Wednesday, October 30, 2013
The Katzenjammer Club, 19th October
Do you want the good news or the bad news? Well, tough. I'm starting with the good news.
Which is that the launch night of the Katzenjammer Club was a huge success and a really good evening. I enjoyed all of the acts I saw - they were top quality and if this becomes a regular night (and I hear that it will) then it will be a worthy addition to the cabaret scene. I even enjoyed the catwalk of latexwear put on and I'm not remotely into fashion. As with normal catwalk styles, I wouldn't wear any of it in real life, but it did look interesting and beautiful on the models.
The delicious Dusty Limits was the consummate host tying the night together and providing some of the entertainment as well. (Perhaps a little too much - I would probably have preferred another act over Dusty singing again, though I did enjoy his version of Space Oddity, with everyone joining in the claps with gusto).
I hadn't seen Florian Brooks before and didn't know what to expect from his act. He first came on and enchanted us with a 'simple' dance with his cane and hat, moving fluidly around the stage, balancing each with almost perfection. His second foray was a juggling act which was just as entertaining. It seems almost unbelievable with the number of cabaret and circus type events I've been to but juggling has never featured before. When it's done this well - it should!
I also really enjoyed one half of the Gorey Cabinet, Mr Pustra, doing a Klaus Nomi 'impression' with a massive latex tuxedo on (which I believe was similar to if not the same as one worn by Nomi). I knew nothing about Klaus Nomi, I can only say that as a performance it was impressive and I would like to see more.
The absolute best bit of the night, however, must be credited to the Roustabouts DJ Mark R. Charade because the music was the star of the show. Everyone agreed they absolutely loved the mashups of 80s (and earlier) electro and new romanticism with modern pop. Blondie was mashed with the Stranglers. David Bowie was mashed with the Pussycat Dolls. Justin Timberlake featured. It was an infectious combination that really made you want to dance. And, as the night wore on, everyone certainly did! The music segued from the darker 80s stuff to mostly contemporary, more poppy crowd-pleasing songs that went down a treat with everyone on the dance floor. People only stopped dancing when they were forced to by the club shutting. I think, that had the layout been a bit different, that the dancing would have started much sooner, in between performances. As it was stools and chairs took up much of the dance floor area while the performances were taking place.
Which brings me to 'the bad news' - the venue itself. Actually, that is misleading. The venue did suit the evening, being in Central London in a building linked to the glamorous Centre Point, a members bar felt right for the event. However, it was quite small and the layout was all wrong. I missed at least two of the acts, simply because I couldn't see them. Luckily I had seen the Ungewinster perform before but I was gutted that all I could see of the Gorey Cabinet's act was some red balloons every now and again. If you wanted to see anything, you had to find a spot while everyone else went to the bar and then stay there. I did this for some of the acts but I also wanted to explore (and get a drink) and thus ended up not seeing some of the show. The area immediately before the stage was given over to sofas and stools (some of which had been reserved) so for most people it was standing room only. Except that most of this standing room was to the side of the stage so if you weren't in the first row, you couldn't really see anything. I don't mind standing if I'm not early enough to get a seat, but if I've paid for a show which has performances, I think I should be able to see those performances at the very least! The room itself is rather narrow so there is probably not a huge amount that could be done, except for maybe doing away with any seating at all. This would at least encourage people to dance between performances (which we were dying to do anyway)!
As a launch night it was great, no real teething problems apart from the viewing issue, which they might be able to improve in future. Apartment 58 had never played host to a night like this before so there were bound to be some things to iron out. I think the Roustabouts deserve a big conratulations for coming up with something fun and different in the cabaret world.