February saw the first date of White Mink’s new quarterly residency at Village Underground in Shoreditch. Gifted a couple of guestlist spots by Nick Hollywood (he of Freshly Squeezed records and the man behind the White Mink brand), I had no hesitation in getting down there for a bit of a boogie.
For those of you who haven’t been to Village Underground, let me set the scene. Imagine a turn-of-the-century warehouse built of red brick, complete with arched vaults. Put in a stage at one end, a couple of bars, and there you have it. The space is what you might call a blank canvass. The capacity is around 1000.
When my friend Sarah and I arrived at around 11, (sadly meaning that we had missed the live performance by the Squirrel Nut Zippers) it must have been nearing that number. The huge dancefloor was a sea of bodies writhing and wriggling to the sounds of DJ Chris Tofu. Regular readers of the blog will know that I am a big fan of Chris. Regardless of whether other DJs have better skills, Chris has an amazing taste in music and his tune selections are spot on. He really reads the crowd and responds to their energy. This is very much a two-way process, and he was his usual enthusiastic self behind the decks.
Next came the first performance from Burlesque lady Empress Stah. I usually find these performances a little samey, but her routine, suspended from a chandelier, was genuinely impressive, more acrobatics than burlesque. Having said that, she was more or less naked, so I suppose it qualifies.
Following Empress Stah came Kid Kasino and his live band, my stand-out performers of the night. Fronted by the elegant Shea Soul, who has a voice like treacle being dripped onto a pert bottom, they delivered a set of brassy and, yes, soulful tunes, all underlaid by Kid’s perfectly crafted beats.
I must confess that by the end of Kid Kasino’s set I was somewhat non compos mentis and that the rest of the night is something of a blur. I know, from a process of elimination, that French DJ duo Bart and Baker were up next and played through to the close. Even at 3am there were still plenty of people in the venue, all tripping the light fantastic toe, albeit with different levels of grace and skill.
If I had any criticism to make it would be that they could have done more to decorate the space – with such a great room to work with it would have been nice if the place had been dressed up a bit, especially given the effort that most attendees had been to with their outfits. I remember going to the Blitz Party back in the mists of time and the great effort they went to to create an atmosphere through decoration as well as through the music.
It must be said that this event is far more about what we might call ‘classic electro-swing’, that is to say house-based. If you are into the kind of stuff that Madame Electrifie, Dutty Moonshine and C@ in the H@ play out then you would be better off heading to Electric Empire.
On a social note, it was great to see Elle and the Pocketbelles in full party mode having joined Bart and Baker on stage. Lil’ Michaela (mwah) was about to head off on a trip to the USA, so they were very much going for it. I also had nice chats with Kid Kasino, Nick Hollywood, Jon Bongly and Chris Tofu. Nick was in an especially ebullient mood, understandably given that he had sold out yet another show.
The next White Mink event is to be held on May 3rd – more details can be found here.