Bompas & Parr and The Last Tuesday Society present
Celebrate ‘Cry January’ at the UK’s first Cabaret of Death since 1954
Free exhibition on view 16 January – 18 February 2024 at The Last Tuesday Society. Book a table in The Absinthe Parlour for the Cabinets of Death cocktail menu.
To celebrate the launch of the new publication Cabarets of Death by Mel Gordon and Joanna Ebenstein and published by Strange Attractor Press, Bompas & Parr & Joanna Ebenstein have co-curated an exhibition celebrating the spectacle of the ‘Death Cabarets’ found in Paris in the early 20th century and the rituals and motifs surrounding death.
The Cabinets of Death exhibition, death-based cocktail menu and convocation will be launching on 15th January, following ‘Blue Monday’ the saddest day of the year, and open to the public from 16th January.
Wednesday 31st January 6PM – 9PM — You’re invited to the launch party for the ‘Cabarets of Death’ book, Death Museum & Cocktelarium at The Last Tuesday Society (11 Mare Street London E8 4RP). Entry is free but RSVP is required.
16th Jan – 18th Feb: Cabinets of Death – Death-based exhibition and ‘Cry January’ experience open to the public at The Last Tuesday Society. Exhibition is free and located in the main seating area of The Absinthe Parlour. Reserve a table in The Absinthe Parlour to explore the special Cabarets of Death cocktail menu via https://thelasttuesdaysociety.org/absinthe-parlour
31st Jan: Launch party for the ‘Cabarets of Death’ book and exhibition. Free RSVP via this event page.
In 1892, Paris’ Montmartre district saw the opening of three eerie cabaret restaurants which were dedicated to offering their guests bardo-like journeys into the afterlife. Each of the three venues presented a unique, comic-grotesque vision of death, set in menacing environments of Nothingness, Hell, or Heaven. They featured costumed characters, hidden optical illusions, improvisational spectacles, nudity, invented cuisines, and audience participation. For a small fee and a dinner, guests could experience the great mystery of the afterlife as a daunting amusement. An order of ‘‘Two glasses cholera, one gangrenous leg and two consumptions!’ were often heard at the bar for drinks, which were then served by a waiter dressed as a pallbearer chanting ‘Thy will be done’.
“To astonish you, to give you a sensation, to quicken into some sort of action your jaded nocturnal nerves, is the object of all these places.” New York Times May 14, 1911.
Bars have historically held a significant place in society as essential public spaces for social interaction and sociability. They serve as meeting points where individuals from diverse backgrounds gather to socialise, engage in conversation, unwind, and establish connections. However, data from CGA by NIQ revealed that the number of licensed premises has decreased by 31% in the past 20 years, particularly drink-led pubs and bars. With their increasing closure, this removes societal support networks hence diminishing the opportunities for community engagement.
As emerging theories gain traction regarding the importance of crying, new perspectives suggest that tears play a role in triggering social bonding and human connections. To delve deeper into the science behind emotions, especially concerning tears, we will be collaborating with scientists who specialise in the world of neuroscience.
During the 19th century, and especially in America during and after the Civil War, supposedly, tear catchers were used as a measure of grieving time. Once the tears cried into them had evaporated, the mourning period was over. It’s a good story—too good. In truth, both science and history agree, there’s really no such thing as a tear catcher.
This myth will be transformed into an interactive experience for Londoners in the month of January. Guests will have the chance to contribute to London’s largest tear catcher throughout January. We’ll provide guests with prompts and tools to shed tears into our ‘Cry January’ vessel, gradually building it up over the month.
The Cabarets of Death book, authored by Mel Gordon and edited by Joanna Ebenstein, explores the intriguing emergence and impact of three eerie cabarets in Paris’ Montmartre district in 1892: Cabaret du Néant (Cabaret of Nothingness), Cabaret de l’Enfer (Cabaret of Hell), and Cabaret du Ciel (Cabaret of Heaven). These venues provided chilling experiences focused on death and the afterlife, distinct from the typical entertainment-driven cabarets of the era. Despite their irreverent approach, these cabarets garnered attention and influenced other cities like New York, Berlin, and Brussels. The book also highlights the work of renowned photographers and artists who immortalised the eerie scenes and characters within these cabarets through souvenir postcards and publications, a captivating legacy that continues to fascinate enthusiasts.
Architects of taste; feeding minds and stomachs. London based, operating globally, Bompas & Parr is recognised as the leading expert in multi-sensory experience design, delivering emotionally captivating experiences across various industries. Originally known for their expertise in jelly-making, founders Sam Bompas and Harry Parr expanded their venture into a full-fledged creative studio, specialising in food and drink design, brand consultancy, and immersive experiences. Leveraging backgrounds in marketing and architecture, alongside a diverse spread of talents among the 20-strong team, the studio’s activations are marked by bold ambition, distinct aesthetic style and interpretive vigour that’s unrivalled among creative agencies. Notable projects include Alcoholic Architecture, the world’s first Multi-Sensory Fireworks display, and the Taste Experience for the Guinness Storehouse. Additionally, they established the British Museum of Food and authored six books exploring humanity’s relationship with food. Collaborating with brands like Coca-Cola, Johnnie Walker, Mercedes, Vodafone, and cultural institutions such as The Barbican and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Bompas & Parr remains at the forefront of innovative experiential design.
The Last Tuesday Society is a ‘pataphysical’ organisation founded by William James at Harvard in the 1870s and run by The Chancellor Viktor Wynd since the early noughties, for the last twenty years or so it has organised a bewildering array of literary salons, masquerade balls, exhibitions, expeditions, seances, courses and of course the infamous ‘Loss; an Evening of Exquisite Misery’ – a reconstruction of Gunter Grass’s Onion Cellar nightclub from The Tin Drum where guests gathered in their thousands to cut onions and cry the noughties away. Since 2009 it has been headquartered on Mare street, in the heart of London’s East End at The Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities, Fine Art & UnNatural History, a 21st century reinterpretation of the Wunderkabinett replete with two headed monsters, shrunken heads, an occult temple, surrealist & magickal paintings, an ossuary, mermaids, unicorns, fairies and other wonders. In 2016 Master Mixologists & Distillers Allison Crawbuck & Rhys Everett joined the society as directors and took the cocktail bar to new heights as the UK’s only Absinthe Parlour. The Absinthe Parlour is a drinker’s cabinet of wonder filled with unusual spirits, from the old world and new, together in one curious exhibition of extraordinary elixirs. In 2019, it was voted “Best Bar in London” at the DesignMyNight Awards and in 2020 their Absinthe menu was shortlisted for Imbibe’s “Specialist List of the Year”.
An independent publishing house and collective focusing on unconventional and fringe topics across various disciplines, including literature, art, history, science, and culture. Founded by Mark Pilkington and Jamie Sutcliffe in 2003, Strange Attractor Press aims to explore and publish works that delve into unusual, obscure, and often overlooked areas of knowledge. Their work explores themes such as occultism, paranormal phenomena, conspiracy theories, counterculture movements, folklore, and alternative histories. Nearly two decades since its inception, with numerous exhibitions and books in its past, Strange Attractor Press continues its mission to celebrate unpopular culture.
Joanna Ebenstein is a Mexico-based author, curator, photographer and designer. She is the founder and creative director of Morbid Anatomy, an organisation that has been exploring the intersections of art and medicine, death and culture, since 2007. She traces her lineage back to Judah Loew ben Bezalel, credited with creating the Golem in 16th century Prague. She is also a proud member of The Order of the Good Death.