Friday, February 23, 2007

Burlesque Magnet?

While I've been slowly emerging from the surreal and slightly sordid haze that is the Lost Vagueness experience, my life seems to have rather spookily taken a turn for the burlesque... On Wednesday, at a wake of all places, I got chatting to a girl who turned out to be a can-can dancer in her spare time. We enthused over LV, and other similar events with which her troup is involved - and promised to keep in touch. Then last night I was in my local, The Barley Mow in Kemptown, for the regular pub quiz, and found myself sat next to one of the ex-barmaids who, it transpires, is now an erotic dancer with conjuring aspirations! She practised one of her latest card-tricks on me (I was duly impressed), and regaled me with flamboyant tales of nipple-pyrotechnics and public nudity. Having swiftly dispensed with the usual tedious ice-breaking period, we ended up joining forces for the quiz, and bonded over our shared passion for corsetry, travesty and exhibitionism. It was certainly a quiz to remember, even though we only came second (I blame the charmingly distracting prescence of my new friend). I'm starting to feel as though the spirit of Lost Vagueness is following me... perhaps tonight I'll end up on the dancefloor with some fire-eating stilt-walkers? Now that would be amusing...

Links
Ministry of Burlesque
Marlborough Theatre
Les Ooh La Las

Monday, February 19, 2007

A Night of Debauchery

On Saturday I went to my first ever Lost Vagueness event up in London. A twisted, burlesque club/cabaret night, LV started as an alternative sideshow at Glastonbury festival a few years back and has evolved into one of the most esteemed outfits on the alternative entertainment scene, laying on various events and festivals throughout the year, at which literally anything goes. My LV virginity was taken at the latest of these, The Valentine's Day Massacre, held at The Coronet in Elephant & Castle. Being a fancy dress afficionado, I was especially excited at the prospect of partying with like-minded costume-loving show-offs, and I wasn't disappointed. An exotic array of apparel presented itself as we entered, with everything from cyber-goth to theatrical/vintage style outfits being worn with confidence by the eclectic crowd. There was also plenty of exposed flesh, and no shortage of ripped stockings and smudged make-up, and this was before things had even really got going! My costume comprised a slinky Victoriana-inspired ensemble, along with black wings to complete my 'kinky cupid' look.

We spent the early part of the evening getting our bearings, swigging cava and soaking up all the visual stimulation on offer. There was much excitable frolicking to observe, some of the best people-watching you could hope for. One of my favourite moments was witnessing a kinky-nun attempting to use one of the giant pink balloons on the dancefloor as a pilates ball, and ending up crashing to the floor in spectacular style as it unsurprisingly burst beneath her. The venue, a converted theatre, was spread over two floors - downstairs a dancefloor and the main stage where the bands played, then upstairs a more intimate bar area, with a small cabaret stage for the various kooky acts. These included a man dressed as a cyborg, sawing off his cyber-penis - all very surreal. After queuing for what seemed like an eternity, whilst being psyched out by two freaky ladies on the door, we were finally let into the 'Hate Booth', in which an enraged man behind bars wearing bad pants hurled abuse at us and the other two girls in our mini-audience. Unfortunately by this point I was too far-gone to come up with any witty retortes, and just sat there, stunned, as I was cursed, castigated and insulted for several minutes.

Seven hours of frivolity, feistiness and flailing later, and suddenly it was 6am and time to go home. I couldn't believe the night had gone by so quickly, and slightly regret getting so wasted that the last few hours are a bit of a blur. Now sporting an impressive array of UDIs (unidentified drinking injuries), I can only imagine whatever I got up to must have involved either falling down stairs, a wrestling match, or some impressive acrobatics. If there are any witnesses out there who can remember beating up a wasted kinky cupid, perhaps you could own up and spare me the misery of my failing memory... Not content with shedding whatever thin veneer of dignity I had in front of the fairly new friends I went with, it seems somehow fitting that, like a true fallen angel, I also lost my wings. Still feeling distinctly jaded today, I am getting vexingly hazy recollections popping into my addled mind at regular intervals, making me smile and cringe in equal measure. I guess that's what Lost Vagueness is all about... Can't wait for the next one!

Monday, February 05, 2007

Some Music that I Like

In spite of, or perhaps inspired by, my continuing penchant for regular rum-soaked social escapades, I’ve recently been swept up in a spate of unusually fervent musical discovery. It’s been ages since I felt so inspired by contemporary popular music, and my purse is positively groaning from the hammering it has received in Rounder Records as a result! So, while I'm in a sharing mood, here are just some of my current favourites:

Archie Bronson Outfit
I may have mentioned these guys in a previous post about the Green Man festival, but they certainly warrant another plug here. Possibly the most overlooked band of 2006, their latest album Derdang Derdang offers the kind of raw, rasping, urgent rock that is ideal for aiding my regular stomp up Southover Street (anyone reading who’s not from Brighton – this is one of the steepest hills in town, redeemed only by the fact that it also boasts at least six pubs), and pisses all over all those sub-britpop soundalikes who I have come to loathe - so much so that I can’t even bear to name-check them here.

Do Say Make Think
Sunday afternoon paper-reading-with-hangover music at its best (and also rather good as a still-drunk-but-not-ready-for-bed-yet early hours chill-out soundtrack). Reminiscent of Krautrock pioneers Can, DSMT have the same rambling, improvised feel, which I find strangely soothing. There is also a touch of early Low about the hypnotically repetitive, ponderous guitar motifs, which then build into a mellow frenzy of unidentifiable noises - including various wind and percussion instruments. The lack of vocals also makes it easier to 'zone out' when feeling too tired/drunk/jaded to be bothered listening to lyrics. I was irritated with myself when I discovered that they've been around for over ten years, and I've been missing out all this time.

The Long Blondes
A current favourite of BBC 6Music, these Blondie-esque hipsters are getting plenty of airplay, and deservedly so. Their fervent, upbeat, often frenzied pop tunes are punctuated by singer Kate Jackson’s unusually striking and refreshingly enunciated vocals.

Arcade Fire
OK, so I admit I was slow on the uptake here, as it seems everyone else out there is already a fan (including the eternally irritating Chris Martin from Coldplay, who can't stop gushing about them - which incidentally means they must be good, as normally I wouldn't associate myself with anything he does - the smug git). It took a friend's recommendation to turn me on to these French-Canadian indie-rockers, and I am grateful to them for it (you know who you are). Unfortunately I wasn't on the ball enough to snap up a ticket to their sell-out upcoming London dates, so I shall be impatiently awaiting the opportunity to see them live. Meanwhile, my ears will have to continue forgiving me for cranking up the volume on my mp3 player in order to fully appreciate the invigorating ensemble of sounds... Twinkling pianos and swooning strings underpin distorted guitars and emotive vocals, with occasional accordion and glockenspiel cameos, as they swing between a gentle-ballady and pulsing pop-rock vibe.

Beirut
Citing influences from Jacques Brel to The Smiths, and incorporating a diverse range of genres including klezmer, bluegrass, cabaret, jazz, Arabic, folk, bal-musette, electronica, avante-garde and pop, Beirut's unique sound is a welcome addition to the growing 'world music' section of my record collection. Whilst I'm not really sure what 'world music' actually means (surely all music is from 'the world'?), this seems the most appropriate term to distinguish certain styles of music from generic pop/rock bands. Perhaps a separate blog on the semantics of musical terminology is warranted... er, actually...no.

Further listening suggestions/recommendations from fellow music-enthusiasts are positively encouraged!