Rumpus Party : à la frontière de l’imaginaire

Amandine Jean
Ici Londres

C’était le quatrième anniversaire de la Rumpus Party vendredi 6 juin, une soirée devenue mythique et incontournable pour ses thèmes déguisés.

Il est peu avant minuit, l’heure pour les créatures de la nuit de rejoindre le Coronet Theatre, à Elephant and Castle. Le thème de la soirée est “Frontiers”. On croise donc dans les rues pas mal d’Indiens d’Amérique et de cows boys en goguette, mais aussi des gens habillés de guirlandes lumineuses, des animaux…. pour une interprétation plus figurée ou personnelle du thème. On pénètre dans un théâtre qui date de la seconde partie du XIXe siècle au son de percussions brésiliennes.

Et l’on croise, pêle mêle :

- Marty McFly qui tente désespérément de faire fonctionner sa Hover Board,
- Un corps de femme entièrement peint de très fins tatouages,
- Un homme bibendum enroulé dans des ballons longs, qui se déshabille au fur et à mesure de la soirée pour modeler et offrir un chien ou une autre création gonflée d’air aux noctambules.
- Des objets humains définitivement non identifiés
- Un homme complètement nu…

Ce qui frappe durant une Rumpus Party, ce sont les gens. Toujours souriants, heureux, ouverts à la rencontre. Dans l’allée fumeurs qui sépare le théâtre des petits ateliers où l’on découvre expositions, projections ou petits concerts, on prend plaisir à traîner, à goûter un peu de fraîcheur et à papoter. Les multiples portes qui jalonnent l’allée sont autant de découvertes. Ici, des portraits photo de personnages déguisés répondent aux visages peinturlurés des visiteurs qui les regardent. Là, dans une petite salle aux murs de briques, un orchestre aux accents du Bayou (Concrete Mountain). Au son de la contrebasse, du banjo, du violon de la guitare, le public ne peut résister et chacun empoigne son inconnu de voisin par le coude pour des “bourrées” improvisées.

Il est 4h. Ah oui quand même. On décide de se poser un peu dans les fauteuils du théâtre, au premier étage. Là, dans le confort du velours rouge, on devient les spectateurs privilégiés et paresseux de l’effervescence sous nos pieds. Certains s’amusent même à vider leurs chargeurs de pistolet à eau sur les vaillants danseurs de la fosse en dessous, sous le regard de videurs complices.

De retour dans une des petites salles qui donnent sur l’allée extérieure, nous tombons sur la française Garance Louis (un autre Français, Sacha Dieu, incontournable des soirées électro-swing, était aux platines un peu plus tôt, comme quoi les Français ne sont pas en reste pour les bonnes soirées) avec son groupe Garance and the Mitochondries. Fraîche et gouailleuse malgré un set de 5h à 6h du matin, elle tire avec son accordéon les dernières réserves d’énergie des danseurs, qui ne sont clairement pas décidés à lever le camp. Les organisateurs auront quelque peine à arrêter et les musiciens et les fêtards.

Il ne nous reste plus qu’à rentrer tranquillement en métro, lequel est évidemment déjà ouvert. On s’endort aux petites heures du matin, des images et des rencontres plein la tête, des paillettes et des plumes à l’origine non controlée au fond du lit.

Running Riot With Santiago Genochio Of Rumpus

Katie Antoniou
Run Riot

London sees many new clubnights come and go- some fail to achieve what they were aiming for, many become victims of their own success. So when a new night comes along that actually hits the spot, you’re slightly loathed to tell everyone about it. But to keep Rumpus a secret would be to go against everything that makes it special- its sense of inclusion, the need for participation and the lack of any pretensions or exclusivity. It’s grown from a gathering of a few hundred people in 2010, to the two thousand+ strong party coming up in June. Rumpus will also be bringing the party to Wilderness Festival this year. While the venues may change, the key Rumpus ingredients stay the same: music, performance and your imagination. The team members are always on hand with costume rails and make-up areas to help you embrace your Rumpus alter ego.

One of the brains behind the beast is Santiago Genochio- we quizzed him on all things Rumpus, and the secrets to throwing a kick-ass party.

Run-Riot: Tell us how Rumpus was born.

