Given the general decline in locations available for fetish events in these recessionary times, it is heartening to be able to report on the opening of a new fetish venue in London.
After several months of rumours about its impending arrival, The Flying Dutchman finally opened its deviant doors for the first time on September 10, hosting a launch party for an invited audience of fetish club promoters, movers and shakers, fashionistas, body/performance art devotees and other assorted pervs and players.
The couple behind the venture, Antonio and Svetlana, are a pair of latex-loving party animals whom you are likely to have seen for sure if you’ve been to Torture Garden or various other London events.
But whereas some kinksters think themselves lucky if they’ve managed to create some space in their homes for a permanent dungeon/play-room, this couple have gone one better — they live over their own fetish club!
The venue in question is a converted pub in a part of Camberwell, South East London that is sufficiently off the beaten track to be considered almost a quiet backwater, yet at the same time on a 24-hour bus route (343/N343) that makes cabs by no means essential for those dependent on public transport.
The building’s corner location makes it easy to find and its previous life as a pub is immediately obvious from the architectural style, even though the original windows have now all been panelled off from within.
Inside, the vaguely triangular shaped main space offers a decent-sized pub-style bar on one side and there is a performance space/dancefloor area with a (lowish) stage at the sharp end.
There is seating around the walls and a good-sized space in front of the bar for congregating and socialising.
There’s a separate exit to the street at the rear, where stairs also lead down to the substantial cellar, and there’s a small covered outdoor smoking area too. The cellar, or workshop, is technically a separate private space, and not formally part of the Flying Dutchman (which is fully licensed and has a late licence).
The vision for The Flying Dutchman and the workshop is, say the pair, “to create a multicultural space dedicated to bringing together different aspects of London’s alternative scenes, with a special regard for the communities in which we are involved the most: the hedonistic fetish scene and the avant-garde alternative arts”.
The workshop (which includes a medical wet room) is described by its owners as “a fetish-friendly private space dedicated mainly to the arts; drama therapy, filming and photography, and other private events”, and is also available for hire for short periods of time.
The vision for The Flying Dutchman is of ‘a multicultural space dedicated to bringing together different aspects of London’s alternative scenes’
“Both spaces — depending on the number of participants and kind of event — are available for a vast array of happenings from ‘pure art’ to media/promotion events as well as the parties we love,” add the couple.
“While we plan to organise periodic Flying Dutchman events, which we expect to be by invitation only, we look to our friends and community — a growing ‘Dutchman’s crew’ — to continue to provide inspiration and ideas. We believe that there is space for new initiatives and look forward to discussing them.”
On launch night, guests socialised and watched performances by the likes of Kazuyo in the main licensed club space, and were later invited down to the private workshop where pieces of art lined the walls, there was play equipment on loan from Playpenz, and a central space had been kept clear for further performances, including a piercing/suspension show from Mad Alan.
Given this new venue’s “art-perv” ethos, it is of course difficult not to make comparisons with London’s original dedicated art-perv space, Resistance Gallery.
However, this newcomer south of the river is sufficiently different from Bethnal Green’s popular rendezvous that there is surely room for both in a scene as big and multi-faceted as London’s.
The white-walled Resistance is ideal for a wide variety of smallish performance and exhibition-based events, and has proved itself adaptable to various different types of party.
But it does require some imagination to make it feel like anything other than the gallery space it basically is.
As a refurbished pub, the Flying Dutchman offers more of a club vibe from the start — and, with the workshop in play, the option of a full-on dungeon vibe too.
Its walls are perhaps a little less ideal for hanging artwork, but the opening night showed its potential to double as a gallery, just as Resistance can function as a club space.
Judging from the upbeat mood of guests at the Flying Dutchman’s launch, this new venue will prove a welcome addition to London’s roster of hospitable spaces.
Accordingly, I predict we will see some established fetish party promoters trying it out in the near future, either as an alternative to their usual venue or as a potential permanent new home.
I hope it will also encourage people to try new kinds of alternative event there — be they one-offs or regular nights — that could further extend the palette of pervy possibilities in our capital city.
One way or another, as a 100 percent kink-friendly venue, The Flying Dutchman deserves to be fully exploited.
I predict we will see some established fetish promoters trying it out soon either as an alternative to their usual venue, or as a new home