Review: The Christmas Spiegeltent brings masked revelry to Bristol

21st December 2015


Following its runaway success in recent years, for 2015 Christmas at the Spiegeltent brought in an upgraded and larger mirrored venue, resulting in a swelled throng of revellers for its closing event, the Masquerade Ball. Playing host to an array of crowd-pleasing acts and selling out well in advance, this has clearly become the hottest ticket in town, its scheduling in the last weekend before Christmas guaranteeing a high level of debauchery and frolics.

Arriving just in time for the bonkers and brilliant troupe Lip Sinkers ensured that the night got off to a suitably bizarre start. The group have been a mainstay of the London cabaret scene for a decade, and their act is a simple but effective one: lip sync to music while frolicking around in various states of undress. Their engaging camp antics ensured that the masked audience were drawn forwards toward the stage. 

Meanwhile, in the venue’s second room – incongruously named the Airstream Lounge – the jugs of cocktails lubricating the roisterers meant that The Gumbo Show DJs set was well appreciated. Offering up a pleasingly leftfield mixture of funk and jazz – mostly on 7 inch vinyl – meant that the festivities were far from limited to the main room.

Following LipSinkers and a filler set from the Village Disco were The Swingers, whose blend of electro-swing and breakbeat was perfectly matched to the environment. Electro-swing standards such as the Jungle Book-sampling ‘King of the Swingers’ were handled with aplomb, with a rammed dancefloor attesting to infectious nature of the set. 

All that was left was for DJ Stylus to close the event with a two-hour set to please all manner of itchy feet. The Masquerade Ball – and the Spiegeltent in general – is such a successful and popular event that it is difficult to imagine Christmas in Bristol without it. If the dazzling and multifarious outfits of the crowd are anything to go by, then it is an event which captures the imagination of the city and runs with it.

Conal Dougan