Speakeasy serves up some riotous jazz and flapper style fusion, Getintothis’ Marie Boon dons her 1920s glad rags while working her pendulum legs.
Ninety three years may have passed since prohibition made sippin’ on gin and juice while getting jiggy to jazz the height of criminal-chic activity.
But Liverpool’s still dancing and drinking like it might be the last chance we get before Al Capone busts a cap in our ass.
Ok, so hip-hop might not have passed us by unnoticed either but this urban-vintage fusion is totally working for us.
Our journey back in time starts at 8pm with Mersey Swing, who teach us everything we need to know for a night on the tiles, flapper-style. From ‘the jockey’ to ‘pendulum legs’, we tap and slide until we’re all dizzy, but thanks to a relaxed atmosphere and a professional, charismatic instructor, everyone’s got the hang of it by the end of the class.
We’ve enjoyed the traditional swing-time tracks throughout but trying the routine to a bassy electro-swing tune to close, really gives us a taste of things to come.
The next hour or so feels particularly authentic as we schmooze between the absinthe bar, gypsy face-painting caravan and original gangster poker table, watching as the Kazimier gradually fills up with guys and dolls in their 20s gladrags, then watching as they gradually fill up with liquor.
Either everyone’s tripping over their spats or there’s some super strength moonshine going around, ‘cos no one seems capable of navigating the stairs tonight.
Suddenly the crowd’s Hips go Wild, and as all 15 band members take to the stage, you can’t help but think what an unlikely rabble The Fire Beneath the Sea really are.
But there is nothing better in life than being taken by surprise, so why shouldn’t a grown man in a Hawaiian shirt play the jazz flute while four lads in Trilby hats rap in broad Scouse?
Despite barely being able to fit on the stage, each member contributes something unique, and is essential to the final product: a post-modern festival of quirk, which epitomises all that is Speakeasy, and in fact, the Kazimier.
A special hats-off to the drummer, who smashes a couple of solos and must have some serious skill to keep all that lot together, despite claims that “all you need is rhythm and a little bit of swing.”
These lads have got so much energy and movement that you just don’t know where to look, and each pause between songs looks like a perfectly framed tableau.
You think it can’t get much better than that until they play their trump card- a new female member struts out and steals the show with stunning vocals for their latest tune, Phuxebtelty. They 100% pull it off and the crowd is left wanting more.
Soon Riot Jazz arrive and immediately spark interest with a little chorus of The Human League‘s Don’t You Want Me.
The brass band are really tight and give a sterling funked-up rendition of classics like Watermelon Man.
FBTS are a hard act to follow and the first set doesn’t quite maintain the energy levels they’d left behind, but the crowd are a movin’ and a shakin’ nonetheless and this is where our Mersey Swing moves are put to the test.
All of a sudden people are clambering on shoulders as the brass belts out Aha, and everyone in the room screams Take On Me with hysterical gusto.
It’s a sight to behold. They turn things up a notch in the second set, and as MC Chunky successfully works the crowd into a frenzy, the Sousamaphone really comes into it’s own providing that deep, bassy backdrop to the rest of the band.
The instrument fully deserves to have a whole song dedicated to it, and one of the band’s best at that. We’re also treated to the more Balkan-style Bulgarian Chicks before they go out with an agro-jazz bang to the tune of Livin’ On A Prayer.
Playing between sets and closing the night, The Chicken Brothers are as hot as ever and really keep us on our toes. Tune selection is spot on- with an electro-swing remix of No Diggety to name but one example – and Dogspocket‘s scratching is sublime.
Of course when two lads in braces sporting award-winning muzzies and doing the chicken dance take to the decks, you know it’s gonna be finger lickin’ good. But boys, next time we’d like to see you do Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon as flappers, so we can truly say that Some Like It-Hop.
Photography by Andrew AB.