Weekends meant going-out, at least for me and my husband, before the lockdown. We used to enjoy music gigs, comedy nights, galleries, museums, restaurants, etc., whatever stimulated us in multicultural London.
This habit of ours has been replaced by stay-at-home, consuming online streamings or recorded videos instead. However, it’s obvious that the artists miss real audiences, and viewers miss a real participation feeling.
The social restrictions slowly being lifted, we happened to have opportunities to go out to two very different cultural events on Saturday 29th August. Two events in one day? Hmm, it sounds like our old normal… except that we should take social distance measures on both sites.
It’s my husband’s thing rather than mine. Together with his best friend, we went to an exhibition about electronic music, curated by the Design Museum in South Kensington. They limit the number of visitors per slot so that the building could avoid crowds. They’re very well-organised in the social distancing measures.
Though it was an exhibition full of materials, it definitely had a feel of socially-distanced clubbing, with non-stop playlists of electronic music in the background. Walking between the objects and visuals, it was very difficult not to respond to the pulses and beats. Despite the heavy usage of machinery and artificial intelligence, this particular music genre has something which appeals to the primal human instinct of wanting to dance.
(Photo by Mykadelica)
I’ve been concerned about performing artists and venues during the pandemic, including flamenco artists I’ve personally known. I had therefore absolutely no hesitation to book tickets and support a long-awaited live gig by London-based flamenco musicians, Tito Heredia and Demi García Sabat. A flamenco dancer and teacher, Mel Day, organised it with a kind support of her workplace, St. Martins-in-the-fields, next to the famous Trafalgar Square.
Without a singer or dancer, it was a simple but profound set of flamenco guitar (Tito) and percussion (Demi) only. According to Mel, the venue was reluctant to involve a singer this time, sadly but understandably. Hopefully, we could welcome back a cantaor/cantaora in an indoor venue sometime soon.
Each table was nicely and safely positioned in the cosy room with warm wooden walls under ambient lights. It was lovely to catch up with quite a few flamenco friends who were also happy to support our local musicians. Tito’s guitar was eruptive and deep, which sparked with Demi’s crisp and vibrant rhythms. Mel also decorated the last Bulerias with a nice pataita. We felt ‘our old days’ were almost coming back...
How did we feel?
Going out to enjoy two cultural events was like having our old normal back with a twist of new normal. On our way home, I was feeling uplifted, although we were also aware that the situation is still hard for artists.
Demi showed his concern about the delay of proper opening of music venues, while some pubs and restaurants are quite full of people with shrunk distance. Some places are somehow allowed to gather people, but not music venues…
We’re indeed living a strange moment. What we can do is try to support artists and cultural venues, and keep our love for arts, whatever genre it is.
Electronic: From Kraftwerk to The Chemical Brothers (until 14th February 2021)
Demi García Sabat