The Dearth of The Double R Club

No photo description available.
(pic by Jodi Wyeth)

______________________________________________________________________________________

Hey, neighbours, welcome to The Double R Club, yes, The Double R Club… “Don’t worry. I’ve heard the phrase, ‘birds of a feather flock together.’”

______________________________________________________________________________________

This Thursday will mark a full fucking year since we staged a Double R Club. A whole year.

Last week I tried to recite to myself, from memory, the intro spiel I used for every single Double R show for ten years yet hadn’t spoken aloud since the last show; surprisingly, it was all still in there.

O it’s in there, and all the song ideas I’ve kept optimistically making a note of in my ‘Ben Acts’ doc are ready to go, as are all the music ideas added to the doc ‘Laptop Playlists’; they’re all in there and they’re noted down, champing at the bit, all worked up and nowhere to go.

I had genuine plans for 2020, maybe more than I’d had for any previous year; it was to be a hectic one, people were going to get well and truly sick of me. As well as the monthly Double R shows, I was working on a new one-man show based around the songs of Tom Waits, I had written and was writing songs with Shane Gilliver, which would’ve been recorded, a band formed, gigs played and an album launched; I had started to plan my 50th birthday show, which would land slap-bang on a the date of the November Double R.

But no.

______________________________________________________________________________________

Here at The Double R Club we have acts that will amaze you, amuse you, arouse you, tempt you, tease you, make you laugh, make you cry and, who knows, perhaps even scare you beyond the capacity for rational thought…

______________________________________________________________________________________

And then there’s the Cabaret Vs Cancer shows we’ve been unable to put on, and the money we’ve been unable to raise through those shows. As a charity we’re lucky to have as our founder my wife Rose Thorne, who has navigated the pandemic and its limitations better than most, thinking around the problems and still managing to raise money. On Sunday night our latest Bowie charity auction ended as our biggest yet, having raised a mammoth £4,371.

That’s all Rose, she’s fucking ace and don’t ever bet against her; she could kill you with her thumbs.

Not being able to stage shows is bad enough, but the powers that be aren’t fucking helping things.

The yo-yo, puppet-on-a-string, will-we-won’t-we, Charlie Brown-and-the-football methodology, staggering ineptitude and mendacity of our wretched fucking government has only served to prolong the suffering of many and pile up the bodies of the unnecessary dead to obscene levels.

Last week I had the sudden mental image of our Prime Minister dragging a large vessel through a mountainous terrain of bodies à la Fitzcarraldo; the vessel in this case being his repulsive, gargantuan, inflated, pustulant fucking ego.

The only thing worse that I can think of is that, should there be a snap election tomorrow, they’d probably win again, by a landslide. Now there’s despair fuel.

______________________________________________________________________________________

Later, we’ll be looking into the faces of people who never were, never will be, and never could be, this side of a bad dream… whichever side we’re currently on… And there will be SUCH prizes…

______________________________________________________________________________________

No photo description available.
(pic by Rose Thorne)

I have to say that I do realise that I’m lucky and have had a much better lockdown than many. In better times, when not writing, learning and performing The Double R (or one of the few other shows kind/foolish enough to book me) I would spend those pre-COVID days writing other things, which is how I’ve spent the majority of lockdown.

I finished and published a book of short stories based around the theme of technology (The Invention of Mother, available HERE!) albeit under my frankly ludicrous pen name Mason Ball, and I’ve written a large chunk of the first draft of a new novel. I am a writer, I write and I have spent my days writing; but the disappearance of those monthly injections of the excitement, thrill, fear and strange magic of co-creating and performing The Double R feels somewhat like having a limb removed, over and over again.

I’ve also completed an album of strange, disturbing drones, tones, beats, clicks, purrs, audio white elephant and unnerving soundscapes (A Nest of Popes, available HERE!) under the moniker Unsong; I’m really pleased with the album and think it’s one the best I’ve made.

In addition, we’ve been staging a strange refraction of one of the smaller and sillier elements of The Double R, TWINGO, every week on Facebook Live; this week is episode 44. It’s basically an extended version of the Twin Peaks bingo game we’ve played from time to time before the interval at The Double R proper, and this new online incarnation has been a most unforeseen success. We’ve got people from across the globe playing along (people who’ve never been to The Double R) and it’s developed its own in-jokes, shorthand and small, enthusiastic community (or perhaps it’s merely a symptom of Stockholm Syndrome). Every Thursday we drink gin and play Twin Peaks bingo (something that my dad finds a never-ending source of hilarity) and try our best to squeeze a little fun from the seemingly endless tedium of not being able to stage shows.

(pic by Shane Gilliver)

TWINGO even became the virtual ‘venue’ for my 50th birthday which, while certainly not what I had planned or could’ve imagined, turned out to be unexpectedly great fun, both Rose and the Twingo-liers really going out of their way to make it as much of an event as was possible.

TWINGO is ridiculous fun and it’s a welcome break from the torpor that threatens with every show-less month that goes by; but The Double R it ain’t. Nor are the things I’ve been writing, nor the sounds I’ve been creating. I love them all and would be doing most of them anyway, but they fail to scratch the particular itch that is standing on stage guiding an audience through the “place both wonderful and strange” that is The Double R Club; nothing ticks that box or quenches that need.

______________________________________________________________________________________

Inspired directly, or indirectly, by the dark and beautiful worlds of David Lynch, “You’re brewing a poisonous batch. This thing is bigger than both of us.”

______________________________________________________________________________________

May be an image of 1 person
(pic by gh0stdot)

When restrictions were laxer, we did manage to stage two one-man shows under the umbrella name of ‘Absolute Elsewhere’ at our beloved Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club; they were part one: A Lynchian Morsel and part two: A Gothic Induction.

