Battersea High Street is a train, tube and bus ride away from my home. But its a place I’d been wanting to go for a while – not because the street is that great, but because if you turn off it, and walk down some nondescript residential streets for about five minutes, you will find yourself at Le QueCumBar, one of the most famous gypsy jazz venues in the world, decorated with portraits of Django Reinhardt, with tasseled lamps and surly-cute waiters with piano braces/suspenders (the poor bastards, I’d be surly too).
My friends Mary and Kamilla and I went to Le QueCumBar on a Tuesday in February, on a jam night (I have since learned that its called a Djam). the night we went, there were about ten people who rotated in and out all night – all ages and many instruments, but only one woman, who kicked off the night. After the first few songs, Mary said ‘how do they just do that?’ And Kamilla, who is a professional musician, looked at Mary like she was nuts and said ‘practice.’
In addition to a night of amazing music in a very idiosyncratic venue, it was a night where everyone was nerdy in their own way: Kamilla talked about music; Mary talked about literature; I talked about birds (Kamilla got psyched about birds with me, which I appreciated more than she could have known. We had a whole talk about the wingspan of albatrosses. Seriously, these people are friends to hold onto.)