Category Archives: review

London Fashion Week

“Hey, we’re going to a LFW party, do you want to come?” erm…hell yes. One of the many benefits of my job is that I work with some great people who have interesting and peculiar friends. On this occasion the interesting friends were Fanny and Jess, a newly graduated fashion pairing who work under the label…Fanny and Jess!

Just so you can picture the scene: my day / work aesthetic is cute 50’s style dresses, lots of colour and a basic refusal that I live in a cold country. This strongly contrasted with a room of moody fashionistas in varying shades of black. I was a touch uncomfortable. However, I soon got reacquainted with my good friend wine and everything became a lot more relaxed. I schmoozed and mingled like a pro, talking with an italian shoe designer, a east end photographer and a freelance stylist who’d just come from some important show (dahling!).

After finding my work mate again we went to check out her friends’ collection. Although not my daytime look some pieces did fit with my darker evening style (voluptuous vamp with playful touches). I’m all about well cut fabric and there were some pretty awesome skin tight dark flower print over greyish black leggings with leather patches that would’ve looked amazing with a black crop top and killer heels. There was also an LBD with loads of fringing which would have had gorgeous movement on the body.

All in all I’d say Fanny and Jess are two fresh young designers that could go far.

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Don’t Tell Mama

I went to a magical cabaret at well known burlesque institution Volupte. First off, the food was absolutely incredible, especially my stilton soup to start so I would recommend getting a table if you go but this was secondary to the show. It was on a Tuesday night so the atmosphere was a little flat and it was clear that the comics worked better off a buzzed audience but none-the-less it was entertaining.

The semi-famous magician Max Somerset did an intriguing ‘ball and cup’ routine which built and built, culminating in a live chicken being pulled from nowhere. Similarly impressive was the audience’s Derren Brown style prediction of the lottery which was at least partly unfixed as one of our table supplied a number.

The burlesque act for the evening was no Dita Von Tease (neither in talent nor physical charms) but she did do an interesting comedy magic trick where she supposedly mistook a bandana for a banana but made it disappear regardless. She also belted out a cheeky number entitled “Don’t Tell Mama I Went To Volupte” whilst removing a naughty nun outfit, proving that if you have enough confidence it doesn’t matter what size you are.

Would I go again?

To see a show; yes, but only on the weekend after payday. You need the atmosphere of a packed club and enough money to enjoy yourself. As a bar it’s a bit far out of the main drag but the cocktails were delicious (especially chilli infused gin ones) and would be good for an intimate, secluded, alternative date.

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The story so far…

Ok, so I have this super awesome wicked new job but the hours are nuts so, though I’ve been keeping culture clubbing going, it’s been a bit quiet on the blog front. A quick review of February’s activities is coming slowly but surely. As always, if you want to join the adventures and meet some new people then please get in touch.

To kick us off here’s my review of the Angels sale:

5 am – alarm goes. 5.30 am – on train. 7 am – in queue. 8 am – fairly sure I’ve lost at least 3 toes. 8.30 am – people start being let in. 8.45 am – I get in. 9.30 – I’ve left empty handed, but thankfully have not lost toes.

All I can really say is that if you’re a die hard vintage lover then go for it. If you’re a vintage-mixed-with-modern girl like myself don’t bother going to the next one. All I saw was shabby rejects, despite being one of the first few hundred in. Those surrounding me were grabbing handfuls of stuff that they obviously believed were treasures.

Has it turned me off jumble or sample sales? No, but I would be dubious about another vintage one. I will be keeping eyes peeled for Jumbleist Massive where you only pay what you think the item is worth. Apparently last time they had a whole load of last season Urban Outfitters stuff which I always think is a bit overpriced but very pretty.

Verdict: disappointing but there was a pretty funny chick fight so it wasn’t a total loss.

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Let’s get digital

The V&A museum always houses beautiful exhibits, but most are full of riches from the past. It is refreshing that it has decided to commission a showcase for digital artists in collaboration with onedotzero in order to display new methods of expression and fresh talent in ‘Decode: Digital Design Sensations’.

digital sculpture

The initial displays lack a certain excitement for those unfamiliar with coding and the like, appearing as if this may be just a display of some interesting screen savers. However, once through the small entrance passage, it as if you have tumbled through the rabbit hole into a 2010 wonderland.

From the art of conversation with fluorescent lines connecting tweets to a pictorial clock; around every corner was something to delight. Children were particularly thrilled by the interactivity of the collection and it was positively charming to see them genuinely excited by art, as opposed to bored and whiny.

