Monday, 27 October 2014

Club Noir 2010

The oldest and largest burlesque show in the UK

While many other burlesque nights have faded away, Club Noir keeps going strong. A loyal party crowd, its willingness to expand beyond burlesque – recent collaborators include Scottish Opera – and high quality costume have ensured that Noir has held its market position throughout the revival and into the New Burlesque Order.

Club Noir
strives to be more than just a series of routines: it regularly features bands (this time it was the Seventeenth Century, a group of young men who take their cues from both folk and the Godspeed You! Black Emperor school of emotive indie dynamics) and fetish inspired acts, linked together by glamorous women and camp men stripping. It is certainly trying to be far more than just burlesque: the atmosphere and the audience are crucial parts of the evening. The presence of Jim Gellaty behind the decks made the club evening even more crucial to the entire evening.

As burlesque emerges from being a revival to being part of the entertainment establishment, the challenge becomes how to keep the style fresh: tonight's entertainment was kicked off with the aforementioned Seventeenth Century, took in a dominatrix making a reindeer's Christmas wish come true, a fire act that moved onto arc-welded sparks showering the performer and a old school burst of elegant dance, Gene Kelly style.

The striptease itself is heavy on the costume and concept, holding true to the contemporary burlesque preoccupation with recreation of vintage glamour and tentative narratives: champagne is poured across semi-naked bodies, a man strips between awkward, ironic balletic leaps. There is a ritualistic edge to burlesque, a familiarity that is perhaps at odds with its erotic potential.

Equally important, however, is the participation of the crowd: dressed up either in fancy dress or fetish club style, they greet the performers warmly and dance into the late hours. It is a reminder that the neo-cabaret revival is as much about community as it is about performers.

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