Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Die Freche Muse, 27th July

I have wanted to go to Die Freche Muse for the longest time, and managed to get to the one on Saturday, which was the last ever Die Freche Muse. It was a bit of an anticlimax, but perhaps that is inevitable when I had more than a year of anticipation.

Die Freche Muse hosts parties in various venues with themes ranging from the 20s to 60s. For its final night, dress code was 20s to 40s and fabulous! Well, it was the last one. The entertainment apparently started at 10:45 and we didn't want to miss any of the acts so we only had a couple of drinks in a bar I'd suggested but I would have happily spent the rest of my night there if we didn't already have other engagements. I had never been to Bar 23 before but I enjoyed it; the drinks were reasonably priced and they were playing music I really liked - from Lykke Li to Whitney Houston. The environs were even appropriate for our garb with a gramophone and antique-looking clock on the wall, even if the music was incongruous to our clothing. 

At about half ten we ventured to find the Dalston Boys' Club, a venue I had never heard of before Die Freche Muse hosted the party there. I met someone inside who told me that the building was owned by the host's parents, who also own an antique store on Brick Lane. It showed. The place had been kitted out with a mixture of antiques and peculiarities. The owners could have held an account at Viktor Wynd's Little Shop of Horrors with all the taxidermied animals on show, and off-the-wall mannequins all over the place. 

It felt amazing just to be in the venue, with everyone looking beautiful and sexy. I felt I could have been at a "bright young thing's" private party, where the drink and food was lavished on us while we all pretended to be too frivolous/bored to watch the entertainment. In some ways, this is a very accurate description, although the drinks weren't free. They were exceptionally well priced though (double spirit and mixer for £5!!) and there was free cake and biscuits throughout the night of which I availed myself several times.

The ground floor was the main space where there was the bar and an area under the indoor balcony where the microphone was set up and a little area where the acts could perform. Weirdly, this was also where, to the right, the ladies ONE toilet was situated, so that while you were queuing (and there was always a queue, what with their only being the ONE ladies toilet) you felt like you were 'backstage'. You actually had some of the best views of the acts if you timed your bathroom break propitiously.

Up above, as I said, there was a balcony all around, and, apparently, a roof terrace and the host's private apartments, which, if you stuck around long enough, he would sometimes open up. We either didn't stay long enough or Saturday was not one of those nights.

Downstairs was the smoking area, or basement, upon whose back wall, 20s porn was being projected. I was rather enjoying the lady being spanked (rapidly of course, all movements in old films are rapid) until someone moved the projector to beam into the corner and you could no longer make anything out. Back up I went.

The first act didn't come on for at least an hour after advertised. She was a lithe singer, with a repertoire of songs from years gone by. They started off a little slowly, and really rather quietly. The rabble either didn't know she was on or didn't care for they weren't exactly muted when she was doing her set. Also, the stage was simply another area on the floor - not raised at all, and to the side, so that if you wanted to see anything and were under 5 feet 5 you had to be quite determined to get to the front. We were, and so were able to hear the songs and I thought they were pretty good. Towards the end the tempo picked up and we danced along a little. 

The night moved slowly though and I think suffered because of it. The acts all came on later than the host would promise and while they were good, it wasn't really loud enough or lively enough to command attention, or to get people dancing. Neither was the music played between sets, and each time the host took the mic he implored people to dance and everyone just carried on standing or sitting around sipping their drinks.

As the night wore on the crowd started to thin and it was much easier to see those on 'stage'. The final acts were burlesque, culminating in the same opening act doing a performance based on the Head of John the Baptist. 
She also had some beautiful large white feathers which fanned glitter all over her, and consquently all over whoever was standing near her, and I rather enjoyed that. There was quite a good fire eater (who I saw from the prime position of the toilet queue) and the burlesque stripteases were performed by women whose bodies were sublime. But it really was a case of admiring the female form, rather than the ingenuity of the acts. They didn't quite live up to the standard I've seen elsewhere, or maybe it was just the setting. Either way, I was a little disappointed. 

The final act finished at 3:30 and then we were all invited to stay and dance and drink more. Normally I would have wanted to do just that and see where the night took us, but I think the slow pace of the night had worn me down. Those of my friend group who had stuck it out were ready to go by then. 

So yes, I loved the venue, I will definitely keep an eye on whatever they might allow to take place there in future, and I loved the feel of the evening - being part of a privileged set, in grand surroundings feeling like you were almost at a wild party. I felt similarly at the Last Tuesday Society's party. But the reality was that it wasn't all that wild and that was a little disappointing. I don't mind so much now that I didn't get to any of the previous nights, though I liked it enough to keep an eye on whatever else they might be involved with. 

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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.