A couple of weeks ago a bright pink marquee appeared in Market Square, Nottingham, and the Ladyboys of Bangkok brought a touch of glamour to the city centre.
When they went on their merry way, a new structure replaced it – The Magnificent Spiegeltent – and it promised delights for all the family.
Over two weeks it hosted comedy, music, circus workshops, and much more. We went for the much more… we went for the x-rated burlesque. Oh, come on, don’t knock it till you’ve tried it :).
The Spiegeltent did, indeed, turn out to be nothing short of Magnificent. It was like walking into a cross between a spaghetti western saloon, a smokey jazz bar and a circus tent. Round, with seating in the middle, there was a stage at 12 o’clock and a bar at 6 o’clock. Lines of seating filled the middle of the marquee but around the edge was wooden-booth seating. All of the tables in the booths had signs on them, most of which said reserved. We found one, however, that simply said ‘this booth is designed for six people, if you’re a smaller party, be prepared to share’. We were prepared to share so we sat there. We were joined by another couple and we had a great view.
The walls of the spiegeltent were metal and wood and stained glass windows met the roof area which was swathed with drapes and looked amazing. The bar was pricey – well they’ve got you cornered haven’t they – and there was a £3 refundable deposit for the plastic cups. But, actually the plastic cups were funky and we liked them, so we kept them instead. I do not feel guilty, I bet the organisers can buy 10 replacements with the £6 we paid for them and they look much better in my kitchen.
The audience was diverse: there were couples, mixed groups, single sex groups, veterans of burlesque, burlesque virgins (like us), straight, gay, old and young. some people had dressed for the occasion, like Phill’s new friend pictured with him above (and with her partner below)…
Others, like us, turned up a bit casual.
The evening was presented by The Gilded Merkin that usually performs at Nottingham’s Glee Club – in fact we have tickets to see a show next month.
Our very lovely host sang and entertained between acts. One of his songs told the audience to cheer loudly as the artistes removed their clothing… and also warned them to keep their hands to themselves. This wasn’t a sex den after all, this was burlesque (definition: a variety show typically including striptease). It’s an art form to be observed and not fondled.
He did another song to Elvis’s Devil in Disguise. ‘You look like a brunette, you walk like a brunette, you talk like a brunette but I’ve got eyes – you’re a ginger in disguise, oh yes you are, a ginger in disguise). It got ruder than that but I’m already including bare naked ladies so I’ll refrain.
Guess what happened to all these balloons. Go on, guess. Yep, they all got popped. She was wearing very little underneath. This is Miss Scarlett Daggers, performer and producer.
This guy juggled ping pong balls from his mouth. He got up to five in total. He also juggled knives while balanced on a board on a rolling barrel and he looked alarmingly close to the front row if he just happened to slip. The front row didn’t seem that bothered – they had confidence in him.
And this Donald Trump drag was hilarious especially when removing the clothing.
Some of the acts were funny, some were exotic dancers, some were variety. It was fun, raucous in places, sensual in others and I’ve never seen more nipple tassels in my life. Well, to be fair, I do not have a huge amount of experience when it comes to nipple tassels, but there you go. This, incidentally, is the paragraph which will prove or disprove whether my daughters read my blog. If they’ve got this far, I shall expect a couple of ‘oh my god mother’ messages shortly.
It was a fab evening, hugely entertaining, funny and enjoyed by an appreciative audience (it was sold out, by the way) and, as I’ve already said, we are already looking forward to seeing another Gilded Merkin show in June.
I love the fact there is also something new and diverse to see in this city. The only problem I have is fitting it all in. I’ve been a resident of Nottingham for 11 months tomorrow and, although I have packed a fair amount in, I haven’t even scratched the surface.
I love this city.