Santiago Genochio: Rumpus came out of me spending years partying, and then, through the Burning Man scene, getting involved in events. Eventually I started getting offered professional work, and I had a few years of working on a variety of events, trying to figure out how you could run a creative, interesting event, which was sustainable and paid everyone involved. I came across lots of events which were very creative and very interesting, but which didn’t make enough money to pay everyone, or which folded within 6 months to a year, and on the other hand I saw a lot of events which made a lot of money but were artistically and creatively dead. It wasn’t until I worked for Torture Garden that I saw an event which managed to do both things. I then spent a few months putting together a plan for how the event would run – it focused on the event being big enough to generate enough income to pay everyone, and to get different crews and artists in to run different parts of the event, while giving them enough freedom to experiment with what they are doing. I wanted the event to feature a wide variety of music, and a wide variety of content. From there it was a hop skip and a jump to bringing the idea up with Stefano Von Malaka, joining forces and getting Rumpus off the ground.

RR: When you have to write your occupation on forms, what do you put?

SG: Depends on what the form is for. Usually it’s Production Manager. When I’m filling in Court forms, it’s Newspaper Proprietor. If I’m having a really great day, I put in Adventurer.

RR: Best Rumpus moment?

SG: Watching a pack of footie/lager lads, happily and joyfully singing and dancing with a transvestite during the Rumpus Kazoo Orchestra. Earlier in the night I’d spotted the lads being a tad boisterous and I’d asked Security to keep an eye on them. To see them so wrapped up in the good natured fun of something as silly as a Kazoo Orchestra, and seeing them being open and non-judgemental, made me realise who much positive change Good Silly Fun can achieve.

RR: And the worst?

SG: The moment I realised that the 1000 people we were expecting for our first event weren’t going to turn up. The 450 that did turn up made up for it though!

RR: As an expert, what would your top tips be for:

i) Coming up with a theme for a party?

SG: I am a big believer in archetypes and shared narratives. I think story telling has basic building blocks which resonate with us all, and the more you build your themes and your story lines around those building blocks, the easier it is to come up with themes which people feel emotionally involved in.

RR: ii) Making a costume for a party

SG: 1)Avoid Fancy Dress Shops. 2)Make at least one part of it yourself. This can be anything from a hand-crafted leather corset to a cardboard box with a smiley face scribbled on itn in felt-tip marker. In fact, one of my favourite pictures of Rumpus is of a man in a cardboard mask he made himself. Completely low-budget and low-fi, but it had so much emotion in it. 3) Feel comfortable in it. Honestly, a party where everyone feels great in their normal jeans is a better party than one where everyone feels uncomfortable in the most amazing outfits.

RR iii) making friends at a party?

SG: Despite having a very social job, I am actually quite shy and a bit socially awkward, as well as being faceblind. As a result, I’m far from being an expert on making friends at parties. As soon as people change outfits or put on a different hat, I can’t recognise them anymore. It’s very awkward and embarrassing.

RR iv)meeting a boy/girl at a party?

SG: You need a bottle of mead, a kazoo and an Elvis outfit.

RR: v) getting rid of wankers at a party?

SG: Opinion is greatly divided on this matter. My good friend Rob Hill of Mojo Hand stands by the idea that there is no such thing as a bad crowd, only a badly managed crowd. Whilst I don’t espouse such an extreme view, I do think that a lot of those wankers simply don’t know better. I’ve spent time in fairly unusual crowds and scenes, such as Burning Man and Torture Garden, that have many unorthodox written and unwritten rules. A lot of those wankers we worry about have never come across alternative events and groups with their own rules, and noone has ever looked them in the eye and explained the rules. I’ve said things which have come across as stupid and wankerish in environments where I didn’t know how I should behave. In some cases, yes, people are just wankers, and they’re not going to play nice. In those situations firm speech and, if necessary, the help of Security is needed. In most cases, though, Engagement, Eye Contact and A Good Friendly Smile help to get people to stop being wankers.

Remember, there’s always someone, in some scene, to whom you’re a sad wanker. We were very clear that we didn’t want Rumpus to be based in any particular sub culture, scene, or even music genre. We wanted to create an event that wasn’t about “cool” but rather about “fun”; where anyone would be welcome – we don’t even enforce a dresscode – and could have Good Silly Fun together. As a result we now attract people from lots of different crowds, who all feel comfortable sharing a dancefloor. You don’t often see that.

RR: vi) clearing up after a party?

SG: Do it immediately. Never leave cleaning up for later. In fact, my house parties have a rule: at sun up, the party stops, and everyone who is still awakes cleans my house, returning it to a better state than it was in when they arrived. Meanwhile, I cook everyone in the house the best breakfast they’ve ever had – and I cook a very good breakfast. Once the house is clean and breakfast is eaten, the party can continue.


