The Smoking Cabinet Festival of Early Cabaret and Burlesque Cinema (1895-1933)



Well hello there. It’s been a while since we’ve updated on The Smoking Cabinet front, but I hope you’ve all enjoyed 2009. We’ve decided not to hold the festival this Christmas but instead move it to March next year – I hope you can all still come along – we have missed you!
In the mean time TSC have been developing our education wing – Mirror Mirror – participating in National Schools Film Week amongst other things, and looking at TSC going on a UK tour in early 2010. For more information and to keep up to speed with us please do contact


A great big THANK YOU to everyone who took part in and partied at TSC 2008. I think you’ll agree it was a truly excellent adventure for us all from the elegantly scored screening of PICCADILLY by MINIMA, to the mid-afternoon dance display high-jinks of the BEES KNEES; Bryony Dixon’s witty introduction to Coney Island and the shimmering SHELLAC SISTERS to the final balloon drop on Sunday night. A special thanks, also, to Laura, Nadia and all the staff at the Curzon, Soho – we couldn’t have done it without you guys!x


Hold press! Amazing musical collective Minima have been booked to score E A Dupont’s classic Piccadilly on OPENING NIGHT. Here’s some info about them: Minima’s music is an audacious, 21st-Century interpretation of the images of silent films: leading, following, surprising, hypnotising. Comprising drums, bass, guitar and cello, Minima use no backing tracks in their performance – it is a totally live experience. Minima were formed in 2006. They have performed in cinemas and art centres, as well as music-orientated festivals and challenging, unusual venues such as churches and railway arches. The soundtracks evolve organically, each musician adding depth and detail with each performance.
Minima’s repertoire includes the 1928 French cult classic The Seashell and the Clergyman, the classic 1919 German Expressionist film The Cabinet of Dr Caligari, the short German animation Symphonie diagonale from 1924 and a semi-improvised soundtrack to 1960s/70s British Structuralist films.



Westminster Arts have very kindly agreed to support The Smoking Cabinet again in 2008. We are very grateful for their continued faith in the festival and allowing us to programme cinema that is unique, different and fun – to give the audiences of Westminster and wider London – an opportunity to explore and experimental with early cinema in an entertaining way.


My gosh! SO much to tell!
We really have pulled out the stops for you guys this time around; not only are FANCY CHANCE, THE SHELLAC SISTERS, THE BEES KNEES and BFI NATIONAL ARCHIVE CURATOR OF SILENT CINEMA – BRYONY DIXON – all CONFIRMED for our three day fest but also the wonderful MS ROSIE COOPER and supremely highly regarded musicians MINIMA will be part of our BOOM OR BUST PANEL DISCUSSION (Saturday 13th 6pm) and scoring evocative classic PICCADILLY (1929) (Midnight Movies Vs The Smoking Cabinet Friday 12th December from 9.30pm) respectively.

If you are a lucky lucky resident of the south east / central areas you may have already come across our beautiful flyers; if not don’t worry they will be out in the east, Notting Hill, Camden, Brixton and that by the end of the week. The details of just how everyone above is involved are inside so keep your eye out for the tiger a-top of the globe….


We are hosting two (!) opportunities to dance dance dance in celebration of our ON WITH THE DANCE shorts programme on Saturday 13th December. The workshops will be delivered by the fantastic BEES KNEES with be at 4pm and 5pm and last half an hour each.
So yes before settling down to enjoy the wonders of DIVINE AND CHARLES IN APACHE DANCE, CHORUS GIRLS AT AN EXHIBITION and DICKSON SOUND EXPERIMENT you too can shake that tail feather down at the Curzon Soho Bar.

Places are limited so you NEED TO BOOK in order to take part. Please email us at – stating which time you want 4pm or 5pm – and we will confirm your booking and send further info about the sessions.

To book for ON WITH THE DANCE – or any other part of our fantastic programme – please visit Curzon Cinemas.


