Ostensibly the Torture Garden Valentine Ball was a stunning spectacle. Decor, acts, rooms, ideas, visuals, music… were all value for money. The thing is, at this TG I think this time we were witness to a change. TG has found itself the other side of the recession as more of a giant fancy dress party for Bizarre readers. Yet is it their fault that 2,500 people turn up?
It’s just I’ve always felt this is where the spirit of ‘punk’ is now. This of all clubnights is where the freedom of ultimate individual expression is. Not a chancer stumbling around in a bathrobe, not common festival skimpiness. TG has always been famous for its strict dress code and thus an outlet for freaking out. Yet only about a third there wore non-streetwear, and they were swamped by the overpopulation of watered-down ‘tops-off’ males and Burlesque hen-party females. As Latex Kitty said to me: ‘I don’t want to talk to someone with their top off, what’s that about?’
Quite. TG can’t be a Red Hot Chilli Peppers gig. But you had to admire those that braved the cold under the industrial archways of SeOne. I froze in my catsuit. That’s a heat transference thing right? I’m not up on my science but I’m sure somebody could have put a radiator on. A few oil drum bonfires would have looked good – probably against Health & Safety regulations…
Unfortunately it was the venue that inhibited the night. What SeOne gave in faded grandeur and space it took back in bad business choices. Frankly, the toilets were not fit for purpose. Carlsberg or Strongbow in cans – £4 a pop. Wine in plastic. Mismanaged cloakroom-queues. Obligatory heavy-handed doormen. All of it smacked of an inexperience in the fetish territory. One longed for the labyrinthian spookiness and facilitation of Mass at Brixton.
Despite the shortfallings of the venue – which did deliver a decent space – there is as always so much to celebrate about the hard work TG always put into its events. A stunning chart-ready electropop performance by Viktoria Modesta would have given Lady GaGa a run for her money. And the succinctly finessed digital grooves of the main Club Arena bathed in swaythes of ultramarine lasers by Beating Hearts were juxtaposed by a devilish revelry and stomping cheese-rock in the Neon Love Ballroom.
What also set TG apart were features like the performance artists: a double-headed manikin greeting everyone with a surgical mask and a kiss; and the Sexdoll Love Tunnel which set a sublimely pervy tone to the entrance, replete with dismembered blow-up doll parts and live rubber-maids. There were stalls, free photo-booths and of course pole-dancing, not to mention a sumptuous fashion show by Kaori’s Latex Dreams .
Asking around it seems TG might be looking to get its own venue, and that would be phenomenal because it would iron out the discrepancies of over-subscription, of Generation X Factor not understanding protocol, and the difficulties with enforcing a dress code with so many attending.
I was asked a few time what the solution might be. You know, I’m not sure there is a problem: it’s an opportunity. TG doesn’t need to be a victim of its own success: because it does have a groundswell of newbies coming through that need to be trained – perhaps with a TG Lite night. Then you could call the hardcore night, oh I don’t know, TG Strict – for those discerning souls who spend a month sorting out their outfits and travel across Europe to be at the cutting edge. Of course it would need to be choosier about the venues too.