Monday, February 25, 2008

Vive La Différence!

Vive La Fip, Komedia, 23rd Feb 08

One of the things I love most about living in Brighton is the sheer volume and variety of activities on offer. You could, if you wanted, go out every weekend of the year and do something completely different - whether you're into live music, theatre, clubbing, eating, comedy, sport, drinking, or all of the above - there is no excuse for ever exclaiming "I'm bored!" in this town. As someone who feels largely indifferent towards conventional 'club' music, but does love to dance, I have particularly benefitted from the rise in alternative club nights in the last few years, especially since the relaxed licensing laws paved the way for non-traditional club venues to host such affairs. This means that I no longer have to brave the chav-infested seafront club strip in order to have a boogie on a Saturday night, and what's more, I get to dance to music that I would actually listen to at home. Many of these new club nights also give us vintage clothing lovers a chance to don our retro frocks without feeling out of place. Notable examples of such events include girly jive-fest Born Bad, cheesetastic We Luv Pop, oldie but goodie Dynamite Boogaloo, Brighton's answer to Lost Vagueness Boutique Theatre and sleazy electro disco It Came From the Sea, to name but a few. On Saturday, I took some friends along to Vive La Fip, one of several club nights now on offer at Brighton's premier arts centre Komedia.

A celebration of cult French radio station Fip, Vive La Fip is possibly the only place (other than my flat) where you could dance to ska, samba, disco, chanson, jazz, soul and rock in one evening. And it's not only the music that's eclectic - the elegantly clad punters range in age from 20-something to 50-something, happily intermingling on the dancefloor - united by a collective enthusiasm for the outstanding music. First heard in Brighton over ten years ago, many people presumed that they were picking up Fip's signal from across the channel, when in fact it was being illegally re-broadcast by a local resident, allegedly from somewhere in the Hanover area. The station's ever-growing army of listeners were left distraught when the pirate operation was finally discovered and thwarted by industry regulators Ofcom. But Fip lives on in Brighton - for those, like me, who listen via the internet - and once a month at Vive La Fip. Hosted in the intimate Studio Bar, with a comfortable balance of seating and dancefloor space, my only gripe about the night is the enforcement of plastic glasses, which seems ridiculous given the unusually refined and relaxed air of the proceedings. I do object to being made to drink from a plastic cup (especially when enjoying a rather fine pint of Dark Star ale) at my age, and it does diminish the otherwise sophisticated milieu somewhat. Let's hope that Komedia come to their senses and allow proper glassware in future, or I shall be tempted to bring my own tankard next time, I'm not joking!

Listen to Fip Online

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