Under this bridge, it was Prohibition-era America. There was a hobo playing a harmonica, gangsters in sharp suits and fedoras, girls with feathers fanning out from curls, and loud Chicago drawls shouting into the night with that nasal whine. Hey, you headed for Fat Sam's? My companion was frisked by a policeman up against a brick wall, while molls in t-bar heels chatted away to the forming queue nineteen-to-the-dozen. We were led round the back of the art deco cinema, up some stairs, along a corridor and into a bookshop. The bookseller looked us up and down, opened a hatch in a bookshelf, then swung the whole bookcase open. We climbed through and entered the heart of the Troxy. Or rather Fat Sam's Grand Slam.
Future Cinema had created the perfect speakeasy. Bright white tablecloths covered large round tables. Steaming all-American pasta dishes were served in one corner - macaroni and cheese, classic lasagne - while candy-striped paper bags of popcorn and sweets, along with milkshakes, were on offer in another. Of course there was a cocktail bar. A blues band with double bass and trumpet played flawlessly on the smoky stage. All I could see were sequins, feathers, headpieces, flashing teeth and short shorts on dancing girls. Fat Sam himself naturally compered the evening, which included Leroy's boxing match in Slugger's Gym, a tapdancing bar-cleaner, piano accompaniment to a silent film, and Tallulah's sassy number. She's so sassy. I gotta get me some o' that gap-toothed slinky sass. And of course there was the odd noisy interruption when we all had to duck and lay low as Dandy Dan's men hit the joint. One of his men ran right across a row of cinema seating up top, a spotlight following his crazy stunt all the way.
Then the screen came down and the film began. If it was raining brains, Roxy Robinson wouldn't even get wet. Everyone sang along, whooped and guffawed. I love this film. We could have been anything that we wanted to be...we're the very best at being baaaaad. I would be Tallulah over Blousy any day. Then there was a pause before the final splurge showdown... We all donned ponchos and were passed paper plates loaded with foam. Anyone and everyone was sprayed all over and danced in the evaporating froth. You give a little love and it all comes back to you, la la la lalalala.
So it was a late night, getting home with pinched toes, necessitating a long Sunday lie-in. Then an afternoon of home-made scones eaten warm with cherry jam and squirty cream and watching the 1974 version of The Great Gatsby. It really is 'the seventies does the twenties'. Soft focus, pastel palette, babycham glasses, water fountains, the Charlston, so much champagne, Mia's big-eyed melodrama and Robert Redford in a powder pink suit. SO HOT. And Irving Berlin's What'll I do on the gramophone by the pool. I've been humming it since. What'll I do when you are far away....
|[picture from Encore Avenue]|