I've been hearing a lot of frantic whispers and excitable rumours about White Mink for some time and I thought it was about time I finally ventured out to see what all the fuss was about – and boy, I wasn't disappointed. The Old Market was a perfect choice for the event as it has a certain air of elegance and far better suited than most venues for a night filled with classic Electro Swing and traditional Speakeasy music.
As I walked into the bar at TOM, I was astounded but the number of people who had thrown themselves into dressing up for the occasion. White Mink actually state on their website that whilst they don’t enforce a dress code, they do highly recommend one which adds both to the atmosphere and everyone’s overall enjoyment of the night – and they weren’t wrong! I felt we’d travelled back in time yet with the benefits of innovative modern lighting design and stunning sound systems.
In the bar area before the main room opened up, White Mink treated us to a performance by a mime trio who were donned in the full 20’s attire and did a good job of getting the waiting crowd engaged and in the mood to enter the main room for the evening's entertainment. White Mink's careful musical planning began with gentle, classic 1920s swing (which consequently sparked off some impressive dancing amongst audience) before leading into 'live music' and ending with bass-heavy electro swing at the end of the night. White Mink created the perfect recipe to keep the crowd elevated throughout the night.
Another nice touch to the evening was the main stage where a team of artists from Department of Brilliant AV created an excellent film installation with multiple screens in keeping with the Electroswing/speakeasy theme which dazzled us for the entire night. Their innovative set design and projections also added to the whole atmosphere as well.
The first live band was Natty Congeroo & The Flames of Rhythm who seduced us with some traditional swing music. The lead singer ‘Natty’ was dress to the nines in a white tailcoat and sporting some incredibly shiny Spatz. Natty Congeroo & The Flames of Rhythm resembled Cab Calloway so much that I almost felt that I had travelled back to 1930s New York. Their live performance and array of top class musicians proved to be the perfect way to start off the evening!
There followed a brief interlude which was filled by the miming trio once again who performed a 5 minute show and ending with them holding up a black board announcing the next band The Sweet Life Society – which was a nice touch as it helped the transitions between artists making the night an event rather than just a music gig.
The Sweet Life Society came next and were certainly a spectacle to behold, an Italian based eight-piece whose infectious rhythms and electro swing melodies got the whole room dancing with their quirky performance. It was great to see a band as excellent as The Sweet Life Society, especially as I’d never come across them before and will certainaly see them again when they next visit our shores. At midnight, White Mink turned into a DJ set with the marvellous Nick Hollywood behind the decks who played some truly excellent electro swing, some of which I knew well and others I was pleased to discover. However, as the clock struck midnight, I found that a lot of people seemed to disappear form the venue. I wondered whether this was due to the average age group on the night or maybe it was a little too late on a Friday night for some people who had been at work all day and had to get back for babysitters and suchlike.
But all in all, White Mink are certainly masters of putting on an excellent evenings entertainment, although I would have liked to have been kept there longer with another live performance. Nonetheless I will certainly be buying my tickets as soon as possible for the next show as they consistently sell out – it’s a truly brilliant night!