Out of ‘drag’ ‘brunch’ and ‘Bermondsey’ what’s not to like?

Depends on your attitude to each, I guess. If you belong to the generation for whom drag was an edgy, polemical art en travesti led by sharp-witted cock-in-a-frock comedians like Dave Lynn and pre-Radio 2 Lily Savage you’ll be less beguiled by the school-of-Conchita-Wurst laziness of wiry men with chest hair, beards and tattoos inaccurately lip-synching in sweaty leotards.

If, like me, you’ve lived in New York where brunch is a weekend institution afloat on excellent and often bottomless cocktails surfed by a raft of pancakes and crispy bacon you may be initially surprised that for £38 your first course is cold tortilla chips with three different bottled pepper sauces and a single complimentary toothmug of ‘prosecco’ laced, in the lightest sense of the word, with lemon and gin – except that the bottles said ‘Monistrol’ which indicates Sainsbury’s cheaper range of cava.

If, also like me, you lived twenty years in the Conran-developed bit of Bermondsey along the Thames at Butler’s Wharf you’ll know that ‘South Bermondsey’ is definitely its poor relation the stabbier side of Jamaica Road – but the set of railway arches folksily named ‘Almond Road’ which includes Bermondsey Social Club at number 19 has become a home for a nice variety of craft brewers, furniture makers and wine shops. 19 was shut when we arrived and we pondered briefly at its possible association with next door’s ‘BB Bakers’ which we first thought might be a late-night no-holds-barred sex club, but turned out to be a cupcake producer for a genteel tea room in Covent Garden.

Although it might be dual purpose, everyone’s a multi-tasker these days.

Catering is by Forrest Foods (no traceable internet presence) and did improve – well-filled and well-flavoured grilled cheese sandwich with beer onions, a beautifully-presented guacamole and some interesting jerk-anointed but resolutely British sausages were more successful than a shaky Shakshouka – baked eggs with a vaguely North African slush largely dependent on tinned tomatoes.

‘Dessert’ was a handful from a pound shop bag of Cola Bottles and synthetic cinnamon liquorice sticks.

CgAmHfEXEAA_f-CThe performance didn’t rally, though. It’s hard to whip up enthusiasm in a daylight-infiltrated railway arch, but even though they could have blacked out the one window, merely shouting ‘can I get a round of applause’, for doing fuck all, really isn’t the way to fire up a stone cold sober crowd. Despite the fact the guys are pretty competent hoofers, at least in the routines they rehearsed rather than improvised, only ShayShay, who’s worked with Jonny Woo and at Sink The Pink as part of the gender-fluid newer drag scene, has a natural American west coast wit and discernible talent.

Elsewhere you have slack and predictable routines, inept banter and the one thing you never really want to say to a radically sexualized performer – “Could you move it a bit further away from your mouth?”

The microphone.


Hair of the Dog Drag Brunch, Bermondsey Social Club, June 18 and 19.
More dates planned.