Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Black Cotton Club, 20th July

On Saturday night I stepped back in time (again) when I went to the Black Cotton Club at Volupte. It's another night steeped in vintageness with people dressed in either 20s flapper gear or 30s-40s costume. But this is no pop-culture wink to the olden days. This feels like the real deal. Almost everyone was dressed up and all the songs played are from original 45s. For me, it made it probably my least favourite of the 20s-style nights. I have realised I do like a bit of modernity to my vintage nights out. I like the swinging jazz of the early century but when you're not an aficionado, after a while, all the songs sound a bit samey, especially when there are no vocals. And I managed to miss dancing to one song I actually did know - 'Why Don't You Do Right?' as made famous by Jessica Rabbit. 

It was clear that the people who came were regulars of the scene and were there to show off their moves, while we helplessly shuffled our feet in imitation of the steps they were committing flawlessly. I recognised one guy from the 50s night at South London Pacific - well it's hard not to remember a guy dressed in a shirt and multicoloured tutu with a sock puppet on his hand! 


I still do love to watch people who know how to dance - the fast steps look amazing but I equally like the slower moves which look so effortless, like they're not even meaning to move so fluidly. I always resolve I must start learning myself. But I haven't and so after a while the novelty did wear off.

It didn't help that the night was so unbearably hot and they didn't exactly have air conditioning - a couple of strategically placed fans stopped people from completely overheating. I confess, my group rather hogged one of the fans, I don't know if the other dancers would have even realised it was there, one of us was always in front of it cooling down. It was less busy than I expected, and I wondered if the heat perhaps was a factor. 

The venue was in an unlikely building. It is down the side of a bunch of office blocks and from the outside is nothing to look at. Inside it is rather gorgeous with risque wallpaper, quite a glamorous bathroom and heavy drapes and pretty lamps everywhere - these of course are all to remind you of the fact that Volupte's day job is a burlesque venue. 

We got in at 10:30ish and with an hour or so break at about 1 to cool down and save our feet, we left at 2:30 when the night finished at 3:00 anyway. So it kept our attention for most of the night. If you're looking for authenticity then this really is not to be missed. If you prefer playing at it, like me, then I'd suggest the Candlelight Club, or Prohibition which are livelier.

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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.