Bratislava Hot Serenaders - The Dance in The Spiegeltent was a little trip back in time for 90 minutes to the gentler and more sedate pace of the inter war years of the 20th century (1920s and 1930s), a time when you expected to hear wonderful music and classic vocals coming through the airwaves via your radio. Dressed appropriately in period style the band and singers certainly looked the part, and played the part as the music of Guy Lombardo, Duke Ellington, George and Ira Gershwin, Paul Whiteman and others from the period filled the Spiegeltent to allow the dancers to do their thing on the dance floor (the chairs had been removed for this show). Some classic big band and vocal numbers played, including “Cotton Club Stomp”, “Love is Here To Stay”, “Happy Feet”, “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love”, “The Mooche” and many others.
There was an air of polite gentility about everything here, and a rigid structure to the format of each song being introduced and where required the type of dance it was for being announced – a slow foxtrot, a Charleston, or whatever, and singers came on to sing their song when required and afterwards politely exited the stage. That for me is where the illusion seemed to stop though. Despite some of our audience going to great lengths to dress in period clothes and give proper attention to the dance moves of the day, this was a little too polite for my expectations of what I imagined Duke Ellington songs from the dangerous days of The Cotton Club to feel like. Somehow, I expected not polite gentility, but dangerous music with an air of decadence about it and lots of pent up energy from band, singers and dancers.
Period costume and setting do at times though make odd companions with the 21st century technology of mobile phones on video mode recording the dance moves or capturing that moment as a photo.
From my seated perspective, the music could easily have been a radio broadcast of a live band. For some reason, that “live” energy was just not connecting too well in the Spiegeltent. As musicians, Bratislava Hot Serenaders are a class act, but somehow they never got up to temperature on this one for me, but maybe that perspective was different if you were one of those filling the dance floor. To be fair to the band, I was not up dancing, and this was advertised as a dance event. The dancers that were on the dance floor all seemed to be having a good time, so I am reviewing this one in the dancers' favour and giving it 4 stars.
Review by Tom King