Some years ago, a venue in Soho previously unknown to me was auditioning, so braving the parking difficulties I thought I’d have a go. On the corner of Brewer Street and Walker’s Court the venue had two entrances, the main one on Brewer Street and the other, a side entrance in a sheltered walkway, in Walker’s Court, which leads directly into the heart of Soho. It was a hot Summer’s afternoon. The Walker’s Court entrance was left open to give the place a bit of ventilation, what with it’s being Summer and all. There were lots of tourists about.
Being a solo act there is often a logistical problem with parking. In this instance the nearest car park was about five minutes walk away along Brewer Street. This meant I had to stop on the far side of the street opposite the venue, where the pavement was set back a bit, then unload the van bit by bit lugging the stuff across the road to the club, traffic permitting, which takes about five trips back and forth across the road.
Trusting that no-one would nick anything, I had then to leave the gear in the club, take the van to the car park and then walk back. Apart from the Summer heat, so far so good.
It was a small, intimate, very nicely decorated venue – bar against the far wall, tables and chairs between the bar and a small dance floor and then a small well lit stage presenting directly onto the dance floor, just inside and to the right from the Brewer Street entrance.
I set up, jacked in and got busy.
Part of the attraction of Soho is sex, strip clubs and all that, and part of that scene was a major strip joint with its main entrance directly opposite the open side doors of the audition venue. Stripping is harder work than most people imagine, for the bigger shows much like legit dancing for example, so requiring conventional rehearsals.
The venue where I was auditioning was open for normal business and the sound of the audition was pulling in passers by. To the obvious delight of some of the male visitors, the rehearsing dancers from across the way chose that time to take a break and they too were drawn in. Even when working they perform in rotation so some are always on a break. Being as how it was hot and these ladies were not unduly sensitive to a somewhat minimal approach to clothing, what they were wearing barely covered the essentials.
Following the audition I was booked for a Friday night a couple of weeks down the line.
At that time I had a day job working in a factory. Come the Friday night in question I’d made sure that there were no male employees who had not heard of the drop-in strippers likely to put in an appearance at the gig. With a certain amount of anticipatory relish quite a few of these guys decided that the gig provided a reasonable excuse for a trip to the West End. I was looking forward to it as it’s always good to play for people you know.
As you can imagine, the hassle with the van and parking and all that was much worse on a Friday night, with the added stress of the possibility that the car park might be full.
As luck would have it, it wasn’t – however, that was where the luck sort of ran out. The lads from the factory showed up OK, but at the time of the audition I hadn’t thought to ask about who the night-time audience might be. Come the night, with the guys from work in attendance – if slightly trashed – it was too late to do anything about it.
During the daytime the venue was open to any who cared to drop in, in the evenings the demography changed – all gays – no strippers.
To say that the lads from work were a little disappointed would be misleading.