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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Stars of the Cabaret: Review of the Boom Boom Club

The Boom Boom Club cabaret troupe dazzles their audience at the underground Bath House in East London every Thursday night.

Written by Jessica Furseth

This Is The Kit by Kayleigh Bluck
This is the Kit wriggle out the restless

I’ve always loved France, visit this harbouring an intention to learn the French lingo for many years. I’m not being frivolous, try I can assure you. I am able to testify to my desire through my ginger cat, whom I named Francois and my half French boy. Oui, j’adore France! Kate Stables wanted to learn French too, so she moved to Paris. Always an observer of life’s idiosyncrasies, she found her vision could stretch even further when she left Bristol’s borough and sat within a caffeinated artery of France. Stables, the singer/musician/protagonist in This Is The Kit, defines the music they create as ‘Screamo/Emo/Flamenco’. Which in a sense it is. A feisty, heart dancing, spirited, emotional flounce. Folky but not in the jingly sense, more soulful and with minimal instruments.

This Is The Kit by Kayleigh Bluck
This Is The Kit by Kayleigh Bluck

Stables is an endearing, dark Rapunzel locked figure. Her voice shoots through you like the first sip of wine after a slog of a day, trapped in an unlit cave. You will find This Is The Kit will gently waft along on a gondolier, tell you it’s all ok, then fighting off the cave bats with their melodies, take you outside to some weeping willow adorned fairy land. She beholds a sound similar to Mary Hampton and Martha Tilston, but more girl next door in pronunciation, realness and the simplicity of lyrics. See: Two Wooden Spoons and Our Socks Forever More. The latter, sang with an acoustic guitar and ukelele, is about wanting to take off your shoes and socks forever more. ‘One of these days’ going to make it back ‘to your mattress’… but ‘I have a thing about sound sufficiency’. It’s a haunting, touching song about decisions, desires and, ‘that someone’. Moon has to be the most splendid of songs about first breath romance. After being lost in the skies, the couple come down, gasping for air and hit by reality. It has only a few lines, but manages an upbeat yet serious undertone feel to it. ‘We had the Moon’ says all it needs to.

This Is The Kit by Kayleigh Bluck
This Is The Kit by Kayleigh Bluck.

It’s nice to be sitting down when you listen to This Is The Kit, with some Pear and Apple cider preferably, or indeed a cafe au lait, if you want to make it French. At many of their relaxed, low key shows (such as Village Halls) you can do this. However, This Is The Kit have also played with big Folk heros like Jeffrey Lewis in their time – so you’ll probably be somewhere bigger, without sitting potential and Maureen and Agnes’ tapestry collections festooning the wooden walls (shame). Multitalented Stables plays guitar, banjo, trumpet and percussion. Often she is joined on stage by her musical friends including Rozi Plain, Jim Barr and Francois and The Atlas Mountains. Tres Bon. Their latest album, Wriggle Out The Restless, on Dreamboat Records, was produced by long term collaborator, Jesse D Vernon, who also often plays on stage as a two piece with Stables.

Continuing to flit across the Channel, This Is The Kit are worth seeing whilst they are this side. They encourage the celebration of the pure and simple things in life. The joy from another person and the beauty right out there. French people will tell you about this: I quote Chamfort, the 18th century French playwright: “Contemplation often makes life miserable. We should act more, think less, and stop watching ourselves live.” Think about this, at a time when most of the world belongs to some form of networking site. Encouraging self evaluation, we discuss our loves, losses, diets and determinations into the abyss. France and This Is The Kit say: look out and to the people we care about.

This Is The Kit released their latest album Wriggle Out the Restless last week on Dreamboat Records. They are also touring at the moment. Catch them in London during mid November.

