I assumed I was entering into a night of debauchery and indulgence in the raw, private setting of The Vaults. But I came out reflective and empowered, more than I had expected for this night out. It’s a conceptual art and performance over a supper club.
I arrived at The Vaults for An Evening of Meat through the graffitied tunnel under the railway arches of Waterloo. I was expecting one of those darker London nights – rebellious, sexy, anonymous. I knew there were dancers and that the dinner would be an indulgent feast of meat, go figure, paired with wine in a gritty, cool setting. I came out a few hours later with more to think about than the let-loose, debauchery I was expecting of the night.
Before the dinner and ‘entertainment’ started, guests collected in the buzzing bar for cocktails, complete with sculptures and decoration that hinted towards the table show to come.
After a while you’re called upstairs to the dining room with cavernous ceilings and slim banquet tables to pack in close to your fellow diners and offered wine. The dancers as you enter are in position on the tables, tucked up, laid out, still. At the start of the performance the bodies are vulnerable, slow and shy moving, and diners are warmed up with a chicken liver pate amuse-bouche and wine.
There was a Madame, a matriarch, walking round the tables, interacting with us and her dancers through movements, touch and the wine. The first courses came and went as the women’s dance became more powerful and took on more vigour.
Talking to my better-in-the-know neighbour, I learned more about the performance and creator. Kate March’s all-female international creative collective I AM was actually born in London. She’s since moved around the world, basing herself out of New York and Hong Kong, and has explored many innovative performance conceptions combining the culinary and theatre experience. The vulnerability, domestication and sensuality of females was there, along with their wildness and ferocity. And so it progressed…
At first the dancers were meat in front of us. Then as they rose slowly to vertical there came interaction with the other females and fighting, which the matriarch soothed and separated, before strong balances and positions of amazing control. This wasn’t about exciting the audience or creating a sexy fantasy but provoking it into thought.
The menu has been created by Michelin-trained Chavdar Todorov. It’s almost a shame you don’t get to concentrate on the food more as small plates are periodically served and whipped away as you watch the performance, chat, drink and – perhaps best – look at the reactions of other diners.
The meat-focussed six courses included salt baked potato with yeast beurre noisette and crisp pancetta, carpaccio, braised mutton shoulder and pig cheek oyster served with dahl. A dark Guanaja chocolate and olive oil ganache completed the feast, served, very cooly, in an ashtray with sesame ash for effect, coconut bacon flakes and vanilla smoked salt.
My advice would be to arrive early and drink cocktails in the bar and waiting area before the main event and dinner commences; The wine served is fine – a warning that it’s likely to be swiped by a dancer and downed or fed to you – but it wasn’t a highlight that could have a complimented the evening well.
It’s a provocative night out for sure – a dinner installation with a real edge that’ll shake up your usual London dining experience.
An Evening of Meat have performances from 28 March 2018 – 2nd June 2018 Tuesday – Saturdays. Doors: 6.30pm Dinner: 7.30pm. General Admission Tickets start from £35 Prices include Booking Fee. For more information see online.
The Vaults Theatre