The past couple of years have been a really interesting time for the UK music scene. Things are starting to become a lot more exciting and a lot more unorthodox in what is rising to prominence and favoured among the majority crowd. But, there was always one main point of focus that did primarily concern me… the nightclub community.
These days a typical club night is merely but an overpriced evening / morning of cheap drinks deals consisting of Apple Sours, bottles of Fosters, watered down vodkas, and a sub-par cocktail that looked like it was concocted by a bartender who just been given a promise from a liar. On top of this, you have the same DJ playing the same monotonous rubbish that gets played every week – and you can be guaranteed that half (or most) of this material is currently in the charts, or has Sean Paul in it at some point. The evening which usually ends in a sprightly youngling with a top done up so tight that you wonder if the restriction is cutting off the oxygen supply to his head (which would explain this new generation of ‘lad culture’ and their inexcusable idiocy), trying to have a pop at the bouncer, or perhaps flinging themselves at some naive girl who happens to have a boyfriend – thus ending the night in a good, old-fashioned hiding. Oh, and about £100 out of pocket. It’s the same old monotony that is prevalent in most club nights, which makes it feel like a liver-battering version of Groundhog Day.
I had grown tired of the same old rubbish that was expected to happen on nights out. I get my kicks from live music, but I also still craved that outrageous nightclub environment of subtle unity. Until one day earlier this January, that all changed! Allow me to digress…
Whilst reviewing some electronic music albums, I happened to come across the electro-swing band Caravan Palace. The name of the band itself caught my interest, but I certainly was not expecting what I heard… and I absolutely loved it. Electro-Swing? What is this? 1920/1930s inspired musical leanings to the steady rhythms of 4/4 club beats, to which you could lose yourself and dance to?! Amazing! But this was just one band with a terrific sound. Would this merely be a novelty musical direction? Clearly not.
Whilst I was browsing through their band page, I saw the names Freshly Squeezed Music, and White Mink mentioned a lot. Upon further investigation, it turns out that White Mink was an electro-swing club night and this was the first video I saw…
To say I was enchanted by the sights of this is an understatement. But one thing that did strike me was that this was from back in 2011! I felt like a bit of an idiot for not being clued up about this a lot sooner. But hey, better late than never, right? For me it looked perfect – everyone dressed up 20/30s style, some proper amazing music and dancing going on, what was there not to like? The further I investigated into White Mink Electro Swing Speakeasy, the more I realised just how much effort they were putting in to make the venue into a proper, rejuvenated speakeasy – complete with other activities that could be seen and done on the evening. This looked like the most amazing club night I had never been to! So come January 2015, I found out about a White Mink club night that was going down in Shoreditch on Friday 13th February. And there was no chance in hell that I would not attend!
So come the actual night of the festivities, to say it was a celebration of the lavish is merely an understatement. The moment I walked through the doors, I knew I was entering something special. The formal wear was like something from a speakeasy – 1920/30s style fashion for both ladies and gentlemen. Everyone pretty much dressing up for the occasion and actually looking their best, both classy and beautiful in equal measure. But on top of dressing to impress, the people in attendance were here to do one primary thing… have the best night they possibly can.
A mixture of electro swing live bands and DJs such as Klischee, Genie and the Jivebombers, DJ Farrapo, and Jamie Berry, were all in attendance and providing a really refreshing range of music for all to dance to. Hell, there was even a mini-casino to go and play in! But let me make one thing perfectly clear by all means… this club night was probably the closest thing that you could imagine to a real life version of the party scene in The Great Gatsby – gloriously over the top, decadently classy, highly sophisticated, and a wholly unified celebration of love, life, and music, with absolutely zero trouble at all. Something that all club nights could learn a thing or two about!
Even the age demographic is something to behold in a club like this! I witnessed an age range of people from around 18-70 (seriously). There was this chap in a bright white suit who kind of looked like a cockney Lou Bega, and it wasn’t until he approached me and my guest in attendance later that night that I found out that he was legitimately 70 years old, and he could dance as incredibly as everyone else! The man was absolutely loving the vibes, was not drinking alcohol or anything and he claimed that the whole purpose of White Mink is ‘just to lose yourself in the harmony of elegance whilst being proud of who you are, and everyone else you can share this nostalgic memory with‘. A fair shout by all means!
There was even a point where I was very reluctant to dance, or attempt any form of dancing style because, well… I’m a stagediver, a mosher, and skanker at heart. But a mixture of insistence and encouragement from other people I had never met, the incredibly positive atmosphere, and the enchanting form of music being played, just made me all but fall under the spell. On this very occasion, I danced. Then I danced some more, and then a hell of a lot more. Whilst in a suit and a bow tie. And after a decent four hours of doing that, I felt like I no longer had two left feet anymore! I probably looked like an absolute prat in the midst of all this, but someone I met that night reassured me of one thing… ‘the main point of dancing, is to lose yourself within the music. It doesn’t matter if you are not as good as the other people, but as long as you feel and you can ride it out, that is what is important!’.
Even to this day, that was quite easily hands down one of my top five nights I have had in 2015. I completely fell in love with the White Mink Electro Swing Speakeasy, and everything that it had to offer. It does not matter what musical background or culture you come from, I strongly urge and recommend that everyone should at least give this club night one try – and for what is right, make sure you spruce up and make an effort in looking your best! There is no judgment here, there is no stereotyping, or shaming. This is a celebration. A celebration to which you are all invited – just make sure you are prepared to have a decadent, glorious, and the outright most joyous night of your entire year!
White Mink Electro Swing Speakeasy has now moved to a new permanent venue based at Clapham Grand, in London, but continues to put on nights all over the UK – and it all starts this weekend! If you want to find out more about event attendance, tickets, and general information, visit their official Facebook page, or join the mailing list on their official website. So what are you waiting for?! Come and join the electro-swing revolution already! But if anyone would like to come and dance with me, I am looking for another excuse to go and party up there and wear a suit. Apply within.