Afternoon Tease at Volupte

glennji | May 15, 2010 min read

Time is flying: we have only two weeks to go, and one of those weeks we will be sleeping on Andy’s couch. Both Dee and I have confessed to being shocked by it this week, as it feels like we should have another month or so, but no. On Friday a man in a van comes to take our (meagre) belongings away and pack them in a container-ship bound for Australia; the following Monday we hand over the keys to this apartment and move ourselves downstairs to Andy’s, with nothing more than our packs, our wits and an arguably-naive optimism about the future.

Oh, and one more week at work.

Today we headed to Holborn for high-tea. Well, something like that: it was actually high tease at a burlesque club called “Volupte”. An indiscriminate building tucked behind the Holborn Viaduct, Volupte’s tame exterior (and a set of thick velvet curtains) hides a fun and funky underground lounge, ill-lit with spotlights of purple, pink and blue-green. As your eyes adjust from the afternoon’s glare to the dim interior light, you see a number of closely packed tables set for two, candlelight twinkling merrily off glass and silverware on each. A few nervous couples are already seated, enjoying the complimentary champagne and wondering what an afternoon of “burlesque” might hold. A small clearing around a microphone designates the stage; at the back, larger tables for birthdays and hen’s nights are already crowded with giggling young women in 1940’s attire.

Billed as “Afternoon Tease”, our show at Volupte included sandwiches (no crusts, thank-you), scones with jam and cream, petit fours and (of course) tea. Such a strange and delightful environment! To be sitting in a Parisian-styled caveau enjoying that most British of past-times, afternoon tea!

And the shows! We started with “Rajesh the Bollywood Lounge Singer”, an Indian man with a remarkable moustache. He sang, he danced (and danced!!), he told risque jokes — all very har-de-har-har, and very much fun — Dee inadvertently laughed out loud at one joke, thanks largely to her familiarity with Indian mannerisms and culture (from work), and he gave her a nod of appreciation, “Thank-you, yes.”

Over the next few hours we saw a “Gateaux Vivant”, the elephant man (er, woman) and a young lady in horn-rimmed spectacles who just really wanted to sell more ice-creams. Only a little bit naughty — it probably caused shock and outrage amongst the more respectable folk back in the forties, but these days you see more skin on an episode of Home And Away — but with a strong sense of humour and showmanship (showwomanship?), and very much fun.

We walked home, hoping to work off some of the delicious scones…