The Candlelight Club, January 2018
Our first party of the year took its cue from the recent 100th anniversary of the Russian revolution—but instead of focusing on the rise of Bolshevism, we looked at the thousands of exotic, elegant, cultured, and frequently hard-up White Russians who fled with their furs, their jewels and their tastes for luxury and decadence, making an impression everywhere they landed, from Paris to London, New York to Shanghai.

Those without funds took odd jobs—composers become music teachers, socialites work as taxi dancers. Princess Natalia Paley, a cousin of Tsar Nicolas, became a fashion model in Paris. A young Yul Brynner played guitar in Russian nightclubs in France. The better-off continued in their old careers, such as film actress Olga Baclanova, who was a hit in Hollywood. The scandalous Tamara de Lempicka painted the famous and wealthy in her "soft cubist" style from her studio in Paris. Vladimir Nabokov caught the last ship out of Sevastopol and Sergei Rachmaninoff fled to Helsinki by open sled—but within a year had been invited to the US where Steinway gave him a piano.

To honour the loss and triumph of these colourful émigrés, we had live music from Russian folk/jazz/klezmer band Atomek Soviet Swing—in what was only their second ever performance in the UK. Our host was the Commissar of Cabaret himself, Champagne Charlie, while spinning vintage vinyl was the Baboushka of Beats, Auntie Maureen. Fuelling the fun were Russian-themed cocktails courtesy of Stolichnaya premium Russian vodka.
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