By: Iman Adams

Its 9pm, I walk into Zula and order a coffee. Yes that is right, a coffee. Cappuccinos are fantastic. It is That Circus Show, a supposed night of saucy burlesque dancers, live performers and music acts. I am curious to see whether it is as debauch as it sounds. Thirty bucks gets you in. Pretty reasonable. I like this indeed.

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Swingsister, Zula Sound Bar, Cape Town Photo by: Iman Adams

I walk upstairs to find an average set-up, some black balloons and fairy lights, with the projector screen to the right of the stage. I am not sure I entirely buy the whole audio/visual experience thing; nobody is looking to the right of the stage when the performers are at the centre. Although, whilst looking upon Swingsister dropping some electro-swing beats, I find the projected images a lot more entertaining. It is 9:30; there are about five people in the room, understandably so, it is incredibly early. However, it does not make the scene any less pathetic. There is no vibe, there is no atmosphere, there is no crowd, and no matter the funkiness of Swingsister’s groove, the emptiness drowns it out.

Let us fast forward to 11pm, where the fun began. Through the past two dreary hours, I had heard whispers running through Zula about the quirky foursome called Sun-Do Q’lisi, and I had been praying this one would pick up the night. My prayers were answered.

It may have just been the lights, but when these four walk on, it is as if someone just dropped an array of colourful paint bombs all over the place. The room has finally filled up; there is excitement, creepy smiling people, and an explosion of bass, brass and cats everywhere. Sun-Do Q’lisi has arrived, and I finally feel like I want to pee my pants with excitement. With the first beat that drops, and the strange harmonies coming through the speakers, it feels as though the room and everybody in it is being transported to a place where all the weird and wonderful things people think and want to do, is being manifested through the four talented men on stage.

The best part about these muso’s is the undeniable stage presence; they are feeling the music, they are feeling each other, and they are feeling the crowd. It is all one big swirling mass of colourful connectivity through an insane collaboration of electronica, instruments and vocal harmonies consisting of occasional animal noises, a vast display of comical facial expressions and hard jamming.

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Sun-Do Q’lisi, Zula Sound Bar, Cape Town Photo by: Iman Adams

Half way through the set, two burlesque dancers’ pop-up onstage, this does not impress me, an average five-minute performance that feels like a distraction. Then to my surprise, Swingsister arrives with fire batons… this is confusing… is she a DJ or does she play with fire? Indulging in both in the same night, at the same event, made it appear as if Zula had some trouble holding on to their line-up. I turn my attention back to the main attraction

After Sun-Do came DJ Tony Finger, at least that is what the program said. As far as I know, DJ Tony Finger is a solo act, but before me stood three men: one with a clarinet, another bashing out on an electric drum kit and one working the macbook and a keytar. The room empties out, but a few crazies stick around to groove to the cool Balkan beats blasting through the system. The music is thoroughly enjoyable, with Sun-Do Q’lisi increasing the good vibe, the space to move is most certainly welcome. Whilst enjoying a bit of a wiggle, I look up to notice that one of the three has left the stage; he comes back, only for another one to leave the stage for a bit and come back. This is annoying, and none of them appear particularly interested in what they are doing. More live cirque performers were promised, but I have lost my enthusiasm, (it seems most of the crowd has) and decide to leave.

That Circus Show-Official Launch Party is not all that I had hoped it would be. It all seemed a bit unorganised, badly marketed perhaps, but even with all the disappointments, I went home chuffed with the one performance that made the whole experience worth it, at the end of the day, it all comes back to the music. Sun-Do Q’lisi ensured my money well spent. Would I go back for another Friday night circus show? That is debatable.

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