Tom’s Guide to the Speakeasy Spectacular

One week to go! It’s been a topsy turvy few months but I’m so excited about next weekend. With some incredible support, we have pulled together what is set to be an incredible day and night out – the Swingamajig Speakeasy Spectacular. With that in mind, I thought I’d give you guys a behind the scenes lowdown on what we’ve got in store – and the things you really don’t want to miss! 

The doors of Boxxed, Digbeth, will be thrown wide open at 3pm – we’d recommend getting there on time, as things will kick off with a bang. Last entry is at 7pm and we’ll be keeping the party going until 4am.

We have a cloak room, to keep any valuables/bulky coats safe, and delicious street food will be provided by:

  • PST Kitchen – the legends behind The Roots Yard’s famous jerk chicken at Shambala (from before Shambala went meat free, naturally..!)
  • Hungry Toad – purveyors of mouthwatering Mexican food – these guys  have been at every Swingamajig event since we started.
  • Pizza Love – scrumptious wood fired pizza slingers.

The event has one main room (bands by day and DJs after midnight) as well as an upstairs room which is our swing dance/second DJ space, a botanical themed chill out speakeasy style room downstairs and a food court with games and activities too. The speakeasy room has been designed and decorated by Electric Swing Circus’ own Vicki Olivia. This space will play host to a couple of stalls, selling vintage finery and treasures, as well as walkabout performers from Steamship Circus and Swingamajig’s resident magician Marc Lavelle will performing a parlour style magic show at around 4pm.

Circe’s Diner, an absolutely incredible acoustic duo will be doing a busking set in the Speakeasy room at around 6.30pm. This intimate, unplugged set won’t appear on any lineups, but it will be incredible, I was literally knocked sideways the first time I saw these two perform! 

Our first band of the day, The Heels, will take to the stage at 3pm sharp. I’ve been head over ‘heels’ (sorry) for this Birmingham based ska band since I first saw them many years ago, both the rhythm and the horns sections blow my mind every time. There’s about 9 of them on stage and I cant think of a better way to start the party with a bang.

Straight after the Heels kick things off, our Swing Dance workshops will begin, upstairs – courtesy of our mates at The Swing Era. They’re running two classes, one just after 3pm, and one just before 4pm. Both classes are suitable for complete beginners, so don’t be shy and come get stuck in. Once the classes finish, the upstairs room will play host to 3 hours of sweet Swing music, from DJs Martin Safar & Andy Cave. 

(The Swing Era run regular lindy hop classes in Birmingham and we’re partnering with them for our usual Stomp Stomp swing dance workshops on Saturday May 5th too, more on that HERE.)

Next up in the main room, at 4:25pm is Harry Jordan (AKA Harry and the Howlers) if you are into rock n roll, do NOT miss this set. These guys have taken the scene by storm for very good reason, and are definitely ones to watch.

At 5:35pm, The Rin Tins take to the stage. We love them so much that we keep asking them back – and you lot rave about them every single time, in our annual feedback questionnaire. An absolutely phenomenal live band, playing turbo-charged festival rock and roll. It’s going to go off.

At 6:55pm, it’s time for Full Tilt, a 12 piece New Orleans Swing band, straight outta London. Brass-heads, if acts like Rebirth, Hot 8, Youngblood or Hypnotic Brass Ensemble are your bag, this is going to be right up your street. If you’ve never heard New Orleans swing live before, prepare yourselves – these guys are monster players, and I can not tell you how hyped I am about this show.

At 8:20pm, it’s Grinny Grandad, performing for the first time with a full 7 piece band, with horns and a full rhythm section, which is bloody exciting. Signed to Freshly Squeezed music, they play their own style of big beat and vintage remix with soaring melodies and catchy hooks.

At 9:40pm, we (Electric Swing Circus) take to the stage, for what promises to be a super special show for us, after the rollercoaster ride of organising Swingamajig this year. We are also being joined on stage by our horn section too – the ESC Grand band, and we have some brand new tunes for you. 

The last live act of the night, starting at 11pm sharp, are one of my favourite live acts of all time – Oh My God! It’s the Church. We first stumbled across these guys after one of our shows at Edinburgh Festival and were instant converts. If you haven’t had the pleasure of being in OMG’s congregation before, you’re in for a treat – but don’t spoil the surprise by looking them up; just be there. This lot are absolutely tearing up the festival circuit at the moment and I heard on the grape vine that it might be the Reverend’s birthday too…

Now it’s onto the DJs. Kicking things off at midnight, it’s Duke Skellington, joining us from the US of A.
The Duke is one third of Birmingham/Los Angeles based Electro Swing record label Ragtime Records. He’s also one half of DJ/producer duo The Vaude Villainz. It’s his debut Birmingham show, so let’s give him a very warm, Brummie welcome.

Next up, at 1:30am, it’s Hong Kong Ping Pong – the party starters who program the Scour Records room when we do the full fat festival. This bunch have been instrumental in bringing funky breaks to the UK – their trademark bouncy base lines never fail to get the dance floor jumping.

The final DJ act of the night in the main room, is billed as the Swingamajig Allstars, organised by C@ in the H@ (who programs most of our DJs) playing back to back with Swingamajig core crew and some special guests. We will go on for as long as you guys are still dancing! 

In the upstairs room, we have some very varied DJ sets from members of the Swingamajig family:

  • 8pm – Tangawizi (Jibbering Records/Shambala Festival) – vintage tropical set.
  • 9.30pm – C@ in the H@ – serious drum and bass
  • 10:30pmSkant (Swingamajig PR and artist liaison) – drum and bass into jungle
  • 11:30pm – Flibb (Swingamajig resident and core Shambala Speakeasy Crew) – pure party bangers
  • 12:30pm Tallulah Goodtimes – ‘reet neat beats for dancing feet
  • 1:30am – Phat Sam – a unique party blend of of electro swing sounds
  • 2:30am – Tom ESC (..that’s me) will be closing the upstairs room, with a very silly set of anything and everything remotely related to Swingamajig.

So there it is, the Swingamajig Speakeasy Spectacular, you guys are in for a real treat, bring your dancing shoes, don’t forget to dress up and see you there on the 6th May! It actually looks like we might just be lucky with the weather, with whispers of a mini-heatwave approaching. Feel free to do a little sun dance on our behalf. 

Big love, Tom – Swingamajig Artistic Director/Guitarist from the ESC