I enjoyed both immensely and the socially distanced audiences were lovely and responsive and appreciative and strange and wonderful. But again, that Double R itch remained unscratched (at this point maybe some kind of unguent or ointment is called for? A balm?)

With the aid of the inestimable Sean ‘Magic’ Mooney and the Beyond The Cabaret Studios (somewhere in a secret South London location) we dipped out toes further into the online world with two virtual shows for Cabaret Vs Cancer, one a clip show of past Ashes to Ashes show performances (as well as a few bespoke recordings) hosted by yours truly, and the other a one-man show of me singing Bowie songs. And, while online shows can be technologically tricky as hell, I had a blast doing them and I’ll never tire of Bowie.

But still no Double R. And perhaps, after we’d done so much else to fill that void, it might be worth asking ourselves just what is it about The Double R that is special, at least to us.

______________________________________________________________________________________

My name is Benjamin Louche and I am your fuckin’ suave host for the evening. You are all my neighbours and so earn the, strictly honorary, title of ‘So fuckin’ suave.’ So. When I say “What’s my name?” you shout “Ben!” and when I say “What are you?” you shout “So fuckin’ suave!”

______________________________________________________________________________________

Along with some things I’ve written, I think The Double R Club is probably the thing I’m proudest of. It is indisputably our thing, Rose and I created it, curated it and once we realised what we had and just how to do it, we never compromised our vision one iota.

I don’t want to get into writing a potted history of The Double R (there is one featured though in my book Postcards from Twin Peaks, available HERE! -smooth segue Louche, smooth, keeping typing, no one noticed) but we have carved ourselves a place in London cabaret history by creating something that is, while being “inspired directly or indirectly by the dark and beautiful worlds of David Lynch,” so quintessentially us.

Many famous people when interviewed and asked about what their proudest achievement is will say “My marriage” and while this may be because maintaining a marriage whilst famous (something we are definitely not) is a truly rare and difficult thing, I can honestly say that being married to Rose is not difficult at all. My marriage is, I think, probably the least stressful part of my life. She’s awesome and frankly better than I deserve (yeah, yeah, insert vomit emoji here) and so being proud of my marriage seems odd to me, glad of it certainly, but proud? It’s not hard work.

And no, I’m not claiming that being married to me is as easy (I mean, Christ, just imagine).

______________________________________________________________________________________

What’s my name?

What are you?

What’s my name?

What are you?

______________________________________________________________________________________

However, being proud of something that is hard work, is often stressful and difficult, and that we’ve created together, makes perfect sense to me. We don’t have children (because frankly, eww) and the greatest thing we have made together is The Double R Club.

Please feel free to call me arrogant or even deluded (I answer to both) but I truly believe that there is not another show like it on earth. Not everyone liked us (which is more than fine, in fact is bordering on essential) but the fact that we found a dedicated audience, that we won numerous awards for the ruddy thing; that we found so many performers who just got it and were willing to ‘join in’, allowed us to continue for a decade, and go from strength to strength.

And now: NOTHING. NADA. ZIP. Absolutely GOOSE EGG.

Last week a Facebook friend posted on her timeline “I miss your faces,” to which my immediate response was:

“Worst. Sniper. Ever.”

It is a strange thing for someone not traditionally so enamoured with humanity as a whole to miss people. Don’t get me wrong, if I didn’t want to be your friend before, I certainly don’t want to be so now, I have not suddenly discovered an all-emcompassing love of humankind, but the fact is Rose and I have met, and been befriended by, a number of people who we would never have known were it not for us starting this odd little David Lynch themed cabaret night back in 2009. Both performers and audience members alike that we have since gotten drunk with, stacked chairs with, cleaned up bodily fluids (both real and fake) with, worked on projects outside of cabaret together with, thrown potatoes at plastic bottles with (no, really), sung with, raised money with, are now just thumbnails on social media and it’s weird; and not good weird either.

No photo description available.
(pic by gh0stdot)

______________________________________________________________________________________

Ok I need one more thing before we “Hit the fuckin’ road,” I need to test your capacity for sound your potential for expressions of unfettered joy, with, at first (using only the hands) a round of applause… Now bring it down, down to a smattering, just a pitter patter, like… like the sound you might expect if it was raining eyeballs… or disembodied, moistened genitals, just spattering down on the pavement, a deluge of disembodied, moistened genitals… and eyeballs…

______________________________________________________________________________________

Anyone who has worked with me in cabaret over the last decade will have heard me, after a show where the audience has been less than enthusiastic, jokily suggest that when we work out how to do cabaret without an audience, then we’ll have really cracked it. Well those flippant, quippy words came back to bite me in the arse, didn’t they?

We’ve been saying it for a year now and I suppose we have to keep saying it and keep saying it: this must end at some point. Even with the duplicitous, inept, callous, imbecilic, lobotomised, inbred, privileged fucking vermin we have in control of the country, eventually shows will begin again. And if there are still venues left that they can be staged in, then audiences will come.

I love it and I miss it, and though I knew it was important to me, I’m not sure I knew quite how important.

______________________________________________________________________________________

And keep it going, keep it going, because now I want to hear the sound you will make should one, or more, of our performers happen to show a little flesh… and what if they show you even more flesh? Even more flesh!

And then bring up the applause and add shouts of “Fuckin’A!” add shouts of “Rockin’ good news!” add shouts of “Let’s rock!”

And build the applause and build the applause, add screaming, screaming and applause, screaming and applause, screaming and applause, annnnd…. STOP!

______________________________________________________________________________________

So hear this:

WE WILL RETURN,  I T   W I L L   B E   H A P P E N I N G   A G A I N

But fuck knows when.

May be an image of 2 people and people smiling
(pic by Justin David)

~ by benjaminlouche on February 16, 2021.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: