Famous Spiegeltent

Most of the structures that I write about cannot be taken down in 10 hours to fit into two 40ft shipping containers. Okay, so it’s a temporary building and has only been to Brighton twice but to me that can count as Heritage. But is it Hot? Step inside to find out…Welcome to the Famous Spiegeltent!

“Outrageously seductive and full of surprises” said the Brighton Festival Fringe guidebook. Not knowing what to expect, I was intrigued. All I could really remember was that last year, a couple of nearby residents weren’t too happy about the volume of the music when the tent was based in the gardens of the Royal Pavilion.

A lavish entrance sets the scene with various painted tuxedoed freaks, fat ladies, violinists and other circus-folk. Inside, I met with David Bates from Melbourne, the owner of the tent that is just one of a handful surviving from 1920s Belgium, who let me in on a few trade secrets. The 22-sided tent takes 8 hours to construct and consists of over 3000 pieces, each of which is light enough to be carried by one man. The diameter of the main circle of the tent is 19m with an overall floor area of 320m2 and 300 contact points with the ground. The ageing wooden sub-frame was recently replaced with a steel and aluminium equivalent for strength and safety. A team of around ten is required to construct and dismantle the tent aided by two experts from the Klessens family of Belgian Spiegeltent builders.

David wouldn’t give too much away about La Clique, his in-house burlesque sideshow, and after seeing it for myself, I won’t either, other than by saying that it is truly breathtaking. Call 647100 for information and tickets – now!