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Essay: Matinée

by Paul Hunwick on 17 August 2004

Journalist Paul Hunwick unpicks the cult of the Glitterbugs and their meeting-place, east-London clubnight Matinée.

Journalist Paul Hunwick unpicks the cult of the Glitterbugs and their meeting-place, east-London clubnight Matinée.

Polaroid by Boss Tweed

When Malcolm McLaren comes to your club not once but three times, it’s a safe bet your gathering of like-minded souls is about to be promoted to fully-fledged ‘movement.’

Matinée, held on the first and third Sunday of every month, is home to a growing group of people who call themselves ‘Glitterbugs.’ This is a scene on the brink of explosion. You can’t run a club that has a doorman with a live baby leopard in tow, serves drinks exclusively in china teapots, has your membership cards printed onto razor blades and expect people not to notice. It makes its contemporaries such as Nag, Nag, Nag and Modern Times look like, well, frankly that they’re just not making the effort.

Club promoter and scene-daddy, Simon Dinge, explains: ‘I love those two places but I wanted to start something that combined the energy and sounds of the Electro scene with my passion for forties music and glamour. Somewhere people could really dress up and let themselves go in a sexy, provocative environment. And very much behind closed doors. A bit like Alcoholics Anonymous, whatever happens in the club stays in the club. We’re obsessively strict about that rule.’

Watching a hundred and fifty people quaffing spirits from tea cups from 3pm to 10.30pm on a Sunday, each busting a look that combines Studio 54 glamour with a St Martin’s 2004 attitude, is a trip in itself.

And how about the teapots? ‘Oh, I once saw it in a film set in prohibition and thought it absolutely charming. Well, that and the fact we don’t actually have an alcohol license.’ Watching a hundred and fifty people quaffing spirits from tea cups from 3pm to 10.30pm on a Sunday, each busting a look that combines Studio 54 glamour with a St Martin’s 2004 attitude, to an Electro soundtrack with the occasional burst of big band, is a trip in itself.

No cult is complete without a signature band and for the Glitterbugs this comes in the form of self-styled ‘agro camp’ ensemble, The Liberians. They are three guys dressed (literally) to kill, who throw themselves around the tiny stage of Matinée, stirring up the crowd with arousing songs such as ‘Let‘s Fuck Daddy’ and ‘Cancer Tart’. If they were to fight Scissor Sisters–as they request during their set–there’s little doubt as to whose boa would end up bloody.

Although Matinée has only been running for a little over three months, it’s plain to see by the growing number of style and media big wigs clambering for a razor blade, this is a scene that’s heading stellar. Get in now or wait for the diluted version on a catwalk or in a pop video next year.

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