INTERVIEW: PROHIBITION CABARET BAR | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Prepare to be transported back to the delights of prohibition-era America and the heart of the Jazz Age, where cocktails, cabaret and good times are to be had. Relax and be entertained in the unique setting of The Prohibition Cabaret Bar, the brainchild of owner Mitch Mitchell, which started life under a railway arch in Gateshead five years ago, before hopping across the Tyne to its current Pink Lane site in the former Jazz Club premises.

Mitch tells me about his inspiration for the venue which came from his love for all things 1920s and 1930s. “Seeing my Grandad forever in a full three-piece suit, Brylcreemed hair, fob watch, the works – I was hooked! In fact, I have a photograph of my Grandad taken all suited and booted on his 21st birthday back in 1931 on the wall in the bar to forever inspire me.”

Recently the venue has welcomed back live performance to its diminutive stage, and October sees an eclectic programme of low key small scale performances showcasing some of the UK’s finest artists. Highlights include improvised comedy from duo PeaSoup on Saturday 3rd; an acoustic set from local folk punk heroes Driven Serious on Saturday 10th; a burlesque revue on Friday 16th; live jazz from The Papermoon Trio (Saturday 24th) and Neil Williams and Ben Holland (Friday 30th); while Saturday 31st sees the venue celebrate their fifth birthday with a Halloween special featuring Strictly Smokin’ Big Band’s Alice Grace and Lloyd Wright, with much more in the works.

Without the live music Prohibition just wasn’t working as just a bar. That’s never what we did.” Mitch explains. “The town is full of bars; Prohibition is a cabaret bar. We’re well known for our jumping jazz gigs, plentiful party nights, raucous receptions…Without our edge we really have struggled. Having live music back, albeit as just a solo, duo or trio at most (for social distancing safety) has been very well received indeed and feels a LOT more like what we do best. We entertain!”

It is of course necessary for the venue to be operating at a reduced capacity, which for such a bijoux space has its challenges. “To have my capacity dropped from 66 to 28 upstairs and from 50 to 19 downstairs I am struggling to make ends meet somewhat, but the business is open and I have customers and those who are visiting have said they’ve felt safe and have enjoyed their evening and had forgotten all about what’s going on outside as they’ve been so relaxed – THAT is a huge relief to me! I did everything I could to make sure I’ve adhered to all the rules but not taken too much away from the aesthetic and overall feel of the bar.”

Mitch is clearly thrilled to be open and able to offer live performance in a safe and supportive way for all involved. “Everyone, including the acts, have really enjoyed being back. Everyone is super supportive of the acts and are clearly appreciative of their dedication to getting back on stage and performing in such unusual circumstances. We’re usually left with no seats remaining by the midway point of a performance or set so the attraction to see some live entertainment is definitely still out there and I’m more than happy to provide!

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