A piece that piqued a lot of interest was the hypnotic ‘Dandelion’, by Danish collective YOKE, whose beautiful, giant flower’s seeds were dispersed by infrared hair dryer. Other enjoyable pieces included ‘Videogrid’ and ‘Digital Zoetrope’. The former an ever evolving documentation of visitors to the exhibit, allowing a real feeling of ownership for the observer; the latter a wheel of code that briefly aligned to form words before melting back into ambiguity.

Dandelion

Running until the 11th April, Decode is not just a computer geek’s wet dream but a new frontier of art that should be explored and wondered at in the same way as the brushstrokes of Renoir or Matisse. Who knew binary code could be so beautiful?

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Twelfth Night

On Wednesday 27th January after a quick refresh of the plot from Spark Notes, every GCSE student’s saviour, intrepid London Culture Clubbers made their way to the Duke of York theatre to see Shakespeare’s great comedy, Twelfth Night.

The themes of identity, love and madness were played out marvellously on the stage and, despite being at the back of the stalls, our view was excellent. The set design was fabulous and costumes (or lack thereof for some characters) were brilliant, really setting the mood of the piece. Overall the first half of the play was good, though not fantastic, but things drastically improved in the second half, aided by some cracking honey and ginger ice cream during the interval.

The main draw for this performance was Richard Wilson in the role of Malvolio. The general consensus was that he did not make enough of the role, being particularly disappointing in the letter scene and not playing up his supposed madness enough. Conversely I found the portrayal of Lady Olivia somewhat shrill and grating, though I suppose the OTT nature is how the character is intended to be played. Needless to say, if I were a bloke she would not be on the top of my ‘to do’ list; hardly a captivating beauty.

Luckily the three most comedic characters played off each other brilliantly and more than made up for other short comings. Sir Toby, Sir Andrew Augecheek and the Fool all seemed to be pissed out their heads and having a jolly good time playing their practical jokes. The Fool was particularly good when interacting with the audience, even stealing some malteasers from the front row at the start of the second act. Funny to observers, though he would have lost a hand had he tried that with my chocolate treats. Similarly, Augecheek, played by that chap from ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’ James Fleet, gave brilliant asides as a drunken suitor and general coward.

Verdict: Definitely go if you can get the £5 tickets on the morning of the show (available for those aged under 26) but only pay full price if seeing on the weekend as I expect it will have a bit more energy with a fuller house.

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Identity

Saturday’s excursion was somewhat profound for enthusiastic members of the London Culture Club. The venue of our second meeting was at the Wellcome Museum in Kings Cross to see an exhibit entitled ‘Identity’. It dealt with investigations into the self from DNA to diary, genealogy to gender and everything in between. I left with some answers and a whole new set of questions about who I am and who I want to be.

The first room had the famous diarist Samuel Pepys as its figurehead. This made me think that, with our lives laid bare on various social media platforms, few people keep private diaries now. We know our blogs and tweets and walls will be read, even if hiding behind anonymity, so we window dress our thoughts to make ourselves seem more interesting or important. Thus, it was fascinating to read someone’s truly private thoughts. Particularly poigniant was the WWII girl whose mother turned to prostitution and took her young daughter to dance with the soliders.

Surprising discoveries were the absolutely beautiful photographs taken by Claude Cahun, a French woman whose self portraits explored femininity, sexuality and religion. Her androgynous allure oozed the rebellion of 1920’s flappers and continued into anti-Nazi campaigning. I shall definitely be checking out some books on her life and work.

Most striking for me was the gorgeous April Ashley (born George Jamieson) who was one of the first British transsexuals. The bravery of people who undergo this operation astounds me, suffering the huge stigma it still carries. The photograph of a smiling woman I first mistook for Audrey Hepburn, so sophisticated and stunning, only upon entering the room did the tale unravel. After joining the navy and living in Paris George became April, a stylish woman who modelled for Vogue, met film stars and rock ‘n’ roll legends, and campaigned for GreenPeace. She fearlessly handled an exposé of her past. It sparked in me a desire to cast off self doubt and really go after what I want in life. Her story was captivating and I urge you to go and read it.

Of course, the other rooms were wonderful, especially the Alec Jeffreys DNA room (a must for CSI fans), but I will let you discover those for yourself. If you were half as inspired by this exhibit as I was, my work is done.