The Smoking Cabinet is delighted to announce lingerie boutique PLAYFUL PROMISES as its official 2008 sponsor!
For a second year we’ll be celebrating early cabaret and burlesque cinema at the CURZON SOHO with screenings, live performance, talks and much much more.
Established in 2004 by Emma Parker, Playful Promises lingerie is a quirky flirtatious brand creating innovative boudoir collections with a contemporary edge. The Playful Promises philosophy embraces fun and flirtation; a perfect fit with The Smoking Cabinet outlook.
Collabortive highlights of the festival include a special guest performer on Opening Night before we unveil The Smoking Cabinet Vs Midnight Movies with a screening of A.E. Du Pont’s Piccadilly (1929) as well as a handful of head turning usherettes modelling the latest in Playful Promises corsetry; a Playful Promises PRIZE TOMBOLA on our Coney Island Special day (Sunday 14th December) and a saucy seaside themed range of lingerie to be paraded around the Curzon Soho Bar as we tip our sailor caps to the maritime fun and games of yesteryear.

Follow the link to find out more about the fantastic range of lingerie offered by Playful Promises

Tickets are NOW ON SALE for the The Smoking Cabinet 2008. Please visit for more info.


Yes you heard er read right! Tickets are now ON SALE for The Smoking Cabinet 2008 – playing 12th-14th Dedember. If you want to see dance dreams galore, if you want to see the crazy Gus Elen, boxing cats and Bob’s very creepy Electric Theatre, if you want to see Fatty Arbuckle AND Buster Keaton the CLASSIC Coney Island from 1917 (!), if you want to see the Curzon bar BECOME not only a 1920s WEST END CLUB AND a SEASIDE FUNFAIR (how will we do it in this landlock’d city of ours?!?), if you want to the amazing FANCY CHANCE, SHELLAC SISTERS and others you must BOOK BOOK BOOK either at or on 0871 7033 988, do it now x

Film Fun for 2008

Yes, yes we’re back with a late December programme at our favourite London location. Details below – there’s still A LOT to be confirmed mind you – SO WATCH THIS SPACE! Tickets will be ON SALE SOON – we’ll let you know when x

The Smoking Cabinet 2008 Film Programme 12th-14th December 2008

Fri 12th Dec Bar performances and live music from 8:30pm, screening 11.30pm

Opening Night The Smoking Cabinet Vs. Midnight Movies: Piccadilly (1929)

For this year’s opening night The Smoking Cabinet have teamed up with Midnight Movies to offer something a little different; live performance and music in the bar from 8:30pm followed by a special screening of E.A. Dupont’s Piccadilly (1929) featuring Anna May Wong.
Tickets £8 advance / £12 on door

Sat 13th Dec 6:00pm

On with the Dance!
A joyous evening of dance and showgirl themed films, featuring delights from Divine and Charles, Fatima and Carmencita, The Whirl of the Charleston (1927) and chorus girls galore.

+Discussion Boom or Bust?
1894-1933 tracks the emergence of an entirely new form of entertainment in the shape of the moving image and cinema. We look at how the film absorbed more established forms of entertainment of the time from vaudeville to cabaret, burlesque and the musicals. We’ll also look at the cyclical nature of trends, asking why certain forms have boomed at specific times and bust at others. We’ll also ask if the death bell tolls for the current fascination with burlesque?
Tickets £8

Sun 14th Dec 4:00pm

Sandow the Muscle Man and the Spirit of Coney Island.
Roll up, roll up to witness boxing cats, the king of coins, and Edwin S Porter’s classic Coney Island at Night (1905), screening in a celebration of the extraordinary amusement empire that astonished, delighted and shocked a nation. There’s a rare opportunity to see Fatty Arbuckle and Buster Keaton’s 1917 romp Coney Island and to revel in the most magnificent spectacle of the world’s mad hunt for pleasure!
We’ll provide a Coney Island experience in the bar as we tip our sailor hats to the seaside fun and amusements of yesteryear and offer a free tipple to all guests!

+ Special guest speaker on the history and significance of New York’s decadent palace of pleasure.
Tickets £12

Sun 14th Dec 6:00pm

Closing Night : That’s all folks!
Join us for our last screening, live music, cakes and dancing as we wind down with an eclectic variety finale including Bob’s Electric Theatre (1909), Gus Elen: It’s a Great Big Shame and La Boite a malice (1903).
Tickets £8

Branchage Film Festival

Oh dear, will our popularity ever stop? Having completed a highly successful if some what wet screening at Latitude in July, TSC has now been booked to play Branchage, Jersey’s newest international film festival running 25th-28th September.

