The first Against Nature took place without any deaths. The acts were all splendid, and it was lovely to see so many friends, many of whom I’d not seen for a while.
My main obstacle was simply getting a decent crowd to turn up. There were 35 paying people, which looked a bit sparse in a room with a capacity of 200, but then that was 35 more than I’d expected. It had, after all, only been booked with ten days to go.
The deal with the venue was that, on top of them taking the money from the bar, I had to also give them a flat fee of £50 from the door takings. In return, I got the room (a 200-year-old former horse hospital), with its own staffed bar and toilets and a fairly good-sounding PA with mics (though one or two of the cables were faulty and had to be replaced on the night), CD decks and a DJ mixer, a DVD player & screen, a dressing room, extra tables and chairs specially laid out, a security guard, a cashbox and float, and their PR services. They could also provide a sound engineer and door person, but I’d have to pay them extra. So I found ones who would do it for next to nothing. Or, as it turned out, for nothing.
The rest of the door takings I divided up among the acts and guest DJ. It was awkward to have to pay The Rude Mechanicals (who had to bring in all their amps and drums), Moonfish Rhumba, DJ Ally Moss and Barry & Stuart rather less than they usually get – B&S present their own TV shows on Channel 4, after all. But I hope they understood.
Thankfully Tricity Vogue did her set for free, as a belated (or early) birthday present for me. Ms Del Des Anges did sound tech duties gratis as a favour (and we both had to butch up and set up the PA from scratch, which was a shock), and Sarah Heenan took money on the door – in the cold outside – purely out of the goodness of her divine heart. I’m utterly grateful to them all.
I took no cash for myself. In fact, I lost money; through buying drinks for acts (the venue only provides free non-alcoholic drinks), buying a few props (silk petals, scented candles), and investing in my own DI box for the PA. Unless it becomes a sell-out night, Against Nature is going to be a pay-to-promote affair.
So, why am I bothering?
Because I get the chance to put on my favourite acts, sharing them with the world. Because coming up in July is a bill featuring a drag king singer and a ‘boy-lesque’ performance artist, alongside an eccentric indie band and a camp Eddie Izzard-esque comedian. I am confident there is nowhere else in the known universe with such a bill. If creativity is about Adding Unique Content, club promotion too can be a creative act.
And I’m doing it because I like the idea of carving out a little corner of Camden Town that is Dickon-shaped, for one night a month till September, if not forever.
And because, all the fiddly bits aside, it is Fun. I like Fun. I don’t know about you (I must stop saying this).
I shall definitely do it until September 1st. After that, either the venue will kick me out for not being fabulous enough, or I’ll find it too expensive or stressful or time-consuming to keep doing. Only one way to find out.
The experience has left me with a newfound respect for promoters and PR people at every level. It’s hard enough to persuade friends to come along to your event, let alone strangers.
In many ways, I am just the sort of person ill-suited to club promotion: I’m aloof, passive, stand-offish, lazy, and do not regard myself as a normal member of the human race. I believe the best way to persuade people to do things is to leave them alone and just… live in hope.
Perversely, I believe this is exactly why I should have a go at club promotion.
But Kevin Costner lied to me. If you book it, they will not necessarily come. You have to tell people. And tell them, and tell them, and tell them. It’s such a leap of faith.
I have also learned that the Facebook Events utility can be misleading. The FB event page for the May 5th night said 139 people had ‘Confirmed’ they were attending. Foolishly, I believed this would actually would be the case on the night. But then, more than a few of those who’d ‘Confirmed’ appeared to be near-naked young men and women, with model looks, perfect bodies and addresses in the Philippines. Looking further, their own list of FB friends seemed to be suspiciously meagre. I have learned that it you book it, there will be spam.
This time I’ve managed to inform about 20 different listings organisations, and have had posters and flyers printed. They look like this:
(Designed by Jo Bevan, image found by Maud Young: more favours from friends)
If you know of somewhere in London which would display a poster or provide a space for a small pile of flyers, please do get in touch.
Finally, here’s the listing for the next Against Nature, on June 2nd. Please pass it on. The live acts are superb and unique, and they really, really deserve an audience.
Weds June 2nd, 8pm to 1am.
Proud Camden (South Gallery),
The Horse Hospital, Stables Market,
Chalk Farm Rd, London NW1 8AH.
Tel: 020 7482 3867.
Dickon Edwards (Beautiful & Damned, Latitude) curates a twisted speakeasy for dressed-up dandies and vintage vamps. Dance to a decadent mix of easy listening, showtunes, pastiche pop, and all that deviant jazz. Plus a suitably eclectic yet aesthetic gaggle of live acts. Every first Weds of the month in Proud Camden’s South Gallery.
LIVE ON WEDS JUNE 2ND:
THE MYSTERY FAX MACHINE ORCHESTRA
Singer-songwriter Martin White’s 20-piece ensemble, as featured on BBC4’s ‘Nerdstock’. “Wonderfully eccentric” – Time Out London.
THE VICHY GOVERNMENT
Polemic spoken-word synthpop, purveyors of such albums as ‘Carrion Camping’.
Burlesque performer of questionable sanity, fresh from her appearance as a guest star judge in this year’s Tournament of Tease.
MySpace: Crimson Skye
JINGO & BUTTERFIELD’S TALES OF THE EMPIRE
Victorian-themed improvised comedy, courtesy Fat Kitten Improv’s James Ross and Daniel Barker. Ripping yarns and tales of derring-do from the four corners of the globe.
Facebook: Fat Kitten Improv
Guest DJ: SOPHIA WYETH
Plus resident DJ & host DICKON EDWARDS
Live acts 9.30pm-11.45pm.
Dancing to 1am.
I’ve put up a batch of even cheaper tickets at WeGotTickets.com
Door charge: £5 before 10pm. £7 after.
NB: Latecomers may have to wait until an intermission between live acts.
DRESS CODE (optional but preferred): Vintage & dandy-esque.
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