By Piers Thompson
A lot of people wonder if there is any life left in the old neighbourhood. Notting Hill has such a long and illustrious history as being the place where the action is, dating back to the Bank Holiday riot of 1958. It is the ancestral seat of teenage revolt into style and counter-cultural dissent. So where did everyone go?
But Wednesday 2nd December, we saw a shock of the old. Portobello Road was buzzing with life. And it felt good.
I took the long-suffering wife out for a spin. We started at the opening of the Supper Club. It’s an outreach of Amsterdam’s own Supper Club, where they combine Indonesian rijsttafel with S&M burlesque and Sa Trinxa style tunage.
It’s housed in the old Subterrania, which has traditionally been plagued either by kung fu fighting inside or mass muggings outside. There was a Studio 54 style bunfight outside. Once inside, it was kinda San Tropez meets Swansea. The dress code was white, which makes everyone look like a Mariachi band.
The place seems to be smaller, which combined with the crush of people, served to deliver a James Bond jeopardy experience as the walls seem to close in. The upside was a naked bird gaffer taped to a pillar and exquisite portions of jellied eels.
Next it was down the road to catch the end of the Rotten Hill Gang’s set on the pavement under the Westway. They were as ever a delight, and the sound was considerably better than their last roadblock performance in the sausage shop. We await the recently completed album with some excitement.
We had by this time missed the outdoor screening of Zohra A Moroccan Fairytale, the latest offering by legendary auteur, and creator of the Portobello Film Festival, Barney Platts-Mills. I have yet to see it, but it is apparently entrancing and gritty. It played under the tent, where the Film Festival used to be.
No matter, because we were about to experience the highlight of the evening, and in the company of Keira Knightley. Lyle Rowell, the scrapyard genius, jumped onto his iron steed and we followed him over the road, and into ONE FOOT IN THE GROVE, which is back under the Westway for December.
There are some extraordinary sights within these ramparts, but none is more spectacular than the jousting of two fire breathing mechanical horses. They gyrate around each other in a duelling dance, to the sound of country music and the occasional whinny. It was captured by a blizzard of camera phones and is almost certainly up on youtube by now. See it to believe it.
The Mutoids represent everything that is great about this neighbourhood. Trash City at Glastonbury is probably the 8th Wonder of the World. Make sure you catch Giles Walker’s Pole Dancing CCTV cameras and the exquisite Death Mask on whose features you can control the images, through some Sci-Fi laser set-up straight out of Dr Who.
And there is more to come. You may have missed the Kensal Town Relief Fund bash at the Masons
by the time you read this (at which your correspondent is playing choons), but don’t fret. We still have A Lad In The Grove from 14-19 December at The Tabernacle, the latest of the unmissable Portobello Pantos
, directed by Alfie Allen; a double bill of the Rotters and the Trojans
at Inn On The Green on the 11th; Louis Eliot’s Embers at Maxilla Social Club on the 16th; and at the same venue on the 17th, Anna Chancellor and RoughlerTV present Émigré
, an evening of wild and authentic Balkan gypsy music.
And if you’re disappointed that this column isn’t just a list of overpriced tat for Christmas presents, I have some advice. Try under the Tent on Thursday where you’ll find Neil selling his eclectic books and Mark selling his beautiful soap. Otherwise, it’s down to Poundland.
It all happens Under The Westway. You can catch it on RoughlerTV (available via youtube). Finally, thanks to Roger Pomphrey for all your sterling work over the years.
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