Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Nysa Speakeasy – 1920s nostalgia fused with house

The start of this blog has coincided quite nicely (not entirely by accident) with my venturing out into the London club scene to sample some of the electro-swing nights that are on offer. Until this month there was just the one offering, the Electro-Swing Club at the Book Club, but now we have at least three monthly events.

Nysa is the smallest and the newest of these (White Mink’s new London night is the other, which I will review in the next post) and is in many ways the most ambitious. The promoter is Barry Madej, house DJ and electro-swing fan, who decided to try his hand at putting on a night – a brave move considering the size and ubiquity of the other two promoters, and their ability to attract big name acts.

Rather cleverly, this night doesn’t really attempt to compete with the all-singing, all-dancing immersive experiences offered by White Mink et al., but instead focuses on the music. The venue is in part the cause, as Nysa takes place in a bar with a capacity of about 100.
Baz maintains an air of mystery – his events are held at a ‘secret location’ in Notting Hill and operate on a strict guestlist only policy and it is only once you have applied to be on the guestlist is you are informed of the address. This helps to create a sense of exclusivity and justifies the ‘Speakeasy’ in the name of the night.

As the subtitle suggests, the music owes more to house than any other genre. Chatting to Baz at the afterparty, I learnt that he has been DJing on the house scene for many years, so this is perhaps not all that surprising. There were some garage tunes, so for the odd ten minute period we were denied electro-swing, but my friends and I were glad of the respite from dancing. Having said that, the electro-swing sections were very good indeed, with some well-known staples of the genre and one or two tunes that were new to me. Another nice touch was the video projection of original artwork from L.A based artist Anja van Herle.

Overall, it was fairly clear that many of the attendees had never come across electro-swing before, and that the party I was in was the only one there specifically for the music. When we arrived most of the guests were milling around, chatting and drinking, but pretty soon my chums and I had taken to the floor and the atmosphere changed quickly.

One member of our party, The Hon. Rumple Fuddly developed quite a following and cleared quite a circle on the floor with his dancing. He was even asked if he had had ‘electro-swing lessons’, which I am pretty sure do not exist.

A good litmus test for any genre-specific event is what someone new to the music makes of the event. To this end I took along a lady known as Sweetness, who, I am happy to say, fell in love. Sadly she has now moved back to her native South Africa, but hopefully this just means she will start flying the flag for electro-swing south of the Sahara. (Actually, the seeds have been sown)
The next event from Nysa is on Friday 23rd March. To apply for a guestlist place and to find out the location, click here.