The Spiegeltent arrives in Bristol

1 12 2012

Think pop-up venues are a new craze? Think again. Spiegeltents, built in Belgium in the late 19th and early 20th century, were designed as travelling ballrooms and would pop-up in towns and cities to host wild fin-de-siécle parties. Literally translated as mirror tents, the mirrors were important as they allowed discrete eye contact to be made across a crowded dancefloor.

Spiegeltent Bristol gymnastsThe Spiegeltent now in place in Bristol, overlooking the Floating Harbour near Bordeaux Quay, is known as the Crystal Palace and is more than 100-years-old and one of only a few remaining in the world.

Built from rich mahogany, inside it has dappled glass and coloured mirrors, velvet drapes and antique lamps.

It is a splendid construction, with some quite extraordinary performers on opening night including two gymnasts (right) dressed in black and white who seemed to defy the laws of gravity.

The stage is at the far end of the tent, in front of which is a circular wooden dancefloor surrounded by tables. Near the entrance is a bar serving Bristol Beer Factory beer and Orchard Pig cider.

Tapas-style food is provided by the Mi Casa team, also known for their pop-up antics, with help from Stuart Seth of Seth’s Kitchen and Laura Hart  of Hart’s Bakery, formally of Cotham and after a wait of far too long due to reopen next weekend in an old railway arch underneath the front of Temple Meads.

Raising money for Temwa, a Bristol-based charity which supports various projects in Malawi, the launch of the Spiegeltent in Bristol saw some of the city’s finest musical talent with no need for any discrete eye contact.

The evening was headlined by a set from Bristol Hi-Fi which carried on until early in the morning, from an outfit mixing reggae, dub and hip-hop which is made up of Massive Attack’s Daddy G, Queen Bee, Mr Benn and Souls Liberation.

Also playing live was the swinging stomp of The Zen Hussies led by the effervescent  Jules Landau, eight-piece ska band First Degree Burns and a DJ set from Babyhead.

The Spiegeltent will remain in place until December 19, with an eclectic lineup featuring music from the likes of British Sea Power, Shlomo and The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain; comedy from acts including Stephen K Amos, Shappi Khorsandi and Craig Campbell; and other events such as the Love Food Festival, a vintage market and a Christmas tea dance.

Spiegeltent Bristol dance floor



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