Monday, 28 October 2013

Burlesque in a Speigeltent

I'm not normally one to go out and play on a school night but there are some things you just can't say no to.

We are bang smack in the middle of the Canterbury Festival and its companion, the Fringe Festival, a fortnight of arts and entertainment events and activities in various venues all over the City.  Sinead is performing in one of the shows this week (Daddy's Girls, presented by Ashcan, at the Salt Restaurant) and we have all been rehearsing our socks off ready for next's week production of Wyrd Sisters.

We needed a girls night out to let our hair down and hitch our skirts up and Shay had exactly the right event for us.

Gilded Lily's Variety Show at the Speigeltent.
Now I don't know about you but I have never been to a Speigeltent before so didn't really know what to expect.  I was picturing a fairly basic marquee, white canvas walls and maybe a nice lantern hanging from the centre.

As we were dropped off at the Kent Cricket Ground I wasn't expecting this
A 1900's mirrored travelling dance hall, reminiscent of the wild bohemia and wanton fin-de-si├Ęcle of the Moulin Rouge era nightlife.  The hall took our breath away.
Inside was a riot of circus colours, rich fabrics and deep woods all inlaid with mirrors reflecting and refracting the light around the interior.  Framing the entrance were etched glass panels featuring intricate, delicate designs and a very popular bar featuring not so intricate and delicate alcohol.

Booths littered the perimeter whilst wooden chairs formed an audience in the large auditorium in the centre.
We had dressed up for the occasion; we felt that we didn't often get the opportunity to go all out and so the hats, petticoats, corsets and elbow length gloves all came out to play.  I think we caused a bit of a stir - as a group we were by far the most dressed up bunch there but it was such good fun to really go for it!

Also, I'm going to apologise for the quality of some of the photo's,  Light levels were really bad and rather purple as well as a decent amount of stage smoke and we weren't allowed any flash photography which all combines to rather pink, grainy, sometimes a bit blurry photo's.  Sorry!
I have never worn this corset before; it is so beautiful though and just look at the workmanship and detail on it.  It is a vintage corset, handed down from my mother and I have always wanted an excuse to wear it out. It was also surprisingly comfortable!  I teamed it with a petticoat that I normally wear under my 50's dresses and a lacey skirt over the top with Victorian heeled booties.  It was a look I have never tried before but one that is so much fun to wear and also attracts a lot of attention!
None of the girls disappointed with their outfits, although I think we all felt much more comfortable en-masse than we did individually!
We grabbed some bottles of wine, grabbed some seats and settled in for the show as the compare came onto the stage to introduce the hostess.
Gilded Lily was our hostess for the evening, a singer and performer with a saucy attitude and a sassy wink, she was wonderful.  She came on in lavish costumes and had the audience eating out of the palm of her hand with her catchphrase of 'Did you like that?  Of course you did, I know you did my darlings!'
She sang four songs I think in total, including one in French (no idea, never heard it before).  Her voice is beautiful with an operatic quality and a rolling timbre to it.  This girl has a serious set of pipes on her!
I don't have many pictures as it's not really right to try and photograph someone in the middle of a burlesque routine, but we were treated to three performances, one involving a balloon routine, one with giant fans and one with a feather boa.  All three were stunning.  I've never been to a burlesque show before but I'm really tempted to look up some more in our area!

This was a variety show so we also had some magicians who were screamingly funny, a very flexible female comedian and my favourite, The Boy With Tape Over His Mouth, a simple concept but so effective.  Having your mouth obscured means you rely totally on your body and your eyes to convey humour and we were in stitches.  Amazingly talented and if you get the chance to see him please take advantage of it!
He even managed to get one member of the audience performing his own strip tease on the stage to 'Leave Your Hat On'.  Kudos to you Sir, that took guts!
This night was an absolute scream and such a fantastic event to go to with a group of your girlfriends.  I know that the Canterbury Festival are fundraising to bring the Speigeltent back again next year.  I only hope that they manage it.

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