We were lost again. Oh why had I decided to just throw ourselves into central London and assume we would find our way? In The Crown on New Oxford Street we supped trendy cider and distracted ourselves with a fashion assessment of the Shorebitch geek behind the bar. The Timmy Mallet glasses got me into enough of a rage to make me forget we weren’t at the Festival of Sins yet.
I need to learn tolerance. I need to sever my ties with international fascists, we’re a global village now. My companion Charley egged us on out, eager to show off her new Atsuko Kudo Bolero top. For this is a big reason why so many kinksters ‘exhibit’ themselves, they need a place to affirm their purchases and allegiance to the scene. Her urgent eyes spurred me to trust my instincts that the guys in the bar were onto something when they waved their fingers up with a south-easterly flourish and nailed our destination with the proclamation: ‘Reckon its that way, we think. Yeah, try that way!’
I thought The Den and Centro would be more well-known, or is it that you don’t really find locals in the middle of London on a Saturday night? As it was, down the next side-road there was the promised projection of the Festival of Sins stiletto logo on the opposite wall. Charley and I were excited having been hyped up by the great reviews from Bizarre magazine and Time Out. Mostly they talked of an intense programme of events and the cross-sexual openness of the night. Flounce in dress-up nights is always fun or funny, and tonight with the theme of Wrath we were to experience extra helpings of ire and passion.
You had to give the club a massive credit for the effort; while changing we could overhear the internal politics of performers kicking off – in my experience this was always a sign that people cared. And there was a lot to care about. Three bands (including the electro of Sister Suicide), three fashion shows, art installations and fetish booths, stalls, a photo studio, free goodie-bags, free latex Reshining from Pjur, plus the obligatory play areas and plethora of notabale DJs (with Torture Garden’s Allen TG no less). At no point did we walk into a room and find nothing going on, it was a riot for the visual senses.
Having been spun through a few circuits we stayed awhile to watch Carli Jefferson and her extraordinarily bonkers re-enactment of ‘anger requests’. My pointed wind-up for Charley: ‘Frustration at human emotions being projected onto cats’ was done so precisely in its comic blur of furious expression that she laughed immediately in recognition at my ‘pet’ hate.
The Rubber 55 fashion show debut was another highlight for us latex enthusiasts, its style more suited to practising BDSMers than just for clubbing and show. (Check out my links in this direction on my news post at 3xL). Just after we caught the chintzy but surprising charms of The Feterati Girls, who turned a dance routine into a raucous and inventive shibari-inflected variety turn, buoyed on by an infectious and flirtatious girliness.
The club itself was a cracking venue but to my mind could have supported the splendid aspirations of the Festival better. Advertised to go on till seven am the upstairs bar shut at two am. Maybe the Den and Centro had licence issues, but they could have easily made a few grand more had they stayed open. This forced bodies to hang around downstairs in the play area, unfortunately positioned on the mezzanine through-way level between dancefloors, and thus the bustle occasionally compromised play and the space to watch.
Spotting a few shirts-out lads, I made a mental note to not to rubber up too much next time. As with all first time visits to a club night, I guess one has to find the right pitch for future visits. Festival of Sins’s dresscode is optional, which meant anyone could walk in, a device to increase revenue flow and promote inclusiveness, no doubt. With more fetish nights than ever in a time of recession this is perhaps becoming increasingly necessary, though without being snobby I had come expecting not to see the back-of-the-bus brigade. I have since been told the excellent news that Festival of Sins won’t be letting in anyone who doesn’t at make some kind of effort. The next one will be themed ‘Sloth’ and takes place on Saturday December 11th, so lets hope the devil finds some other mischief for those idle in the wardrobe department.
In conclusion it seemed to me Festival of Sins ‘Wrath’ was a good-time celebration of alternative culture – and an above-average one at that – rather than a hardcore BDSM night for extremists like myself. I know I should learn to be more tolerant. Dear readers, Charley has since punished me for this. After which, yes I punished her back, but she has since punished me some more.
By Jackson Rocco
Photos by Rah www.rahrah.info