REVIEW: Hot Club de Swing – Festival Tea Party @ Hare & Hounds, June 21st

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Review by Katherine Priddy / Pics by Katie Foulkes

It’s a balmy summer’s eve with blue skies and a warm breeze, the first in a while, and as I get ready with the window open I can smell a BBQ coming from somewhere up the road.

It’s a tempting night to be outside, and not to abandon the sunlight and cram yourself into a small, dark room with sweaty strangers.

But that’s exactly what I plan to do, for tonight hails another Hot Club de Swing at the Hare & Hounds; a fairly regular Brum event hosted by the Electric Swing Circus, Birmingham’s very own electro swing band.

E_Hot Club_Hare & Hounds_210613 (021) - LRWhat is electro swing, I hear you ask? It’s a blend of 1920s swing music and electronic dance beats, and for those who haven’t experienced it (and for the sceptics) the combination sounds like it shouldn’t work but it really, really does.  So I attach my feathery fascinator to my hair, apply a final coat of red lipstick, slip my notebook into my bag and I’m ready to go.

I arrive embarrassingly early; and, after hiding in the loos for a while until the doors open, I am the first person upstairs in the H&H’s larger room.  However people soon trickle in, and I’m pleased to see have, on the whole, made the most of the 1920’s dress code – with many a moustache, swing dress and pair of braces providing a tell-tale sign of the night to come. E_Hot Club_Hare & Hounds_210613 (045) - LR

As more people arrive the speakers begin to play some original 1920’s swing music; a gentle start to the evening. The beauty of this kind of event and genre of music is that it’s got a small but dedicated following, and the people here often embrace the 1920’s in other areas of their lives.

Therefore it is not surprising to see the odd couple taking to the empty dance floor and showing off their skills at 1920’s lindy hop dancing.

I do a little of this dance and it’s not long before I join them. Albeit rather clumsily, it’s a rare opportunity to do some social dancing with other like minded people, and I notice the slowly gathering guests stand by and watch with a certain envy as some of the better dancers twirl and swing.

The combination of the dress code, the dancing and the music creates a very authentic atmosphere; something that makes Hot Club incredibly special. And despite the still small crowd, there’s an undercurrent of excitement and charged energy as the first band take to the stage.

E_Hot Club_Hare & Hounds_210613 (075) - LRSam Green & the Midnight Heist are a rather handsome band, consisting of four young men playing a mixture of southern, bluesy, rootsy music, with a double bassist (who looked effortlessly cool), impressive guitar picking and good use of a harmonica.

Halfway through the set there is a noticeable change in the room and the crowd move closer, the pace picks up, and I find myself twirling my feather boa – a sure sign that the night has begun.

As Sam Green draws to a close, I look around and notice the room has filled up considerably and I am struck by the sheer quantity of handsome, bearded blokes.  Hot Club boasts ‘one of the best dressed crowds’ and they aren’t wrong. It’s a mixture of dreadlocks, beards, braces, feathers, swing dresses, fascinators and top hats. E_Hot Club_Hare & Hounds_210613 (052) - LR

A male friend, who for his dignity will remain anonymous, is also rather overwhelmed by the glamorous array of top totty, and as the room grows more and more packed, the atmosphere becomes truly outstanding – everywhere I look people dressed up in their 1920’s glad rags are awkwardly dancing in braces and re-sticking fake moustaches.

It’s also worth noting the variety in ages. Hot Club isn’t reserved for 20 something animals, there’s a wide range of ages, all packed together as we take a trip back in time.  And I use the word ‘packed’ literally, as the room is absolutely rammed by the time the first DJ, C@ in the H@, takes to the decks.

E_Hot Club_Hare & Hounds_220613 (151) - LRThe hosts themselves, Electric Swing Circus, are on stage next, and get the crowd even more fired up with their high energy electro swing and clever female close harmony singers.

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Tom Hyland, the guitarist for the band and compere for the evening, then makes the unfavourable announcement that this is the last Hot Club before September. There a boo from the crowd, followed by a murmur of genuine consternation. But this is quickly quelled by an encore, and I hear some enthusiastic boys behind me declaring they ‘can’t believe we’ve never come before’ and that it’s ‘absolutely sick’

Tonight’s atmosphere is infectiously electric, and as the alcohol continues to flow and the crowd continues to pulse, I put my notebook into my bag, wrap my feather boa firmly around my neck and get lost in a genuine Hot Club success.

And to be fair, it’s hard not to be swept up in the energy, peculiarity and pure debauchery of this night; with its friendly, eccentric crowd, and music that’s impossible to stand still to.

Tonight’s atmosphere is infectiously electric, and as the alcohol continues to flow and the crowd continues to pulse, I put my notebook into my bag, wrap my feather boa firmly around my neck and get lost in a genuine Hot Club success.

For more on Hot Club de Swing, visit https://www.facebook.com/hotclubdeswing

For more on the Electric Swing Circus, visit http://www.electricswingcircus.com/

For more on Sam Green, visit http://www.samgreenandthemidnightheist.com

For further event listings at the Hare & Hounds, visit http://hareandhoundskingsheath.co.uk/

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