Latitude was excellent – each film was greeted by a round of applause, the rain forced some to take cover in our tent who then stayed on to enjoy despite the sun coming out and our panel discussion Women in Burlesque: Empowerment vs Titillation (featuring the wonderful Marisa Carnesky, Fancy Chance and Fred Bear – standing in for forthcoming air hostess Amy Lame) was highly informative, opinionated and entertaining!

Plans are afoot for December 2008, we do so hope you’ll be able to join us. To keep informed please join the mailing list by contacting

Latitude 2008

And how are you? I know its been a while but we have some news at least! Top of which is announcing our appearance at Latitude 2008. TSC shall be hosting a short screening of our favourite films followed by a talk on women in burlesque with Marisa Carnesky and Amy Lame. Please join us at 2pm Saturday 19th July in the cabaret tent.

We are also gearing up for second Smoking Cabinet Festival of Cabaret and Burlesque Cinema at the end of 2008 with more films and frollicks, maybe just maybe a UK tour. The best way to keep informed of all is to JOIN OUR MAILING LIST by mailing

2007 Opening Night Sells Out

Hello hello one and all and a happy new year to you! Well, the smoking cabinet festival of early cabaret and burlesque cinema was a truly excellent affair with us selling out on opening night and playing to very packed houses all the rest of the weekend. The films were accompanied by amazing musical maestros the London Improvisers Orchestra, Chris Dowding and friends, the talks with the wonderful Dr Vanessa Toulmin (National Fairground Archive, Admission All Classes), Suzanne Andrade (1927) and Simone Baird (Time Out), and Bryony Dixon (BFI), Amy Lame (Duckie) and Marisa Carnesky proved insightful and entertaining; and where would we have been without Marawa the Amazing, Chameleon Collective (in association with Future Cinema), Bourgeois and Maurice and Broken Hearts DJs?!? Not to forget Lisa Appignanesi, tsc patron and author of The Cabaret, who kicked the whole thing off.

We thank you all from the bottom of our hearts, audience and acts alike. 2008 holds the possibility of future screenings, education projects (just what would you like to know about early moving images?) and fingers crossed a UK tour… See you there!

p.s. best way to keep informed is to JOIN OUR MAILING LIST at

Three Amazing Additions!!!

Marisa Carnesky
The legendary Marisa Carnesky will now be speaking as part of the panel discussion: Women in Burlesque and Cabaret: Empowerment vs Titillation. Don’t miss her, plus Amy Lame of Duckie and Bryony Dixon, Curator of Silent Film, BFI after a screening of the notorious The Blue Angel (1930) on Sunday 9th December 12pm sharp.

London Improvisers Orchestra
The LIO have oh so kindly agreed to lend us their services on the OPENING NIGHT of TSC, which is Friday 7th December. They haven’t even seen the films – and ladies and gentlemen – they don’t want to! Doors open, acts and complimentary drinks (thanks to Tiger Beer!) from 7.20pm / screening 8pm

Vertigo Article Online
Hey hey have a look here. Even if it was penned by two of TSC’s most esteemed producers, still a fine piece of writing I think you will agree, and an excellent introduction to the smoking cabinet, our thoughts and feelings, oh yeah, and the films …

Opening Soiree

We are delighted to be able to announce not only The Smoking Cabinet’s full programme but also our latest scoop in gathering the legendary Bourgeois and Maurice, the scintillating Future Cinema and the amazing Lisa Appignanesi for the opening night soiree that shall begin The Smoking Cabinet on Friday 7th December for only £10!!!

Short Cuts Early Cinema Offer

Get Early Cinema From Factory Gate to Dream Factory cheaper! The Smoking Cabinet has teamed up with Wallflower Press to offer this excellent guide to the world of early cinema exhibition for only £10. Here you go…

Westminster Arts Support

The Smoking Cabinet is now supported by Westminster Arts. We are very grateful to all involved.

Westminster Arts logo