RR: What would your ultimate dream venue be for a Rumpus party?

SG: We were having talks regarding putting on a Rumpus in the Amphitheatre at Ephesus. That would be pretty special. And last week I had a walk around a magical woodland where Rumpus will be heading outdoors to in 2014!

RR: And dream headliners?

SG: Those who follow Rumpus will know that there has been a long running difference in opinion between myself and Dr Malaka. I hold that The Venga Boys would be nothing short of amazing. He, on the other hand, shakes his head slowly and calls me sad.

RR: What will Rumpus look like in the the year 3000?

SG: The tails, ears and wings will be for reals.


Rumpus Vol. 14: 20,000 Creatures Under The Sea

Ken Sparkles
This Is Cabaret

So, my beauties, there we were, on the deck of the MS Stubnitz, late of Hamburg, now come to Canary Wharf, the icy air seeking out our exposed flesh, surrounded by all manner of weird creatures, some with the smell of seamen about them, but many from worlds strange and unfathomable. We found ourselves in the midst of a great rumpus of noise and commotion, at once assailed and bewildered by the desperate voyage now embarked.

Gentle reader, we saw three genuine mermaids, sirens of legend and lore, their tails flecked with the colours of the deep, their heads and breasts home to corals and anemones of every kind. They sang too, in slight Estuary tones, but passable nonetheless for they must have rehearsed it under water.

Upon that deck was every ocean’s denizen, persons in ponderous diving contraptions bedecked with tubes, lobsters grown the size of ponies and tangled with kelpy cloaks, giant crabs nipping at our extremities, a drunken accordionist who lashed his instrument about, and jewelled ladies aplenty. A poor lad begged me for tobacco saying his nose was broke from a sea-vixen that fell down upon him from the sky, for she was somewhat loose about the stays. We took fright, running from the groping octopi, and many winsome lasses sporting basques and fishnets. A few lads in fishnets also.

Below decks the lone bar stood three-deep with writhing wenches, deep-sea divers and privateers, all of them fighting tooth-and-claw for a mouthful of grog. “An extra pound deposit for yer diminutive plastic pint pot,” says the barman. “A foul trick!” says I, “None would be arsed to brave this bedlam to return’t.” And so they had my pound, may it burn a hole in their poxy purses before it’s spent.

From down in the bilges came wild music played with murderous intent by two bands of troubadours – one named Penny Black Remedy, the other BootScraper – and had me a merry jig while a quaint fellow called Sarb parleyed a damsel whose eye was well twinkled by his “End Is Nigh” sandwich board, tho’ it came to naught, there being a ring upon her finger.

And thus, as the party thinned, we journeyed for’ard to boogie in the dark for awhile ’til the 11 o’clock curfew fell upon us; whence above board and contemplating the gangplank, we watched the wretched sloop’s crew set to scrubbing the soiled decks and arousing those fallen to the scuppers with the staggers and jags.


Rumpus Vol. 9: Tomorrow’s Party, Today!

Gingle Lists Everything

I barely know where to start to describe a night at Rumpus. Rumpus is like an adult wonderland with something different going on in every room. I felt like an over-sized child wandering from one atmosphere to the next (it didn’t help that my costume made me look like I was about to go to a children’s birthday party, nor that we all at one point ventured into the Ball Pit. Yes, there is an adult-sized ball pit.)

So, let me start at the beginning. I have an eclectic taste in music so what Rumpus are trying to do really appeals to me. Up to seven rooms, all with different types of music and goings on in them. Not only that, but dressing up is strongly encouraged. Each night they put on has a different theme. And we’re not talking just ’70s’ or ‘Blitz’. These nights have their own backstories to explain the dress code. Friday’s was ‘Tomorrow’s Party, Today’: It’s the future, the People’s Party have taken over in a world where the line between humans and animals has blurred to indistinction and everyone must dance and party forever more. But wait, an underground guerilla resistance group is rising up! And so you can decide – animal creature, towing the party line or guerrilla warfare costume. Or of course, anything out of the ordinary whatsoever.

And, if you can’t be bothered or don’t have the imagination or wherewithal to dress up, that doesn’t matter either. They have all sorts of tails on hand to hire (long furry ones, squat dragonstyle ones, I saw some that were lit up like lanterns) and some talented ladies who will paint your face so that you ‘fit in’ better with the costumed crowd. But even if you don’t fancy that, the place is friendly and non-judgmental – wear what you like so long as you’re enjoying yourself!