Ram head snuff box

An added treat were the permanent exhibitions, accessed via the spiral staircase. ‘Medicine Man’ housed shocking medical tools and paintings, though my favourite display was the ‘End of Life’ section. It housed melencholy artefacts befitting a world of Dorian Grey via Indiana Jones – a treat for any individual such as myself with a healthy amount of morbid fascination. ‘Medicine Now’ was not as interesting from a personal angle but there was much to see. It is worth stopping by the ‘Malaria’ area as it housed some interesting art that made you think. Serial dieters may also like to stop by the ‘Obsesity’ area, if only to see the work of a girl who photographed everything she ate for an entire year. Food diary, obsession or art? You decide!

The Identity exhibit runs until April 6th, visit here for opening times and more details.

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Are we human, or are we dancers?

The first London Culture Club outing was to a performance at ‘The Place’, a small dance school and theatre near Kings Cross that has been running 40 years. Both tired from a long day at work me and my wonderful friend, Alex, sat down to catch up over a few drinks in the theatre bar before the show began. We scurried excitedly to the auditorium at the sound of the bell and managed to nab a couple of front row seats.

 

A lone white figure lay motionless on the black stage and the music started, the crowd grew hush. The figure arose gracefully to reveal it’s form…a unicorn? Hold on, I thought this was ‘Swan Lake via The Ugly Duckling’? Hmmm…

 

Summary of act one:

The unicorn trotted horse-like round the stage. It left. A man in very large, very flimsy white pants came on stage, flapped a bit, threw some feathers around, then thrust his gentials in our direction. A woman came to clear up the feathers while a bit of Swan Lake was shown on a TV. The unicorn came back and committed suicide. The duck guy emerged from the unicorn outfit and took off his pants (another pair was underneath, thank god). Then it was the interval. 

Now I’m no dance genius so I turned to Alex, who has had some training, and raised a quizzical eyebrow. She said, ‘I didn’t quite get it either. The…err…movement was nice. Wasn’t too sure about the bit with his genitals.’ We concluded that ‘Mr Thorley’ must have been smoking something interesting and agreed that the ballet on the telly was very nice. Must put a ballet on London Culture Clubs ‘to do’ list.

 

 

Once more into the breach dear friends for part deux…

Argentine tango. Oh good. I like this the best on ‘Strictly’. Bit of a slow start. Oh balls! Beginning to think first foray into becoming a cultured young lady was misguided. But then…absolute magic!

The stage was transformed into a tube platform and the dancers accidentally meet via a renegade umbrella. The use of the prop as a third person (perhaps Fate) bringing them back into hold whenever they tried to separate was flirtatious and a welcome addition to the duo. The male solo twisted himself in knots – literally – when his new love left and then there was some extremely good leg flicky bits and graceful leaning when she came back. The story of the couple’s relationship ended with a glorious slow section which melted into classic ‘slow dance’ position to the sounds of ‘My Funny Valentine’. Trés romantique and one of my favourite songs. 

All in all this was my favourite piece of the evening, despite a few dodgy sections, and I would recommend seeing ‘Fusion Dance’ once they’ve had a little more experience.

 

The third act, ‘Archanna Ballal’, were technically excellent but the Tai Chi / Capoeira style was a bit too slow for my tastes. There was a partnered section which had some complex lifts and dramatic choreography. I enjoyed that immensely but the other 60% of it lacked any real passion for me, which I found strange from a piece that intended to explore desire.

 

 

Best bits:

  • Dreaming of falling in love on my morning commute
  • Some very impressive lifts
  • The lovely old couple sitting next to us who had been coming to shows there since it had opened

 

Would I go again? 

Yes. I think I probably need to learn a bit more about modern dance to properly understand it but I was impressed by the athleticism of the dancers and entertained, which is basically the aim of the game, isn’t it? Besides, how many people can say they’ve seen a half-naked man exploding a bag of feathers? I can, can you?

 

Unfortunately it proved difficult for people to get down at such short notice but a lot of interest in the London Culture Club project has been expressed in the Twitterverse. I urge you not to be one of those people who thinks, ‘What a wonderful way for me to try new things and meet new people.’ but then never actually comes. There’s a whole wide world of weird duck men and tangoing commuters out there so get involved!

 

See you soon,

BurnsyBoo

 

‘Resolution!’ Is running Mon-Sat evenings until 20th Feb. To find out more about the ‘Resolution!’ series and other peformances at The Place please visit the ‘What’s On’ page. Read an alternative review of the evening here.

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