Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Once Upon a Time... 20th February

New clubnights pop up at a breakneck speed and when I heard about Once Upon a Time… at the Fairground, I thought it sounded perfect fodder for my Meetup group. It  was also being held at the Bussey building (over all floors) which is a cool venue so I took the group along to check it out.

As you can imagine from the title it was a bit of a mish mash of circus and fairground. Dressing up for either theme was optional, some people did but I think most people didn’t.

We went for a pre-drink at the coolest bar in this part of town – Bar Story. We sat outside next to their firepit so I didn’t see much of the inside but it was your general, stripped back, railway arch kind of bar, serving fashionable cocktails such as penicillins and negronis at the kinds of prices you’d expect to pay in South London - £7 or so. The cocktail was good but considering I live in East London it’s not the sort of place I would schlep over to Peckham solely for.

We traipsed over to the club at about 11 where it still felt like the party was warming up. On the bottom floor a pretty good ska-punk band was playing, while upstairs they had the fairground games and photobooth. There was almost no one on this floor so we bypassed this for the very top where the Freakshow and Musical Bingo were taking place. Musical Bingo put on one of their most fun shows I have been to – not only did we get the great music to dance to and cross off our bingo cards, but we were treated to little performances that roughly matched the songs. Of course they had chosen fairground/circus themed songs to play and Ditzy Ritzy was dressed as a bearded lady. Ride a white horse saw our host getting piggybacked by an assistant, and we had people doing synchronized acrobatics and all sorts. After this I was well up for a party. But they had more! The ‘freakshow’ part of the show – where we had the ever naughty Dot Cotton perform her unique clownery, and we also had Sir Leopold Alexsander performing his Strong Man act, as well as just a random performance involving a woman with a lot of balloons bouncing around and popping them. It was at the point when a rather lacklustre magician came on that I chose to explore the other floors.

The second floor was again mostly empty and rather devoid of atmosphere so I went to the ground floor and that’s where I stayed. I must admit, it was a little strange. They were playing hip hop, grime, RnB, drum n bass and I think a lot of the crowd were normal clubbers who expected this kind of thing from a club on a Friday night. Certainly a good portion of the crowd seemed surprised when the music changed tack and suddenly a woman with a big snake came on stage and started stripping! Her show was pretty good but I didn’t think this mix worked so well – the acts felt like interruptions to the dancing (or vice versa for some people), and while I love that kind of music, I don’t think it’s necessarily what people who came to this event for its ‘alternative’ side expected. It was definitely a departure from the live band earlier – I had thought there would be more of this. Unless of course I missed it all when I was upstairs playing bingo.

Whenever I went through the second floor it was empty and so I thought they had been a little overambitious by hiring the whole venue. The fairground games were almost hidden away and when I went no one was playing them.


I did enjoy that there was a bit of walkabout performance going on – we were greeted by stilt walkers, and there was what can only be described as a drunk clown who appeared all over the place with his balloons. Overall I had a really fun night and I will be interested to see what they have lined up next, apparently it is Once Upon a Time – at Sin City. Sounds interesting…

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About Me

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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.