This party on March 12 marked the return of Torture Garden to Mass in Brixton, exactly a month after what was to prove its last event at SeOne/Debut London.
TG Mass parties for me have always had a guaranteed enjoyment factor whether they are using the larger layout including the basement, as on this occasion, or just the upper area with its two-and—a-half spaces on one-and-a-half floors. So if it’s not broke, why fix it?
For some reason, the club decided to change what had become a familiar and well-functioning basement set-up — a combination of chill-out area and dungeon, both benefitting from ambient sound levels — by kicking the dungeon upstairs and introducing a dancefloor with dancefloor-level music.
So while the copious amounts of seating in the basement still allowed you to take the weight off your slingbacks, the opportunity for relatively quiet chilling and/or conversation was effectively sabotaged. Of course it suited some people, but quite a few complaints were voiced to me, and I ended up very much on the side of the “WTF have they done this for?” side of the argument.
Upstairs, however, it was business more or less as usual, with a colourful and largely well-dressed crowd comprising TG regulars and that increasingly prevalent TG phenomenon, the fetish hen/cock party: little groups of merry revellers enjoying the chance to let it all hang out in what one imagines is a different kind of partying environment from what they’re accustomed to.
These newbies may not be hardcore pervs (yet) but what they lack in authentic fetish attire they frequently make up for in enthusiasm and body paint. And they are not shy about asking for their pictures to be taken either, which can make the hardworking party ’tog’s job a little easier.
And the dungeon, in the lower half-floor it normally occupies when the basement isn’t being used by TG, seemed as popular as ever.
The evening’s main performance was the fashion show from Ooh La Latex, which has come from bubbling-under London label to the main stage of TG in a relatively short time, via, you may recall, a Fetishistas cover feature not too long ago.
One measure of the regard in which a label is held on the London modelling circuit is the involvement or not of certain TG catwalk stars in its show. And one could only surmise from the faces onstage tonight that OLL is admired very much by TG’s favourite fetishistas.
With Easy Tiger, Chrys Columbine, Veronika Valentine, Miranda Barrie, Mam’zelle Maz, Emily Grieve and Ruby True in your line up, you’re doing pretty well, I’d say. And there were some standout newer faces as well, not least Fae Raven, who heads this very page in commendable Disney-esque style.
The evening’s other performances included a bondage installation from Amrita and Mariko, the latter possibly familiar to many now as the young lady currently saving our esteemed contributor Dave Darcy Edmond from a fate worse than death.
The excellent tribal fusion dancer Leah Debrincat also performed — an event I sadly missed because the show time changed. But I did catch her later, carrying her props box down to the exit, which was a performance of a kind, I suppose. TM
‘We have been changing the layout when numbers fall to around 1,000 because having two dancefloors upstairs doesn’t work’ – Allen TG
TG’S RESPONSE: In a Torture Garden reply to the concerns expressed above about the layout of the March event, Allen TG and Charlotte TG have explained why the dungeon and second dancefloor were swapped around — a change which quite a few people felt was detrimental to the traditional ambience of the basement.
Allen says that the reason TG has recently been changing the layout at Mass is that when numbers fall to around the 1,000 mark, “having two dancefloors upstairs doesn’t work”.
When numbers are poor, as experienced a couple of times at Mass last year, one dancefloor usually suffers, he explains. “So we have decided on occasion to bring the dungeon to the larger space upstairs and take the burlesque dancefloor downstairs, which has a smaller dancefloor capacity.
“This still give the effect of a rather busy event without looking too sparse, and was definitely a help at April’s event when we had only 800 in. Using the familiar layout only works if we expect in excess of 1,100 people. So saying ‘if it ain’t broke, why change it?’ — in fact we thought it was broke so we did change it.”
Charlotte confirms: “By putting the dungeon in the main room we fill a lot of space and avoid the nightmare of a tumbleweed-tastic event with too few people on a big dancefloor. The players get more space for the equipment, which they always mention wanting, and both dancefloors feel busy as they aren’t such cavernous places to fill.”
TG admits numbers are down on its regular nights (ie excluding the big dates) — a fact Allen ascribes to people having to be really choosy in the current economic climate about which events to attend (something we at The Fetishistas see affecting fetish events across the board). Thus the changes at Mass have been made so that it “still creates an exciting vibe”.
“I did also get some comments about the change,” Allen says, “though most people agreed when they heard the reasoning behind it, and quite a few liked the idea of the couples room being in the same room as the dungeon.”
The original version of this report, published in early April, was updated to incorporate TG’s response on: