NIGHTCLUBBING – Live Collision – Project Arts Centre – Review
Part of the Live Collision Festival – 24th to 28th April, 2019
1981: Grace Jones releases her landmark album ‘Nightclubbing’; her body is brown and soft.
2015: Three women are refused entry into a London nightclub; their bodies are brown and soft.
As you enter the Cube in the Project Arts Centre, two of the performers are already on stage. They are both musicians, playing brooding guitar and keyboard along with a drum machine and some electronic trickery. There is a large piece of dense fabric on one side of the stage. As the performance begins a hand emerges from within the fabric and it starts to move.
This is a performance piece by artist Rachael Young that blends live music, spoken word, movement and dance to create an unusual and sometimes spellbinding performance. One of the few clues to what the piece is about is the two line description on the program included above, one telling of the life of Grace Jones and the other of a failed attempt by three black women to gain entry into a nightclub. There is no strong linear narrative to the piece, instead, we get spoken word poetry giving you ideas and sentiments on race and colour in modern England.
Rachael is an artist that has performed at the Lowry, Tate Modern and the New Art Exchange, among other venues. She also works as a lecturer at the University of Roehampton, where she teaches on London Theatre’s MA course. She describes her work as “theatre, live art, interactive installations and socially engaged projects”.
The piece has different stages where Rachael interacts with various props. These include oddities such as a hula-hoop, soil and a vast collection of looped cord. The music and the spoken word sections ground the performance, giving it texture and substance. While it never does anything as obvious as discussing the issues head on, it gives a rich and stylised account of the many complex issues it covers. It is a very stylish performance and there is an emphasis on poise and beauty, much like Grace Jones’ own work.