Thursday, April 25, 2013

Electro Swing, 20th April

Sometimes you go on a night out and it is so exhilarating it leaves you smiling all the next day. Electro Swing on Saturday night was a night like that.

Now, I do think a lot of credit has to go to the people I was out with - a lovely bunch who were up for making the most of the night and not afraid to get dancing. People after my own heart. But the music on the night must take it’s due.

Vintage nights are all the rage at the moment, and most have some sort of musical aspect to them – music from the era, or more likely, modern songs done in a vintage style. Electro swing takes that and turns it on its head. It uses vintage music – swing, jazz – and puts modern beats behind it. Any kind of modern beat will work as long as it is skilfully done. So, after a slightly out of character ease in with The Cure’s The Love Cats, we gradually entered the world of Electro Swing – a world where you could easily be dancing to a classic house beat one minute, then a jungle track the next, all with this slightly surreal old-timey music over the top. It’s very high energy, it’s infectious, the crowd loved it and so did I. And anyone remember the Doop song? I didn’t until it cropped up in the set either. It fit in seamlessly with the ethos of the night.

Upstairs, was a quasi-silent disco happening. It wasn’t silent, but there were headphones being handed out (if you were lucky enough to get one) that you could wear on whichever floor you wanted and tune in to either the music being played at the bar or the electro swing downstairs. I thought this was a little odd, as one of the fun things about being in a silent disco is the silent part when you take your headphones off, but whatever, people seemed to be enjoying themselves.

Downstairs in the increasingly sweaty basement where the main event was taking place, there was a makeshift stage in front of the DJs which people eagerly clambered onto. The place was absolutely rammed. It’s clearly a popular night – it used to happen monthly at the Book Club but they seemed to have taken a sabbatical from it for a while – I kept my eyes peeled for months before I noticed they were back and perhaps it was so full as people were making the most of this rare opportunity. Or perhaps it is just a testament to the popularity of The Book Club, no matter what night is on.

And now, please join me in a rant...

As I have attested before, I have a bit of a love affair with The Book Club. I love the variety of nights it holds, the venue is cool, the street parties it hosts are fun. But that love affair has soured somewhat.  For while Electro Swing exceeded all expectations, leaving me with a surplus of good vibes, The Book Club failed to live up to my own expectations and seriously marred my evening, due to the rather puzzling behaviour of the head door man.

Last night was actually a Meetup I was hosting and I had already entered the club with around 20 or so people but a few people had yet to join us. I got a text from one of them saying they weren't being allowed entry.

There had been a misunderstanding about how the three of them knew each other and for some reason this was cause enough to deny them entry. Naturally they weren't very happy about this as they had done nothing wrong. Everyone knows you cannot antagonise the door staff; sadly, they hold all the power and it doesn't matter how irrational, or how petty or how just plain wrong they are, they have the final call on whether your night sinks or swims. And should you have the gall to voice your opinion on their behaviour within ear shot, then apparently that is also a valid enough reason to refuse you entry (presumably because their feelings have been hurt - bouncers seem to be unnaturally thin-skinned). I had come out and explained what the situation was – but to deaf ears. The bouncer had been ‘insulted’ and no explanation or even apology would persuade him to change his mind. There was no one else I was allowed to talk to about this. It didn’t matter that if he'd been reasonable to begin with, no angry words would have been uttered at all. In any other customer-facing arena the fact that once the situation was explained and he could see that he’d been in the wrong, we would have probably, in fact, been let in and offered an apology. But no, not when it comes to door staff.

I was in a bit of a bind – I had 20-odd other people whose night I didn’t want to spoil by taking them out of the Book Club, with no Plan B, or I had to let these three go off and try to find something else to do – three people I felt responsible for. In the end they went with good grace towards me, luckily Shoreditch isn’t short of places who would welcome their custom. But it left a bitter taste in my mouth and it took me a while before the magic of Electro Swing could sway me out of the funk. There is a lot to be said for how much feelings of frustration and injustice can prey on you.

I know the Book Club isn’t the only venue guilty of having bouncers that are Little Caesars. If I swore never to set foot in any venue at which I'd been less than impressed by the door staff I would spend most of my Saturday nights drinking in my flat. But I will certainly pause for thought before going here again, and if any other venue is holding a similar night, I would choose that venue over this. Perhaps the disappointment is greater because I had held the Book Club in such high regard.

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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.