways there's not a lot of point in me blogging about it because you can no longer go. However, when I put it on the list as soon as I heard of it, I didn't realise they were about to enter their last week of existence. And if it's on the List, blog I must. Also, it has been so successful by all accounts, that I would bet money that they will return in some other guise at some point.

We were told to arrive by 8 and say the password to the man on the door. It's all meant to be very hush hush. Of course, by the time we arrived, there was something of a queue and we didn't even have to utter the  secret phrase to be let through the gates.

(c) Carolyn Mundie
As we went in we were given tickets to one of the 'shows' and told to explore. I must admit, of all the vintage-themed nights I have been to, I have never felt like I was stepping back in time so completely. The cobbled lanes, the shabby decor and the effort to which the 'punters' had gone with their garb. As you wandered these Victorian streets you passed the Sloe Gin Snug where Francesco entertained us as he concted our sloe gin and prosecco cocktails. 

We then made our way past the street games on offer and up into the Queen Victor pub where a range of more usual drinks were on offer and a magician was meandering through the crowd performing some impressive close-up magic. I stood right there as he made cards and coins appear, change and disappear in my friends' hands. And I can honestly say I have no idea how he does it. Well, I have an idea, but under close scrutiny, it was impossible to see how the trick was achieved.

(c) Carolyn Mundie

After a quick bout of street games where I failed to throw the penny on the plate and thus win myself a prize, we went over to see what was going on in the 'Music Hall'. This was where the shows were taking place and the first one was just starting. Not wanting to end up seeing it twice, we made our way back to the other side to wait our turn (we had a ticket for the second show).

Unfortunately, once we'd played the street games, there was very little entertainment on the pub side. It was cool being in such Victorian surroundings but once you'd explored everything the only thing left to do was drink as you would normally in any pub. They had a fortune teller on hand but she was apparently so thorough with everyone the wait was something like an hour. And it didn't really sound like her fortunes would have convinced me to believe in the paranormal.

Soon enough 10 pm rolled around and we went over to take our seats in the Music Hall for the show. It started with a sing-a-long with the old Joanna, singing coarsely to modern pop songs like Madness. There was a little burlesque skit (not as high quality as that at the Boom Boom Club, say), plus the magician we'd seen earlier working the crowd, and a strong man. Sitting towards the back, I have to say that I didn't know how impressed to be with the strong man - the materials he was bending could have been floppy plastic for all we knew. But, luckily, my friends were sitting near the front and brought his finished works out with them - some pretty tough stuff. I was impressed. 

The finale of the evening was a rather eccentric act to say the least. A man with clear operatic talents serenaded the crowd... while stripping down... to nothing but a balloon banana and a pair of balloon testicles. Which he duly popped. 

After the show was over, the entire crowd was rounded up into the music hall for a patriotic sing-song. Being only half-Brit myself, I was at a loss for most of these songs. I've never sung Jerusalem in my life, and only vaguely know God Save the Queen and Rule Britannia. The rest of the crowd were doing a rousing job though, being lead alternately by a 'cockney geeza' and the opera singer (who treated the crowd to a literally dazzling view of his particulars, all trussed up with lights, before donning clothes once more, much to our relief).

And then the evening ran its natural course culminating, of course, in a DJ spinning the decks on the gramophones. I didn't know what a penchant the Victorians had for 70s disco! To be honest, it's not my favourite music in the world but it was good for getting the crowd going and I'll take most any opportunity to have a dance. 

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