Festival of Sins’ move to the 1000-capacity Den & Centro on October 9 proved to me that this event was indeed ready to make the transition “from pub night to club night” as one commentator has described it.
The new venue, at the top of Drury Lane in London’s Covent Garden, presented promoters Lustreality with a great opportunity to show London just what they could do if they had the chance to transpose the live- entertainment-packed FoS concept to a venue with more space (and spaces) than Camden’s Purple Turtle, which the event had clearly outgrown.
And what this relaunch night demonstrated — to an audience evidently including many people sampling FoS for the first time — was a simple truth that FoS diehards have known for quite a while. Which is that the sheer quantity and freshness of the entertainment served up by these folk in a single night leaves most other alternative/fetish nights at the starting blocks.
Now that FoS has positioned itself more centrally in the spotlight, a lot more people will doubtless discover that only Torture Garden’s bigger parties match Festival of Sins events for the number and variety of kinky stage shows and sideshows you can see in one night.
Of course, onstage and sideshow entertainment isn’t the only measure of a fetish event’s appeal; indeed, some London fetish-clubbers regard any formal entertainment at an event as an unnecessary distraction from what they really want to be doing.
FoS isn’t really aimed at that kind of clubber: it is pitched primarily at people who want a friendly, non-threatening social space, who really do appreciate having a clutch of alternative acts to watch, and who value being able to see them before rival clubs have even noticed they exist.
That said, however, it was always the intention of these promoters, as soon as they got themselves a bigger venue, to cater to the player contingent by adding a play space — the lack of which at the Purple Turtle had seen them dismissed in certain purist quarters as “not a real fetish club”.
But even FoS weren’t quite prepared for just how popular the play space at their first Den night would turn out to be. As a result, players will, I understand, be given more space in December — one of several layout tweaks whose desirability only became obvious on the night, as is often the case.
Some of the crowd at the relaunch party had evidently got their first taste of the Den (the underground part of this multi-level venue complex) from attending the Night of Venus there a fortnight previously.
Unfortunately, because FoS brought everyone in through the Den entrance, some of these people were rather slow to discover that there was an upper level where all the main onstage entertainment was taking place. This, I’m assured, is a problem that will also be addressed for the next night, on December 11.
With luck, another December tweak will be the opening to the public of the mezzanine level, which had to be used on the first night as a model and performer dressing area. This relaxed space with its comfy seating and bar is the perfect chill-out area and it would be nice to see it used as such.
For the vast majority who scoped out the venue and found their way to the main performance area, the reward was a wealth of entertainment comprising bands, fashion shows and divers alternative acts — all hosted by the inimitable Mister J.
Those who found the main performance area were rewarded with a wealth of entertainment: bands, fashion and divers alternative acts
Live music was provided by Natubella, XES-1 and Sister Suicide, while fashion came courtesy of current Fetishistas cover stars Rubber55 (in a show curated by us, and their first ever club appearance), plus Nyuszi’s Dimensionis dancewear label and more rubber from Violaceous Latex.
Other notable performances on the main stage included the international debut of fetish dance troupe Feterati Girls and a tribal fusion sword-dance show from very bendy belly dancer Leah Debrincat.
Downstairs, meanwhile, one could find such distractions as AndyH’s photo studio, Dee Bee’s violet wand installation and, in the night’s final live spot, Yusura Hime’s amazing self-candle-waxing show — not to mention stints on the decks from Torture Garden DJs Allen TG and The Secretary.
As someone trying to photograph as much of the evening as possible, I would have found this line-up alone enough to keep me busy. But I also found myself stepping into the breach as official photographer for a posse of Bizarre magazine’s Ultravixens, whose mission was to go out among the audience and get themselves photographed with a cross-section of guests.
Strangely, there was no shortage of people willing to pose with these glamourpusses. And so enthusiastically did the girls go about their task that all I had to do was wait for them to grab their next victim, then point the camera and press the shutter button. Yeah, it’s a dirty job. Personally I’m just grateful that I invested in an expensive lens with an effective anti-shake mechanism.
Even though the last performance happened pretty late, it didn’t prompt the sort of wholesale exodus that you often see when shows finish in a club. Plenty of people stayed on to dance or chill and a good few were evidently intent on taking full advantage of the 7am finish time — another FoS innovation with this new venue.
Staging your first performance as early as 9.30pm and finishing at 7am does constitute a rather long night, though, and there has to be some concern that not that many people are going to do the whole stretch unless they’re obliged to by working there in some capacity.
But if people take onboard that the new Festival of Sins is now really two nights for the price of one — a full evening of top-class entertainment fused with a serious party-till-dawn clubbing opportunity —it should be possible to adjust expectations and pacing accordingly.
The next FoS at the Den & Centro on December 11 is the club’s Christmas special and is themed around sloth, a not-inappropriate choice given what most of us tend to do at Christmas. The event will once again feature a bewildering array of entertainment which we’ll be detailing in a separate article.
But if you like the FoS take on talent showcasing, you don’t have to wait that long for another taste. Promoters Lustreality have just announced an eight-week season of burlesque and cabaret showcase nights called Sin And The City, taking place every Wednesday, starting on October 27, at Proud Cabaret, 1 Mark Lane, London EC3 (close to Fenchurch Street station).
All this new activity suggests that Lustreality’s persistence with the Seven Deadly Sins concept is at last paying off for them. Their remit may be broader than just fetish, but there’s a kinky heart beating at the centre of everything they do, and their effort to create something substantial and fetish-friendly but different from standard fetish fare finally seems to be getting the audience it deserves.
More FoS content to come! Use the links above left to get more details of the upcoming events mentioned above
FoS is now really two nights for the price of one: a full evening of top entertainment fused with a serious party-till- dawn clubbing opportunity