Burlesque is a big hit and has been infiltrating the London club scene over the last two years. Though it may seem inappropriate to call something that revels in quaint antiquity as "New Wave" it is indeed New Wave Burlesque that we are enjoying at the moment. We imagine that most readers are, like us, looking ahead to the weekend already and out of the many burlesque nights available, we thought we'd recommend one we've actually been to and liked a great deal.
Hip Hip describe themselves as "anarchic cabaret for the discerning." It's anarchic, very definitely: on our first visit in December, the eager crowds attending were very dressed up with lots of girls (and some men) in corsets, fishnet stockings and feathered hats but the surroundings were quite grim in contrast. The Bethnal Green Working Men's Club is a fairly grubby place with sticky carpets, cheap pine panelling and beaten up furniture. There's just one room and a bar that looks like it was bought second hand from a student union. The stage is small and the dance floor swamped with tables and chairs laid out for cabaret-style seating. There were a lot more people than there were chairs so everyone stood to watch the stage and the place was quite heavily rearranged once the DJ and dancing started.
All of this came together to create the anarchy that the organisers promised and somehow, it made everyone very friendly and willing to chat and dance and openly admire one another. There was a sense of being part of something underground, a bit naughty, a bit ad hoc like a Prohibition era drinking den or a secret off-the-ration-books party in the 1940s. As it was so close to Christmas, we've no doubt that had something to do with the warmth of the crowd, but we're happy to bet that it's always this friendly.
It's a club night that's for everyone - over the top art students, thrill-seeking city bankers, office drones letting off steam ... wallflowers are welcome but you'd have a better time if you like being looked at as much as looking at other people. Hip Hip is not for those who just want some music and bit of dancing to go with a few Friday night drinks; December's night out included:
- a chubby man stripping, climaxing in a Flashdance-style intervention with a bucket of water and some raunchy vest-ripping
- a stand-up comic's punchline wherein he set off a firework between his naked buttocks
- a girl stripping to her knickers around a Christmas tree which she then decorated with tinsel and rather large baubles she brought out from the seemingly cavernous space up her G-string
- a pair of sparkly nipple tassels twirled at alarming speed
- a tall redhead with an enormous high-heeled shoe as her prop who pouted, danced, stripped and slid up and down the shoe until she was quite naked
And lots of wild dancing and happy, dressed up people having a good time to the DJ set afterwards. Hip Hip is very hip, very sexy, very funny and a very good night out. The next night is this Friday - if you're not doing anything else, put on make-up, a nice hat of some sort, a corset and some spats for your shoes and head towards Bethnal Green. You'll be talking about it for ages afterwards, we promise.
Hip Hip at Bethnal Green Working Men's Club, Friday 19 January, doors open 8pm, show starts at 9pm, DJ until 2am. Tickets are £10.00, no guest list, tickets only available on the door. For more information go to the website here.