We arrived about 11:30 and went into the main room which is a courtyard where there’s a BBQ, the facepainting and tails, and oh yeah, there just happens to be an underground tube train in the middle. Off to the right was a room with a bar in it that at first was playing some rock ‘n’ roll music, but then a live band came on singing some soulful dixie music, if that’s a thing, which made me feel like I was on the bayou. Music in each of the rooms varies over the course of the night though so if you don’t like it when you first come in, just come back later and see if it floats your boat then. Over on the other side of the courtyard is another room which, when we entered had two ladies stamping their feet in a generally Irish kind of way. That song finished and before we knew it we were being rounded up to participate in some kind of Irish line dancing, complete with dosey doe-ing and running through people’s arms. Brilliant fun. Breathless, we left to explore upstairs.

The more serious dancing seemed to be happening up here and later in the night this is where we spent most of our time, raving to house and d ‘n’ b. There was a large room, which is where the ball pit was situated, some cages, and also some naked body painting was occurring, though somehow I managed to miss this (although I did see some of the results afterwards). On we went through to another DJ-based room, and then to a smaller one at the back where a band that I would describe loosely as Gypsy Turbo Punk were shouting into microphones and whipping up a storm for those who like that kind of thing.

On top of all this, popping up almost at random there seemed to be burlesque type acrobatics – we saw a woman wending and weaving through hanging sashes, and upstairs a lady threading herself and balancing
through a hoop.

I’m still slightly taken aback by the variety on offer. Early bird tickets were only £10 and the night lasts from 10 pm until 7 am representing excellent value for money for a night out as well. Also, the drinks were fairly averagely priced. Not cheap but normal bar prices. And there was a BBW and cupcakes on offer, though I didn’t end up sampling either. We were some of the very last to leave, which you can take as a seal of approval. The next one is June 1st – see you there.


Rumpus Vol. 8: Carnival of the Animals
Tyler Wetherall 

‘Is my tail wonky?’ I find myself staring at the behind of a man dressed as a tiger wearing the tail of a fox. I make a slight adjustment, give him a pat, and send the tiger-fox on his way. I need to get back to the important matter of considering my own tail.

 We’re in the Tall Tails corner of a warehouse in London’s Islington where you can buy yourself a tail to match your outfit. But zebra or dragon? These are the sort of obscure questions you find yourself asking at Rumpus, probably one of the best roving parties in London right now.

I call it a roving party, because it doesn’t fall under the bracket of club night. “We think a good party is about more than cramming people onto a dance floor and playing music at them,” and that they definitely do. With six rooms of different shenanigans they have music covering genres as diverse as gypsy folk to electro, and performances from contortionists to miracle-makers all orchestrated at the breakneck pace of pandemonium. It is a rumpus; a fanciful commotion, a ballyhoo and a bluster. Literally a zoo this time, as the theme for the night is ‘Carnival of the Animals’.

Walking in, a sign announces: ‘FUN TIMES. INSTANT ENJOYMENT.’ An aerial trapeze artist with feathers in her hair swings above our heads, and someone in Beetlejuice trousers is handing out candy floss. The crowds are dancing to the most hip-twitching rockabilly. It’s like walking in on the Animals of Raving Wood.

If you haven’t come dressed up you get charged an extra £2 on the door. It’s a Fun Tax; you’re penalised for not letting loose. Costumes range from the miraculous to the makeshift, but some pretty zebras will paint your face if you don’t feel the part. In the outside world you might worry about looking silly, but here the only thing to worry about is not looking silly enough.

It’s all about rediscovering an inner playfulness. It’s the same impulse that has led to the popularity of music festivals like Cambridgeshire’s Secret Garden Party and Isle of Wight’s Bestival. People want the opportunity to dress up and play. And it’s not just a few people; Rumpus alone attracts over 1000 – in October they expand to a 2000-capacity venue.

Here, it’s perfectly acceptable to launch yourself into a giant ball pit and throw multi-coloured balls at complete strangers; which is exactly what I find myself doing.

Rumpus Vol. 8: Carnival of the Animals
Mike O’Shea

I arrive early, just before opening time at the Islington Metal Works in the hope of slipping in unnoticed to the sell-out Rumpus party that has recently been the subject of dirty whispers from those in the know. Tonight is the ‘Carnival of the Creatures’ and I’ve managed to wing it as my lady friend is running a stall selling animal tails to the furry masses queuing in the cold outside.

