Monday, October 12, 2009

Grab Your Glad Rags Honey, It's The Blind Tiger Club!

Brighton clubbing to many people means the garish seafront strip of venues populated by stag and hen parties and scantily clad teens. Fortunately for those of us to whom this scenario is tantamount to torture, we also have the likes of Born Bad, Da Doo Ron Ron, Dynamite Boogaloo, Vive La Fip, Carnivalesque and Balkaneasca to satisfy our boogie cravings. These are all fun nights, but rarely is there anything on the scale of last weekend's Blind Tiger Club - billed as a "backstreet speakeasy".

If the organisers had wanted it to be a truly clandestine event, they presumably wouldn't have advertised it on Facebook, but the idea was a laudable one all the same. The secret location turned out to be the old music library in the North Laine, an internally dilapidated 1920s building on three storeys, recently opened up for creative community events after years of standing disused. I was right at home in the prohibition era dress code - a vintage style for which flat chests and short hair are de rigeur. Being an "any excuse to dress up" kind of town, most people had also entered into the spirit, with an eye-pleasing array of trilby clad dapper gents and feathered up ladies strutting their stuff.

The faded grandeur of the venue gave the night a suitably speakeasy feel, although the (distinctly un-vintage) security staff and festival style outdoor portaloos did detract from the retro vibe slightly. The irrepressible pedant in me was irked to hear the odd burst of more recent (albeit 1950s) music, as if everything before 1960 should be banded together as "the music of yesteryear". On any other occasion I'd be the first to get up and jive, but in this context found it physically impossible to reconcile Rock n Roll with my flapper get-up. There was also no sign of the promised "live magic shows, cabaret, walkabout performance, grand piano and table service". But mild disappointments aside, I was in heaven - throwing myself around to a jolly selection of swing, jazz and big band and employing all sorts of half-remembered dodgy amdram moves.

Each of the three levels maintained a very distinct vibe throughout the night, with most of the action happening down in the wonderfully seedy basement, where all the more danceable bands were playing. Everyone piled down there for the much hyped Correspondents, but I was non-plussed about them and took the opportunity to enjoy the more easygoing atmosphere upstairs. It was there that I discovered The Roulettes, whose somewhat sinister take on the Puppini Sisters' swing-punk schtick made for entertaining listening indeed.

By 5am I was hoary-eyed and footsore, but still bouncing along as I toddled home - accompanied for part of the way by Matty Mo, who'd been working behind the bar. And the swell thing was that despite the excessive absinthe consumption, there was hardly a whiff of hangover the next day. Copacetic.

Photos from The Blind Tiger Club on Flickr.
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