“The birds sing a pretty song, and there’s always music in the air.”
Self-proclaimed “pre-war harmonious gypsy swing band” The Stolen Sweets paired up with pals from Portland burlesque collective Rose City Shimmy for an inspired evening of grown-up entertainment Friday at Portland’s Secret Society. Formerly a Masonic temple and currently operating as a multi-story lounge/ballroom/recording studio, The Secret Society looks a lot like Seattle’s Odd Fellows Building, but with heavy red curtains and halls gently brimming with well-dressed people sipping classic cocktails. The perfect location for an old-fashioned burlesque show with a 1920s-1940s musical twist.
According to Rose City Shimmy’s Charlotte Treuse, the “hand in glove” relationship between The Stolen Sweets and the soloists performing together under the moniker Rose City Shimmy began in 2009 when she caught the band opening for Squirrel Nut Zippers. Soon after, the newfound collaborators sold out Portland’s Wonder Ballroom and a uniquely beautiful relationship was born. Rose City Shimmy performs with The Sweets as often as possible, and the ladies pop up solo or together all over the Northwest (Rose City’s Wild West Burlesque show hits Astoria December 10th). Nina Nightshade- a Salem-based performer who runs Bergamot Burlesque- also guest starred Friday; Russell Bruner and Sugar Kane from SwingTime PDX cut some rug for a few tunes, fully clothed. Tables went quickly and I had to peek between heads and shoulders to see, but the combined effect of the music, the lighting, and the girls shimmying in front felt like a step back in time.
A side note: it seems that Portland really has its costuming perfected. Charlotte Treuse was positively dripping in rhinestones behind fluffy white feather fans, and bombshell Hai Fleisch made jaws collectively drop with a magnificent gold ship headpiece and gigantic Isis wings.
This week in Seattle, Sinner Saint Burlesque indulges their own occasional musical dalliance. Thursday night you can catch the lovely ladies in between “official” runs with the accompaniment of The Tits and Brass Band, a five piece off-shoot of The Yellow Hat Band. It’s always a pleasant surprise to hear a horn section at Noc Noc, and the air is charged with a little extra chemistry when the ladies shake it to live music. Sinner Saint packs them in week after week- hit Noc Noc’s Happy Hour if you arrive before 9pm and claim yourself a ringside seat.