Co-presented by Mangwon’s Dream Dance Studio and Korea Gig Guide, the Shake Shop Vol. 1 will take place on Friday, February 22 at Club Freebird in Hongdae. Created by local bellydancer Eshe, The Shake Shop is a new monthly series that will have bellydancers performing live with Seoul indie bands.
“I wanted to start working with bands on a regular basis because I wanted to offer something new to our audiences,” says Eshe. “I know there are a lot of amazing lineups every weekend in Hongdae so I tried to think of what I could offer that was special and unique. My heart is always calling out for live music. We are so lucky to have such a wealth of musical talent here.”
Eshe gave birth to her first child last November. One week before her baby arrived, she put on a show at Club Freebird where she and her two troupes, Navah and Sultana, bellydanced to live music from the likes of Ninano Nanda, Romantiqua, and Apollo 18 (there’s a pretty awesome video of a nine-month pregnant Eshe dancing while Apollo 18 plays here). The success of that show led to the formation of The Shake Shop.
For The Shake Shop Vol. 1, Eshe and Navah will team up with two great up-and-coming bands, Toyshop and Romantiqua. Toyshop formed in February 2012 after guitarists Ljósaloga and Nova met through a Sigur Rós fan site. Now operating as a quintet, the band are currently recording their first album and hope to issue the disc, which will feature eight tracks of their fantastic, soaring instrumental post-rock, in late winter.
“With this album we are trying our best to express melodic and passionate drastic emotions in a cinematic way,” shares guitarist Ljósaloga. “We’re hoping to show a bit of a nostalgic grey-coloured sadness but with a touch of warmth in it. We’d like our album to make people feel very calm and also feel nostalgic about many past memories.”
Although Toyshop’s songs are a far cry from traditional bellydance tunes, they are very excited about the chance to experiment with their music and performance by collaborating with Eshe and Navah on Friday night.
“This type of show is not a common opportunity for a band like ours and we are always interested in trying something new, so when Eshe asked us about the show, we just had to grab on to this opportunity,” says guitarist Nova.
“We were a bit worried at first about how well our music would fit with bellydancing. But after watching the performances that the bellydancers did with Apollo 18 and Romantiqua, we were amazed at how well bellydance can fit with many different kinds of music. We figured that if we adjust our music just a little bit, we could create something really interesting together with the dancers.”
Having performed with Eshe on several occasions and with Navah back in November, Romantiqua were a natural choice for The Shake Shop Vol. 1. Featuring two ex-members of Oriental Lucy, Romantiqua began playing together in 2010. They had some trouble locking down a permanent drummer early on, but they solved that problem in the fall of 2011 when Anton Brinza was added to the group.
Having shown considerable growth over the last several months, Romantiqua’s instrumental rock cuts seem to become more dynamic and hard hitting with each passing gig. The quartet plan to issue a three-song single called “When and Where” in the coming weeks. A teaser of sorts, “When and Where” should nicely whet the palettes of fans while the group finishes up work on their full-length debut. When that drops in spring, Brinza promises that Romantiqua will have “a CD release party to end all parties.”
“We’re working on new songs right now, but it’ll probably be a while until they’re introduced into the set lists.” Brinza says. “We’re still working on the recordings for the first album, but our main focus now is gigging. We’ve got a ton of shows booked over the next two months, and we’re just working to build our following. Once we finish the album the gigging will only increase so that we can push and promote ourselves. We’re hoping to get into the lineups for some summer festivals. Also, once the album is finished we’re going to make a music video or two.”
According to Brinza, Romantiqua always have a lot of fun performing with Eshe and Navah, making it easy to accept the invitation to play at The Shake Shop Vol. 1.
“It adds another dimension to our songs that we can’t provide on our own,” says Brinza. “As musicians, it’s always exciting to hear the listeners’ interpretations of our music. Belly dancing is such an expressive art form in itself, so we really get to witness the full thoughtfulness of the girls’ interpretations. It helps us to look at our music from a new angle.
“And the visual element works really well with our music. We often talk about incorporating visuals into our performances. But, really, nothing beats live collaboration. The dynamics and danger of live collaboration always brings out the best in us – especially when beautiful women are involved.”
The Shake Shop Vol. 1 takes place on Friday, February 22 at Club Freebird in Hongdae. The show starts at 11 pm and the cover charge is 10,000 won with one free drink. Eshe and Navah will perform alongside Toyshop and Romantiqua. Bellydancers Renata Shim and May of Golden Vardo will also do special guest sets during the show, while JK Pole Dance Korea will be offering up a bit of K-pop dancing and burlesque to add more variety to the night. For more information about The Shake Shop Vol. 1, check out the gigs Facebook event page here.