BY HOWARD DAVIES-ARAI
Even if you’re a regular to the Volks Bar & Club, you might not recognise it after Esme, Nina and Jerome have got their hands on it… Once a month, they transform the Brighton nightclub for a fancy dress, star sign–themed, performance studded, glitter–coated indoor festival – Cabarave.
If you haven’t had a chance to join in yet, it’s the creation of longtime friends Esme Sarfas, Nina Sarfas and Jerome Prud’homme. “Before any of this Cabarave stuff, we did a photobooth at Jerome’s night BassKonnection, dressed as ‘cabaravers’ and it all started from there,” Nina tells me. “Jerome wanted to put on a night at the Volks with a different theme every month, and asked if he could use our name,” says Esme. As the Volks’ events manager, Jerome is usually involved with many of Brighton’s drum and bass nights. “We wanted to put on a more interesting, crazy, friendly and glittery night than the Volks already had,” says Nina, who has previously toured several times as events manager with vintage night Itchy Feet, and can be found snapping pictures as Cabarave’s official photographer – Nina Collada Shots.
Working together to book DJs and performers, the team’s first Cabarave was a roaring success back in April. “We got a very good response. People were telling us they loved seeing the Volks dressed up!” Transforming the Volks into its glittery alter ego can take a lot of time. “We were there from about one in the afternoon until six in the morning the first night. We’re quicker now – we don’t have to get there until half past two,” they laugh. The effort that goes into the night is obvious when you first step in the door; stalls are set up, the walls are coated in fabric, decorations hang from the ceiling and glitter sparkles from the club’s darkest corners. It feels like a festival in full swing. “We really wanted to create something fun and inclusive, which everyone could come and enjoy.”
Cabarave isn’t just a club night but an interactive performance, one that gets bigger and madder as the night goes on. Throughout, several live performers can be expected onstage in between music from both DJs and live bands. “We wanted to do something new,” says Esme. “Although there are a lot of alternative nights out in Brighton, we thought there was nothing regular enough.”
As well as being Cabarave’s creative director and stage manager, Esme is also a talented singer-songwriter in the Brighton scene. “I started writing and performing my own music when I was about 14,” she recalls. “I grew up in a very musical family.” She’s played at almost every venue in Brighton and has a regular gig at Brighton’s Casablanca nightclub with her band, We R Disco, and it’s evident she approaches her gigs and events in a similar way. “We like to include a lot of local talent,” she says. “We like the idea of local performers getting in touch… we like fresh blood!”
The amalgamation of various backgrounds in the Cabarave team brings an eclectic, fun vibe to the night. Fancy dress is very much encouraged, with prizes going to the best dressed, and the live acts are captivating and diverse. Entertainment comes from live bands, cabaret, burlesque, dance, mimes, drag artists, walkabout performances and even an award–winning magician. There are stalls where you can get your fortune told, astrological readings, or simply be covered in glitter. There is, as the cliché goes, something for everyone.
“We ended on a high this year!” Reminiscing about their inaugural year, the three of them laugh, “we had our Halloween night, which was insane! The Volks was packed; it was a really high energy party.” Cabarave will return in February 2018. And for those who’ve never been? “Come and check it out! There’s dancing, dressing up, DJs, live music, performances, glitter… and the drinks are cheap!”