What strikes me upon entrance is the commotion: the hustling and bustling of artists jostling into positions before the final curtain call, the air thick with the type of excitement and verve that you always imagine in the backstage depths of a large production preamble. The venue is dark and labyrinthine. I feel lucky to have slipped in the back door and avoided the queues. After a quick recce of the sprawling six room venue – which includes four rooms of music and entertainment as well as a cinema – I return to “The Pit of Curiosity”, a high-ceilinged, industrial room that has been turned into a bizarre bazaar with people peddling everything from lizard tails to knitwear.

In the centre of the room is a carriage from a London underground train that has been converted into a bar, and in front of that a string orchestra. Santi, one of the main organisers, slides in and gives everyone the five minute warning, and before I know it the doors are open and in herd, flock and swarm a truly eclectic rabble of creatures of all sizes, ready to embrace their ferity as the orchestra drown them in the score from Peter And The Wolf. Later on, the orchestra will be replaced by a group Kazoo session going fucking mental to Zorba The Greek.

I’m a few hours into the party when I first realise that the initial feeling of being backstage hasn’t subsided (and later I will find out the ‘back door’ that I clandestinely glanced through into the recesses of the production was actually the front door). This is when I realise that the whole party, no matter which room you are in or who you are partying next to, feels like it’s the much more debauched, much more fun backstage party of the actual, far more boring, non-existent main production. This is where the cool kids are and I’m one of them. This is what makes Rumpus great. The event is so saturated with artists and performers that you half expect to find a string quartet playing over the top of your cubicle when you’re taking a shit (something Santi the organiser says he has done at a previous party).

Upstairs more rooms seem to unfurl, dishing up pool tables, massive filthy breakbeat bangarounds and wonky ball pits, and with the crowd a healthy mix of ravers, trannies, weirdos, freaks, geeks and (weirdly) goths, there’s somebody for everybody here.

Rumpus have nailed the concept of turning a party into a one-night festival, and in these cold, cold winter months with festival season not even nearly on the horizon, this is exactly what we need. These guys truly are apt in name and so I suggest when the whisper “Rumpus?” graces your ear, you should whisper back, “Indeed”.

Rumpus Vol. 6: Dia De Las Criaturas Muertas
Rhianna Shaw

When I first decided to attend Rumpus I had absolutely no idea what to expect.  Their website held promises of bands with names like Sam the Womp, Penny Black Remedy and Perhaps Contraption, and attractions like the Rubbish Sideshow Circus and Jungle is Massive.  Upon further investigation nothing became any less obscure; phrases like ‘art rave’, ‘secret garden meets Shangri La’, and ‘psychedelic tea party’ were thrown around, but that didn’t really clue me in (although it definitely excited me).  Well now I’ve been, and I can see why it was so difficult to find a concrete definition of Rumpus.

I’ll start with the theme.  “Dia de Los Muertos” – Day of the Dead.  It’s a Mexican holiday dedicated to celebrating the dead.  Upon googling it I found a lot of decorative skeletons.

Upon arrival I saw that others had taken it to new extremes.  There were all kinds of skeletons walking around, devils, zombies, men in masks, women in catsuits, unnameable creatures, glowing things, bleeding things, and lots of things with tails!  This could have been in part due to the stall that provided one with animal tails and backcombed hair should one’s appearance be lacking such adornments.

It was like stepping into a parallel universe.  The traditional rules by which society governs its behaviour went out the window.  Everyone was there to unashamedly celebrate art and music and (cheesy though it sounds) the freedom to be whoever the hell they wanted to be.  I heard rumours of art and acrobats though never managed to see them myself, because with six rooms and endless corridors I was forever lost in the depths of the Islington Metal Works.  But in the best possible way: I had no intention of being found.

There was a ball pool, about which I heard glamourous tales of “footsie with strangers under a blanket of bass and darkness”.  There were chilli chocolate cupcakes, which were as hot as they sounded.  There were entire rooms of people swaying to the beat as high-energy music pulsated through the air.  Sam and the Womp turned out to be an excellent Balkan Gypsy Electro band (a genre that until that night I hadn’t even heard of but now I shall never forget).  The deejays were brilliant, especially Osh J, whose audience Tavi Hirst, at Rumpus celebrating her birthday, described as “dozens of dead creatures wriggling to dubstep ska.”

