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Culture, Music

Hello Sailor

by Laura Steiner / 16.08.2010

Nothing like a testosterone party to celebrate Women’s Day. Though judging by the stockings, eye shadow and red lipstick – I have more testosterone than most of the lovely bros at Mercury Lounge tonight. This is one of the best parties I’ve been to in Cape Town. It had everything. Cross-dressing, gender-bending, macho emancipation and good – real good – music.

Right off I hear “El Kilo” by the Cuban band Orishas on the sound system. Caribbean reggae is a chill surprise at this grungy venue. What better than the lively tropical streets of Havana – sipping mojitos and chomping cigars. It chimes with the beer, cigarette and human sweat cocktail that is the Mercury on this balmy night. And let’s be honest – its unlikely Fidel would approve of such a party. Drag-queens everywhere, men in skirts kissing girlfriends wearing mustaches and an overworked cotton candy machine giving everyone sticky face.

First up is Mr. Cat and The Jackal – this is a talented outfit. They sound like Rumanian pirates, rollicking and wild, like a Kusturica film, and they sure as hell look like women of the night tonight! The singer is wearing curlers. The band rock wigs and skin-tight tanks with miniskirts. There’s accordion, guitar, a banjo-like thingy, lap steel – the list goes on and somehow the messily infectious combination works. The band even swap instruments and roles. This is fluid gypsy music tapping into an itinerant culture with nothing to lose. Everyone is dancing (however the hell one dances to this). And when you thought it couldn’t get any better – they whip out a buccaneer-sounding cover of Mary Poppin’s “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”. Only my favorite child-hood movie and I’m sold. Easily one of the most entertaining gigs I’ve ever seen.

Intermission and sexy “ladies” get up on stage for the “best-costume” contest. There’s enough fishnets and spandex to kickstart yet another return to the 80s. Manly men in women’s clothing. It’s kinda hot. Some are into the frisson – enjoying the chance to loosen up. Others are taking the contest way too seriously. Dudes will be dudes. All eyes are set on that glittery tiara.

Hog Hoggidy Hog is up. The HHH clan have a strong stage presence and it’s obvious that they’ve been doing this for quite some time. Vocalist George Bacon is in a pink wig tonight. He sings like he’s singing to a close group of friends. Whenever Bacon hits a high note the crowd roars. I’m not a huge ska fan and to be honest by the third song everything is sounding pretty samey. My attention drifts to the mosh pit. Arms fly everywhere and strapless dresses slip down to hairy knees. Makeup’s smeared over everyone’s face. Despite the girlishness – tonight was no cat-fight. Best time of the month.

Images © Laura Steiner.

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