Friday 27 July 2012

Some unexpected evening.

Every now and then something happens that makes you smile. This week I had such a moment when I was told, very surprisingly, that I'd been drawn as one of the winners of a pair of tickets for the Volupté Lounge on the edge of the City. I've never been before, though my flatmate has been to their Afternoon Tease. Which doesn't surprise me at all.

The only tricky problem was that of how to get there. The nearest tube is Chancery Lane. On the Central Line. On one of the hottest days of the year. Poo.

You see I don't do heat, I will suddenly melt for no apparent reason and then cool down as quickly and getting in to something red and frivolous for the evening was guaranteed to bring on a case of the melties.

I was going to have to catch a cab. The problem here being I would have to first get to a decent road. In a scarlet dress and heels. In broad daylight. In a deeply conservative (religiously speaking) area. Oh joy.

Fortunately I had recollections of seeing an app called Hailo. Hmmm. A quick download and register later and I was set, it was pretty funky, no, really funky, telling me when I could have a cab by and letting me pay by card. Handy.

As the time approached and I finished my last call of the day I did have a moments anxiety at depending on a piece of technology, especially with my reputation for epic lateness. Anyway... I got a face on, raided my flatmate's jewellery box, pulled on said red number, heels, picked up my teeniest I'm-going-home-after-this bag and virtually hailed a cab...

There was a slow whirring... A moment of “errr” and then suddenly it told me Jim was on his way and told me the cab registration number. Cool. All I had to do was wait outside! Which would have been less stressy if the local neighbourhood urchins weren't out in force. Grr. My calm outlook was momentarily rocked. Quite a lot.

So Jim arrived. I could track his progress on the map and when he got there I found I could have waited indoors as he would have waited a few minutes. Hey ho, you live and learn. As a first experience it was brilliant. And I didn't have to worry about having enough cash as, of course, I'd opted to bill my business account.

Some time later I arrived at the agreed meeting spot to find my date and chaperone for the evening, once again my lovely Irish gentleman friend stepped up to provide suitably amusing entertainment, wit and a teeny twinkle. Which isn't a euphemism.

First half, Emma and her boys...
When we got to the lounge it was still relatively early so our table wasn't quite ready, the lovely girl on reception showed us the bar and explained she'd come and find us when ready. Time for a little vodka and tonic then. Just in case of malaria. Obvs. I liked the bar, it had a similar feel to Harry's Bar in San Francisco, a place I spent too much time in the late nineties. Great for people watching and yet intimate enough to talk quietly.

As promised, the nice girl came and found us and took us down in to the lounge proper. Now this I liked and she seemed to be bringing in most people like this, a very controlled building of ambience. It very much had the eclectic, slightly eccentric feel of a traditional nightclub, small, compact, low lighting, intimate. Trouble was as I was carrying my I'm-going-home-after-this bag, I didn't have my reading glasses. Fortunately my Irish friend had his. But the lighting was so low he couldn't read the menu. In that case we'll have the beef.

As food was ordered we got talking with a couple of guys also on the winners table, one of which had been meaning to come for ages and hadn't quite got around to it. So none of us knew what to expect, which makes a nice change.

Second half, sparkly dress!
The main entertainment for the evening was the delectable Emma Divine, singing a mix of classics and her own work. Interspersed with the singing was a little light burlesque from Beatrix Von Bourbon. Even the pianist got in on the act by singing one of his own witty ditties, “Ladies prefer a cad”. At which point my gentleman friend starting protesting a suspicious amount...

It was a really good mix, the musicians were all very accomplished, slick and looked like they were enjoying themselves. The highlight of the evening though had to be Emma, her voice was amazing, especially when you consider how tiny she is. An incredible dynamic range and control with all you'd expect from nightclub jazz with a twist of the blues. And of the things we'd talked about that evening this we all agreed on.

I believe she is in the process of producing an album and I for one will be keeping an eye out for it and will definitely be planning to hear her sing live again.

The evening finished quite late. And I may have had a teensy bit too much vin rouge as I can't quite remember how we managed to be in a cab rattling towards St Katherine's Dock. Hmmm. I do remember getting out of the cab though. I was probably gassing, that usually distracts me.

You know how I mentioned the I'm-going-home-after-this bag? It didn't work. I'm just glad I had powder and lippy to effect a repair job in the morning for the walk of shame home. Which I didn't do.

Yet again I pulled out my trusty phone and used Hailo. This time my driver would be Oliver. The trouble was, owing to the O word, Wapping has been effectively divorced from the rest of civilisation and the only way he could get to me was over the St Katherine's Dock bridge, which had been raised, so my wait was a little while, but he called me twice to keep me updated. Which really, really impressed me. A lot.

I can thoroughly recommend Hailo. And I am definitely going to see Emma Divine as well as visit the Volupté Lounge again.

Which, I think you'll find, is also a recommendation.

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