I still have no idea what exactly went on that Friday night, but I do know this: if you like music, art, dance, self-expression or even just a jolly good knees-up, watch out for Rumpus Volume 7, because judging by Vol. 6 it will be a phenomenal experience you aren’t likely to forget in a hurry!

Rumpus Vol. 6: Dia De Las Criaturas Muertas
David Briggs

I heard about this event from some friends at AntiChrist and it sounded like an event that was not to be missed. They were right.

The gathering was to celebrate that most traditional of October dates, the Dia de las Criaturas Muertas, also known as the Day of the Dead Creatures. The celebrations included the finest canticles from bands such as the all mighty Sam and the Womp, the fearsome Penny Black Remedy, and the incorrigible Perhaps Contraption. They had DJs ready with dirges and the Rubbish Sideshow Circus.

The venue was very well chosen with lots of rooms to provide variety enough for everyone who attended. Most of the dance floors were upstairs. A stage and dance floor on the ground floor provided entertainment such as bands and the Rubbish Sideshow Circus, who brought some weird and wonderful performances and acrobatics.

The Cult of the Cubicle brought weird and wonderous cinematic delights, and the Traveling Tavern looked after everyone with the very finest jazz, blues and ragtime styles. There were far too many bands to list them all but all tastes were catered for in one fashion or another.

There was also an altar that features in several photos. Everyone was encouraged to bring offerings. A lost tail, an old letter, a found feather, all gathered in honour of Las Criaturas Muertas.

Essentially a wonderful, eccentric and eclectic mix of people and events and a very fun and crazy way to spend a saturday night. I would encourage everyone to make a space in their diaries for the next event!

Rumpus Vol. 6: Dia De Las Criaturas Muertas
Stefan Klenke

It was only my second Rumpus ever,  but the night confirmed for me that this is my favourite party in London town. The mini-festival atmosphere incapsulated by the big old warehouse premises of the Electrowerkz in Islington was electrified by a sheer endless array of random moments created by a beautiful mix of people. Almost everyone made an effort to dress up – which meant I could have almost been blindfolded and still would have been able to take brilliant shots. I felt like all I needed to do was to point and shoot and I could be guaranteed someone interesting was doing something interesting right in front of me.

Wicked danceable Life bands, Djs playing DnB, Dubstep, Ska, Pulp-Fiction-Tunes, Polka – man there was everything – except Techno or House. So a reallly refreshing compilation for your ears

If you needed a break from dancing your bottocks off you also had a little cinema, a cake stand, art installations, hot food, and of course the talented hair and make-up ladies from “Hairy Poppins” – who in case you needed a little upgrade turned your hair and face into somethig out of this world.

Rumpus Vol. 5: Very First Birthday!
Des O’Connor, The Undisputed King of Cabaret

I think it’s safe to say that Rumpus has established itself as one of the finest club nights in the capital.

Rumpus Vol. 5: Very First Birthday!
Stefan Klenke

For my kinda liking Rumpus is the best party that London has to offer.

Like a mini Secret Garden Party it offers absolute nutterness for anyone who doesnt take life or themselves too serious. Just dive into the rabbit-hole for one night and see what happens when you get out of it again.

4 or 5 rooms -with different themes filled with tunes covering all genres except shit. If you wanna dress up – do. If not – no one cares.

Their motto is Rumpus – The Way parties should be. I totally concur.

Rumpus Vol. 3: Carnival!
by Jess Jones-Berney

Passing five aliens in the foyer, we enter the madness. And it’s straight to Clapton Metropole Room where a makeshift pineapple bar serves pretty unsavoury cocktails to speakeasy sounds. There’s a Tell Tale corner offering animal tails for a tenner and it’s got that fresh, early morning festival vibe, with small groups animatedly chatting to one another as we wait for things to really kick off.

Across the way my mate’s commandeered the candy floss machine and peculiar puppets hang down from the ceiling. Downstairs, having survived the killer corrugated staircase, we head into the Cakewalk Basement where The Dakota Gym Band is charming a horizontal, bean-bagged crowd. The rockabilly blues of the accordion, double bass and croaky, granddaddy vocals are a perfect respite from the mayhem elsewhere. Before long I’m chatting with Rumpus regular Nicholas Immaculate, showing off his patchwork attire and miniature Gaga-esque hat, and his pal Keith, who’s not to be outshone in a plush fluorescent pink blazer and Beetlejuice striped trousers. “Rumpus is the space to be whoever you are,” they tell me. And they’re spot on, barely standing out themselves in this rainbow crowd. It’s a place where fetishes come to the forefront and inhibitions are left at the cloakroom.

