Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Gross Indecency - The Annual Duckie Ball, Camden Town Hall

I don't know where to start?! We had the time of our lives with this! I believe most of you are aware that both me and Phil are proud Duckie fans?! We absolutely love that club night.

OK, best to start at the start eh! Duckie was holding its annual Duckie Ball on the Saturday night of London's Gay Pride weekend, as per every year. For 2010 it was themed as an illicit 1960's underground pre-gay liberation club before the sexual offences bill was passed which legalised homosexual acts in private for consenting adults over 21. All attendees were asked to wear 1960's clothing. Me and Phil had such a time trying to find anything decent to wear so sadly were not in costume :( We've made a strong mental note to prepare FAR earlier for next year's event mind you!

Amy Lame and her merry Duckie posse struck gold by choosing to hold the event at the Camden Town Hall in King's Cross, it was just perfect. In order to get in, when purchasing the tickets, you're issued with a key and a password.

As per 'hidden' 1960's gay clubs you used a special key to open the first door and then were required to knock on the main door where a little peep hole opened up, you gave your password and were then allowed into the club itself. Sadly I didn't manage to get a photo of the fabulous Jay Cloth on the main door, sorry Jay. For those not in the know, the doors at Duckie at the Royal Vauxhall Tarvern are manned by 'The Cloths' who take your entry cash and stamp your hand. Jay is such a lovely guy, always dressed up to the nines in weird and wonderful guises, I've made a note to take a photo of him the next time we go to a normal Duckie night for you all.

Once in you're hit by the cavernous 1960's hall/ballroom, could Duckie have found a better venue? No, I think not. It's hard not to know where to look, huge dancefloor, a catwalk, 1960's podium dancers, The Readers Wifes DJs pumping out 1960's tunes (more on this later), long bar and of course the crowd all largely in 1960's outfits, it was just amazing!.

Before getting into this further I really must introduce the lady who makes Duckie possible, Amy Lame, seen here getting on down on a podium (There's a video to follow once it's converted and subtitled!!!).

This night is all her fault!!!! Now moving on, back to The Readers Wifes DJs, Chelsea Kelsey (the blond one) and Kim Phaggs (the dark one), for this evening known as 'Sylvie and Rube', perfectly in check.

They are the resident Duckie DJs, and I would like to have you all know that most of the London clubland owe these two some seriously big favours. These two were the first to mix such eclectic music, 80's electronica and alternative bands, they absolutely rock the nights at Duckie and this evening was no exception. They had their research absolutely bang on, a full set of 1960's songs, it was absolutely astounding, so a big well deserved 'THANK YOU' to those guys.

Not only had they worked their hearts out on this event they also put together a free CD for the ticket holders. They were put together with 60's tunes interspersed with interviews and sound bites about gay life and club scene in the 60's, the amount of research they have done is phenomenal.

Amy opened the night out on the catwalk, welcoming us all and giving a brief talk about 1960's clubs. The age range of the people there were from those in their 20's right up to the people who were there back in the 1960's and further. We all owe them a lot you know, and this evening was in its way a tribute to 'those who had gone before'. As soon as Amy left the stage we were treated to Dusty Springfield going through her hits.

*Sighs* it was such a magical night. After Dusty had finished we explored the hall, finding the nooks and crannies. Once you leave the main ballroom you're straight into a hairdressers where you can have your hair done in the latest 1960's styles.

Further on you have the Piano Bar, with the lounge singer (who was just superb). Again the piano bar is laid out as it would have been in the 1960's, the Duckie team had paid a LOT of attention to the details.

We stayed for a wee while and then went back to the main hall to be taken by surprise as the 1960's police had raided the club and were in the process of arresting everybody for gross indecency!

Needless to say they were all thoroughly heckled by everyone and, almost as expected, they stripped off their tops and went straight into performing 'Walk Like a Man' and 'Downtown'

(There is a higher resolution version of this on YouTube here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KIB1lVnG5yE )

Dotted around were three podiums for The Actionettes dance troupe, the amount of energy these girls had put everyone else to shame.

Evening progressed and there was no let up, we were treated to a fashion show and the fabulous Actionettes dancers on the main catwalk showing everyone how it's all done.

Fashion show aside it was the people attending who completely stole the show, I'm disappointed that we didn't get more photo's, however to our defence the music was just too good not to dance to. There were some fabulous costumes being worn, many of which must have taken a very long time to put together, I think these two were some of the main stand outs there, that dress was absolutely superbly put together.

Of course with the football world cup going on at the same time one guy had the stroke of sheer genius to go in the 1960's team strip, very worthy.

And you can't have a 1960's event without the Hollywood stars Joan Crawford and Bette Davis, 'Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?'.

Across the cider fuelled haze we spent most of the night dancing along to Frankie Valli, Dusty Springfield, Shirley Ellis (yes, it was 'The Clapping Song'!), Petula Clark, The Velvettes ('Needle in a Haystack' cue: Phil beaming as it's one of his favourite songs from the era!), Sandie Shaw, Tina Turner, The Ronettes, The Shirelles, The Crystals, The Shangri-Las, The Five Du-Tones, et al. It was an absolute ball. The Readers Wifes were amazing not only playing the mainstream acts of the time but also the little known/forgotten groups as well, it was, well, 'WOW!'. Me and Phil were just amazed, how much research had these guys put into the music, all I can say is 'mind blowing'!

In order not to let people there forget those who had gone before the Duckie team had put together a booklet of stories by the people around at the time detailing not only the hedonism but also the persecution of gays in that era.

Neither of us wanted the night to end, it was just so good.

Amy followed up the evening with a special talk show about the 1960's at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern on the 7th July. This revealed the social architecture of the 60's gay scene in London, it included sixties scenesters providing eyewitness accounts of the twilight world of the queer London underground.

Hats off to Amy Lame, The Readers Wifes, there's so many people involved who all pulled together to make this event happen. John Geddes for the concept, Simon and Dickie from Duckie, The Actionettes and The Police Squad (still can't get over the amount of energy The Actionettes have!), Russel Harris and his team for the Piano Bar and of course Michelle Moran for her dulcet tones there, not forgetting the hairdressers Sami Knight and Leila Mauro (of Nina's Hair Parlour for those in the know!).

So many other people, and it was obvious that everyone had worked their arses off to make it such a successful night, all we can say is a huge "THANK YOU" for such an amazing night! It was simply brilliant.

We'll be back next year!!!

1 comment:

  1. Hurrah

    What a fab night

    I hope next year's can match this one