Despite having consumed copious amounts of cheap red wine (think chip shop vinegar), a Long (and very strong) Island Ice Tea and almost non-existent glass of port*(*and mince pie for £8.45!) I have foolishly been tasked with the responsibility of regaling our devoted readership with the trials and tribulations of the [cue: drumroll and fireworks] Lyndales’ Christmas Party 2016.
It is only right that before I start I make it very clear that my memory of the night in question is a little hazy due to the said alcohols consumed in what can only be described as industrial quantities, but in my defence, it is Christmas - which is of course a legally valid excuse for all excesses in the month of December - and fear not, I shall be seeking full redemption in the form of my completely empty New Year’s resolutions.
In a break with the norm this year we opted for a shared venue experience at the Proud Cabaret Camden “Neo-Victorian” themed Christmas Party; promising "top quality burlesque and Cabaret in the company of superb food, wine and cocktail". Now at this juncture I must point out that I had no hand in choosing this venue - the credit for that must go to Sophie and Mary - and what a very brave and peculiar decision that was given the demographic of the firm, but who am I to pass comment; bravo girls.
The excitement as we left the office en masse at around 18:00 to get our pre-ordered cabs to Camden was palpable. When the cabs failed to materialised by 18:15 there was a noticeable dip in excitement given the cold and inclement weather, but our saviour came in the guise of the 168 bus to Chalk Farm. An everyman (and lady) for himself mentality took hold as a small group broke away and made a run for the bus, not wanting to waste another minute of the party.
Sadly, progress was slow on the 168; static in fact for a good 10 minutes before slowly building to the pace of chronically asthmatic snail that eventually delivered us, coughing and spluttering, to Camden Town, only marginally quicker than had we walked it.
But we didn’t care about that, we were finally at the venue which meant that Christmas had officially started [cue: fireworks and steamers]. We were led through a large red leather studded door (kinky!) into the dining room, come burlesque/cabaret walkway/stage. The décor can only be described as brothelesque (as seen on TV – not first-hand experience!) with black and red drapes adorning the black walls, chandeliers, candelabras, red leatherette cubicles, and dim to non-existent lighting.
We were shown to our table by a gentleman sporting a corset and the beginnings of what can only be described as cleavage - to his credit, he wore it well; rather him than me! Our party of 15 was sat at a long table for 12, which was cosy to say the least. The waitresses were wearing; well, very little actually. I can honestly say that I've never seen so much bare faced cheek in my life (quite literally!) - tiny thongs and leotards were the order of the day, which made for some very surreal moments, and even funnier photographs. At times it seemed the waitresses had forgotten quite how little they were wearing as they bent over at tables to take orders with backsides wiggling in the air - was this really a works do, or had I inadvertently joined a marauding stag outing?!?!?
The food was superb - I went for the terrine and toast, French trimmed lamb cutlets with dauphinoise potatoes and sticky toffee pudding. Deb thought her Turkey dinner was disgusting, but she is very high maintenance in the food department; for me the food was definitely 10/10.
Whilst we dined we were serenaded by a lovely young lady that sang Lounge Bar classics from Billie Holiday to Adele, and even the odd Christmas classic. Dressed in a flowing evening gown she was every bit the laid back jazz bar singer.
After completing her set and as the dessert dishes were cleared away, the gentle and softly spoken singer left the stage and returned moments later as our buxom corseted compare for the evening. The transformation was remarkable - from meek and mild to brash and flamboyant; wearing a short mini-skirt with heaving bosoms and a small gold crown.
Our table flanked the main thoroughfare between the changing room and stage, so we were prime cannon-fodder for the compare and performers as they made their way up on to the stage. The burlesque dancers included a memorable stripping Rudolph the reindeer, Christmas fairy and a slightly unsettling stripper granny (played by a younger performer!) – as Kenney Everett used to say, it was “all in the best possible taste”; there was plenty of artistic nudity, but no nipples.
There was also a very strange performance from a dancer wearing what looked like a stainless steel cooking bowl on her head and mirror strapped over her mouth that she used to reflect lasers around the room – very odd - I'm sure it was very artistic, but sadly completely lost on me.
During the performances Ashley got overexcited and stood to applaud, but was swiftly seated again by security, John got a big kiss on the cheek from the buxom compare and Sophie was given a seductive shoulder rub by one of the dancers - all great stuff.
In the short interval, the compare read out messages for those celebrating birthdays and anniversaries. It was my birthday the following day, so I suspected that Mary may have asked the compare to mention it; if only to embarrass me, if nothing else - that's what she's like. It therefore came as no surprise when the compare asked if there was a Mary in the room - here we go, I thought. As Mary reluctantly raised her hand the spotlight instantly found her lighting her up like a Christmas tree. What happened next was very unexpected: "So it's your birthday tomorrow" the compare asked, to which Mary responded "yes", which got a huge round of applause. She later claimed that she had been caught off guard, but I think she just likes the attention – MY ATTENTION!
At the end of the show the tables and chairs were cleared away to make room for the dance floor and the DJ started playing some old disco classics. Everyone was up dancing, apart from Mary – apparently unless the DJ’s playing “All about that Bass” by Meghan Trainor she just ain’t interested. With some gentle encouragement Kay was eventually able to persuade Mary to broaden her choice of music to more than just the one song and for a very brief while we were all up dancing.
Unfortunately, the dance floor was only slightly cooler than the surface of the sun, so before long we were all suffering from heat exhaustion, which brought the night to a natural conclusion.
It was a great night enjoyed by all.