A laughing gas crowd gather on cushions scattered across the floor, but my fun’s cut short. Oh God, a clown hovers close by. But even clowns have to up their game here, hence the unicorn horn protruding from this one’s head. Way to make a phobia worse. Two of my mates reappear with bouffant hairstyles and heart face tattoos, having been at Hairy Poppins’ Pop Up Hair Salon, which promises to transform “shaggy manes into styled cowlicks” for a small donation.

Over in the Main Room safari-capped Professor Elemental introduces masters of ‘GypsStep’, Molotov Jukebox, whose long trumpet intro kicks their set of nicely. It’s an explosive, addictive musical cocktail with brass, violins, guitar, drums, accordion and the awesome vocals of Natalia Tena. How to describe GypsStep? A pinch of dubstep, dollop of flamenco and hints of electro, reggae and soul. Amazing. I’m a convert.

In perfect tandem the crowd are bobbing the Hava Nagila and my mate’s suddenly juggling in time to the claps. Not really noticing the transition, we’re dancing to a Latin-infused cover of ‘Seven Nation Army’, and fake maracas become mandatory. The female singer dutifully screams to the crowd, “All these men on stage are single!” and we’re putty in their hands. Crikey, these little coloured balls are breeding! They’re literally all over the floor, but we quickly realise it’s overflow from the ball pit next door. YES. Only at Rumpus can swimming in a sea of multicoloured balls with Rufio, a ringmaster and a grumpy looking jester, seem perfectly normal. However, in this adult-only pit people are getting frisky at the back. There’s Jaws-like movements and someone grabs my leg, culminating in a pretty lethal ball fight. After getting pelted in the head and missing most of my targets it’s time to abort.

Next door the mood’s slowed to a schmoozy ‘Let’s get it on’ and the singer shouts, “We expect babies by next year!” Bugger, just tripped over a long rat tail protruding from some man’s ass. As you do. And I’m being sprinkled with Meera’s magical make-a-wish glitter – she’s doing the rounds just in time for the electro swing takeover, which knocks everything up a gear. Having seen him recently at The Book Club’s sound clash, Chris Tofu doesn’t disappoint, reprising his role as Electroswing club guru, while Dr Malaka spices up the genre with his Balkan beats. I defy you not to dance yourself silly to their take on 1920s jazz – such infectious fun! As for the rave heads amongst you, the promise of ‘Twisted Beats and Twisted Acts’ in room two is delivered up by Senseless Records’ Sasquatch and his ‘dubstep/cumbria/kuduro interbass mash down’ and Sarantis’ dubstep grime. Soooo good, but completely knackers me out.

We head back to the chill out where an Arabian-sounding clarinet solo hypnotises the crowd. It’s like the score from Aladdin and the floor’s covered with even more napping bodies. There’s bits of artwork dotted about the place, but between sky-high quiffs, random rodent tails and a unicorn clown, nothing really grabs my attention. Weirdly wonderful, this place is like a scaled down version of Secret Garden/Shangri La. Sign me up for the next one!

One Response to Reviews

  1. Annie-London says:

    Rumpus completely blows you away and is genuinely the best night I’ve ever had in London (or any UK city for that matter) – it’s a mini festival in the heart of London. All the staff are incredibly nice and everyone you speak to there is friendly, chatty and up for having a laugh together. Everyone looks out for one another too.

    The music is fantastic and because the place is so big you never feel like it is over crowded. There’s definitely something for everyone and the drinks are pretty reasonable. £3 for a can of beer…

    Here are just a few of the random things that we did last time we went…

    Had a plaster cast of our tongues made
    Were entertained by an magician who did some incredible magic for us
    Played a game of pictionary and hang man with a crowd of strangers
    Got incredibly face paints done
    Watched a weird contemporary dance duo
    Convinced loads of men on the dance floor to fight the misogyny and ‘re-claim the cage’
    Swam around in a ball pool
    Danced crazily to a great Ska band
    Ate some awesome street food

    And that was only at the start of the night…

    One thing to bear in mind – wear shoes that you don’t mind getting scuffed up as the floor can get pretty black and make an effort with your costume – you’ll feel out of place if you don’t!!!

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