David Lister: These creative types have their uniforms just like everyone else

The Week in Arts

When it was reported this week that the London club Soho House had turned away a man for wearing a suit, it seemed laughably odd.

But suddenly all became clear. The man in question had been told by way of explanation that the suit ban was because the club was "a place for the creative industries".

Of course. If any area of life has a dress code, usually a dress-down code, it is the arts. Take your average rock gig. Just where you might think it is natural to be casual, a uniform is de rigueur.

There's sportswear for hip-hop or grime, the latest Topshop dress plus glitter for a girl band, head-to-toe black for emo. Individual artists expect to have their individual styles reflected in the audience. Tinchy Stryder fans are in "star in the hood" gear or Nike; Mumford and Sons aficionados are in waistcoats. Go to see either of the Gallagher brothers and be sure to be in a parka and Adidas. For The Drums, an increasingly popular indie band, it's not just the musicians who are in rolled-up jeans, jock jackets and round-neck T-shirts, it's the entire audience.

Who would dare to dress differently? It would be tantamount to saying that you have no appreciation of the music.

At a Lady Gaga gig, fans who dress to the nines in homage to the performer almost outdress the star. Almost. That's a statement of sorts, but not as much of a statement as that made by fans of older artists whose "I saw the band in 1976" T-shirts aren't just an old garment slipped on in the rush to get to the gig. Such attire says, "Look at me, I'm a real fan and I'm still wearing the tour T-shirt that I bought 35 years ago to show it."

At the other end of the spectrum there's country-house opera. I am off to Glyndebourne today and will put on my dinner jacket and bow tie. I have no wish to be ostracised or be the man in the Bateman cartoon. Besides, most people quite enjoy dressing up occasionally, despite the concern one senses from country opera-house managements that they need to be more egalitarian and end the dress code. They should stop worrying. If they banned evening dress, another uniform would rush to take its place. In fact, there are even hierachies of artistic appreciation in evening dress. A pink bow tie and cummerbund on the Glyndebourne lawns denotes a Wagner specialist.

Not that much has changed since the 18th century when people went to the theatre and opera as much to look at the rest of the audience as at the stage. Arts events demand a uniform just as Soho House does. It might often be studiedly casual and suitably dressed down, but it's a uniform just the same.

Upstaged by the ghost of Pavarotti

Finding a new way of presenting Verdi's most popular aria, "La Donna e Mobile", from Rigoletto, is a challenge to directors. In Jonathan Miller's production at English National Opera, it appeared to come from a jukebox, with the tenor memorably kicking it to get it going again after the initial pause in the song.

This week I saw Lindsay Posner's terrific production of Rigoletto at Opera Holland Park, and he hit on an equally clever notion. In the bar where the tenor sings the aria, there was a television showing Pavarotti performing. The tenor shrugged and turned it off as he commenced the song. It was a neat idea in a production full of great concepts, but I did think it was something of a mixed blessing for the tenor singing the role of the Duke in this production to have the audience's heads buzzing with memories of Pavarotti.

When top buttons had to be done up

Spotting anachronisms in the BBC drama The Hour could become a national sport. Actually, I am thoroughly enjoying the series, set in a BBC current-affairs programme in 1956. There are fine performances from Romola Garai, Ben Whishaw and Dominic West. But there are certain things which don't say 1956. For a start, the secretary Miss Cooper's habit of ending a sentence with an implied question mark may be ubiquitous these days, but I'm not convinced anyone did it even 30 years ago, let alone 50 years ago.

The Ben Whishaw character may be rebellious and part of that rebelliousness may be shown in his leaving his collar unbuttoned while wearing a tie, but again I don't think a BBC interviewer would have been allowed to do a piece to camera with unbuttoned collar back then. It would be unusual even now. But in the 1950s? Even Muffin the Mule had to be buttoned up.

d.lister@independent.co.uk





Arts and Entertainment
Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc, centre, are up for Best Female TV Comic for their presenting quips on The Great British Bake Off

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman as Lester Nygaard in the TV adaptation of 'Fargo'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules

film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book

books
Arts and Entertainment
Panic! In The Disco's Brendon Urie performs on stage

music
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Radio 4's Today programme host Evan Davis has been announced as the new face of Newsnight

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams performing on the Main Stage at the Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, north London

music
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Mathison returns to the field in the fourth season of Showtime's Homeland

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Crowds soak up the atmosphere at Latitude Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Meyne Wyatt and Caren Pistorus arrive for the AACTA Aawrds in Sydney, Australia

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rick Astley's original music video for 'Never Gonna Give You Up' has been removed from YouTube

music
Arts and Entertainment
Quentin Blake's 'Artists on the beach'

Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beach

art
Arts and Entertainment
MusicFans were left disappointed after technical issues
Arts and Entertainment
'Girl with a Pearl Earring' by Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665
artWhat is it about the period that so enthrals novelists?
Arts and Entertainment
Into the woods: The Merry Wives of Windsor at Petersfield
theatreOpen-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Arts and Entertainment
James singer Tim Booth
latitude 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Lee says: 'I never, ever set out to offend, but it can be an accidental by-product'
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe judges were wowed by the actress' individual cooking style
Arts and Entertainment
Nicholas says that he still feels lucky to be able to do what he loves, but that there is much about being in a band he hates
musicThere is much about being in a band that he hates, but his debut album is suffused with regret
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
    Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

    Take a good look while you can

    How climate change could wipe out this seal
    Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

    Farewell, my lovely

    Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
    Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

    Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

    Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
    Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

    Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

    John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
    Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

    Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

    A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
    Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

    Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

    The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
    The 10 best pedicure products

    Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

    Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

    Commonwealth Games 2014

    Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
    Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

    Jack Pitt-Brooke

    Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
    How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

    How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

    Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game