The solid brick walls of London Bridge station, of whose lights remain fully illuminated, propose an unlikely setting for this promising crowd, just as the late sunset still lingers. An assembly of young professionals are dressed to impress. Several groups of hipsters too, their hair in disarray, fashioning bold lipstick, anaemic jeans, and clunky shoes that perfectly mismatch. Straddling the masses are those young-at-heart types who sport spangly earrings to symbolize a special night. Passersby on their way to catch a ride home, glance sideways, calculating the reasons for this unexpected grouping.
The queue starts to move as staff point laser guns at dog-eared paper, and rummage through oversized bags. Eager to see where those before have been swallowed, guests are welcomed to a suspicious side door. Resembling insignificant entry, there’s no sign above it’s frame, or obligatory promotion, it’s insides as ambiguous as the night ahead. Though past the immediate disruption of formality, and the scene unveiled seems like trickery against it’s miniscule opening.
An underground intersection of tunnels with impossibly high ceilings, cathedral like in stature, reminisce of the time and effort spent building their bricks and mortar. An old disused railway system, pristine in it’s preservation, like an architectural museum in hiding of bygone days. Bored and abandoned, the subterranean space summons those trespassing to fill it.
The first glance of theatrics greet you as feet touch the ground. Flirting in pursuit of an unattainable shape ahead, glide women dressed in ethereal white.They show no awareness of your existence, their sight pealed to the elusive shadow of a feather on the wall. To your side, you observe a rejected grand piano, it’s state of dereliction indicating lonely times. Further along the main hall, you peer into a darkened room that plays black and white, silent films that flick to the next relentlessly, an indefinite reel rolls on.
In strong contrast to the previous sightings, there exhibits a contemporary bar. It’s optics are placed in the usual order, and affected glass bottles with elaborate script clink on the surface. Buffed barmen and women looking as sharp as the spirits they serve, attend to their customer. Having parted with a note for a blend of your favourite refresher, careful not to spill a drop on a clumsy encounter, you head to the candlelit seating for you and your friends to settle. A long drape of satin material hangs questionably from the depths of the ceiling, nearby.
The chatter heightens and the first hour passes, as the guests engage with their party. Soon the background becomes more of a feature, as a dark figure appears inert and angular, high at the top of her flowing support. Her joints are wrapped strategically, to allow for her mid air suspension. An aerial display gymnast unveils her secrets, as the crowd that has formed beneath her gaze up at the performance.
As the night advances, the event pummels its climax, and the DJ releases his drum and bass mix. The crowd’s line of vision faces a single direction, as to the immediate side of the musical master, is an artist at her easel. Swaying and grinding to the beats as she works, her marks swiping traces on the canvas texture, her paints drip wet, as the audience gets sweatier. Soon the painting is finished, so too is the night, and you slip out of that incidental door. The outside commuters never the wiser to the hidden spectacular within.
Shunt are a collective of musicians and artists who create seasonal events nationwide. For information on their latest collaboration click on the following link.