BoomBoomClub_burlesque_by_Natasha_Thompson
Illustration by Natasha Thompson

This is an odd place for a cabaret, buy information pills I thought as we cleared the little church yard only to find a gritty-looking chain pub and a wall of glass office buildings. The map on the phone screen yielded little clue as to where this Bath House place was, online but a second look around revealed a tiny kiosk covered in colourful tiles. Free-standing between the tall corporate buildings, erectile it looked like a doorway to the past, originally built as a Victorian Turkish Bathhouse. The building didn’t seem big enough to house a café, let alone a vaudeville troupe, but stepping inside it became clear the entertainment happened under ground, and the topside was just a teaser. The tiles continued down the stairs and into the lavish dining room, with marbled mosaic floors, elaborately decorated columns and candles everywhere. The original features were interspersed with modern artwork of elegant skeletons, human and animals, with an overall effect of elegant decadence. As the Boom Boom Club cabaret stars jostled behind the curtain, diners finished up their sticky puddings, shrugging off concerns of work in the morning and ordered a fresh round of cocktails for the main event.

Dusty_Limits_by_James_Ormiston_tricolor
Dusty Limits by James Ormiston

Our host for the evening was the dazzling Dusty Limits, who immediately had us wrapped around his finger. Shimmying onto the little stage with his bleached-blond hair and dark eye make-up, he assured any animal rights supporters in the audience that the neck fur he kept stroking was indeed real. The performer, a leading figure in London’s neo-cabaret scene, entertained us with his at times macabre and downright filthy wit, not afraid of stealing drinks from the audience during his musical numbers. While hosts chatting during set changes are often just a filler in anticipation of the real entertainment, Dusty Limits is a true attraction in his own right. It’s not for delicate souls, as the words ‘Jesus’ and ‘dogging’ were indeed heard in the same sentence. This sort of thing can easily sound crude coming from a mediocre comedian, but I dare say Dusty Limits has enough charm and talent to get away with saying pretty much anything.

While the host is a staple of the Boom Boom Club every Thursday, the rest of the ensemble may vary slightly between each time. Last Thursday the curator of the burlesque performance, Vicky Butterfly, was absent, but instead we had Miss Miranda and Roxy Velvet charming us with their routines. In true burlesque tradition their clothes came off, but the added theatrical flair made the acts stand out. Especially Roxy Velvet put on a literally flaming show, with burning swords and a sparking gun – ahead of which the front row was prompted by Dusty Limits to ‘please lean back’. The burlesque starlet also wowed the audience by stubbing out a cigarette on her tongue – I have no idea whether this was a trick, but if it was, it is possible she’d been taught by magician duo Barry and Stuart. Entering the stage in unassuming, geeky suits, the well-tuned act started slow with a theatre-inspired magic act before making the crowd squeal and squirm in their seats as they added a touch of the macabre. I don’t want to ruin the surprise, but the lady in the audience did confirm the nail was real.

BoomBoomClub_skull
Boom Boom Club ensemble courtesy of The Bath House

The one element of the night which neglected to completely enthral the audience was possibly Adam One Man Destruction, a highly skilled one-man-band act. The artist played three instruments and sang at the same time – maybe it was Adam’s fault for making it look so easy, my friend pointed out. After all, our own co-ordination skills proved miserable as we failed at the old kids’ trick of tapping our thighs with one hand while stroking with the other at the same time.

Enthralled, however, is probably the right word to describe the effect Kaiki Hula had on her audience. Practically falling onto the stage in her ‘Madonna in the bad-ass years’ outfit, smeared make-up and empty booze bottle, she proceeded to literally rock her hula hoops along to Run D.M.C.’s jumping track ‘It’s tricky’. One hoop at first, adding more and more until the tiny girl, still in her boozy bad girl character, had at least seven hoops twirling in perfect control all across her body – not counting the two around her wrists. I have seen acrobat performers at cabarets before, but trust me when I say Kaiki Hula wipes the floor with them. For five minutes last Thursday, a hula hooper was the coolest girl in the world, twirling to abandon in front of a mesmerised audience with their jaws on the floor.

The Boom Boom Club entertains on Thursday nights at The Bath House. Find it at 7-8 Bishopsgate Churchyard, London EC2.

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One Response to “Stars of the Cabaret: Review of the Boom Boom Club”

  1. [...] Published in Amelia’s Magazine on 27 October 2010. Original article here. [...]

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