Thursday, 5 April 2012


Since the last post about one of the smaller electro-swing nights in London I have been racking my brains as to how to do justice to what is probably now the biggest. I do not know if I have done so- hopefully this is informative and entertaining, if nothing else.
White Mink’s nights began in Brighton as a launch party for their compilation albums (White Mink : Black Cotton) and have grown rather quickly. In addition they have run successful festival stages, including the Larmer Tree Festival and The Thames Festival.

The brains behind the outfit are Nick Hollywood (described by the Guardian as “Godfather of electro-swing”; Chris Tofu ( of Continental Drifts, the team behind the Shangri La and Lost Vagueness stages at Glastonbury, and the one of the team behind the international “Electro Swing Club”); and Dan O’Neill, who brings business nous to the table. It is also worth pointing out that that these are the guys behind the Freshly Squeezed Music label, to which many of the biggest names of the genre like The Correspondents and Swing Republic belong. NB –their radio show is well worth checking out.
It is this combination that makes the White Mink nights so much fun. They are, as I mentioned in the previous post, immersive nights – while the dress code is not enforced people are encouraged to dress in a ‘vintage’ style (I am sure you can imagine that I need no encouragement) and in additon to DJs and bands there are a number of cabaret performers – magicians, burlesque dancers and so on - drawn from the books of Continental Drifts.
I have now attended two of these events, at New Year and the inaugural monthly event at the beginning of March. The venue, The Bedroom Bar , is ideally suited – it is a bit of maze, which helps to create the ‘speakeasy’ vibe.  The main room is downstairs, and at first glance it appears that this is the full extent of the place, but in fact recent refurbishments opened up a staircase which gives access to the upper level. Here you will find another dancefloor, plus the ‘chillout room’ or Kasbah Bar, where you can relax on comfy sofas amid Moroccan-style furnishings . The corner of this area has been curtained off to create the bedroom in the name of the bar – this is reserved for private bookings. The higgledy-pigglydy nature of the venue help to create a sense of space too.
When I attend an electro-swing event I am there to dance, and at the most recent event I found that the main room was too crowded for me. I was desperate to see the performance by Bart and Baker (who have played at events for Dita Von Teese and Marc Jacobs), but I had to vacate fairly quickly as the crush was hindering me. That that I did catch was fantastic - really great beats and a lovely swing, so it was a bit of a shame that it was so crowded. It is to be expected of course, so I certainly don't see it as a negative, it just doesn't suit my more, shall we say, expansive style of dancing.
Most of my time was spent upstairs, enjoying the tunes that Chris Tofu was playing and making the most of the extra space (there was only one incident, when one of my friends, Madame Catastrophe, had an encounter with a pillar - this may have been partly my fault, though the booze helped). Spending time in this room worked in my favour, as the Hon. Rumple Fuddly has worked at festivals with Mr. Tofu. Thanks to this connection I was introduced to not only Chris, but also to Wayne - the venue owner, and, joy of joys, to Bart and Baker themselves.
Wayne is a big fan of electro-swing, and there was one thing that he said to me that really sums up the appeal of the genre. He told me “[White Mink] is one of my favourite nights – everyone gets really into it, the people are fantastic. I love the fancy dress, the performers and the atmosphere.”
Speaking to Bart and Baker was a definite highlight for me. These top-hatted gentlemen are amongst the most important DJs in the genre at the moment – their celebrity connections as mentioned above are influential in spreading the word into the world of media luvvies, thus helping to bring the music to the attention of a wider audience. They were extremely friendly, as can be seen from the position of the Hon R-F in the last picture of this facebook album.
I am hoping that this could result in an interview feature with Bart and Baker – watch this space!
The next White Mink event is this weekend, Saturday 7th April, and the line up features Natty Congeroo & The Flames of Rhythm, Madame Electrifeie, Don Dapper of Swing Zazou, Nico Bently and The World's Tallest DJ, plus cabaret acts, black and white movie visuals, swing classes and an official photographer. At the time of writing there are still tickets available - I look forward to seeing you there!

Lots of love,