Walking through the door of No 5 hair salon, you'd have felt you were transported to a fairy realm. Lights twinkled out from the vines of leaves spread across the room, paying homage to the theme of the evening 'Nature'. Our gorgeous hosts had draped themselves in those selfsame vines, giving the impression of fake creatures welcoming us into their hall. And what a welcome. The hustle and bustle of the salon as performers tuned up, sound checked and, in one case, got their hair neatened up after the downpour outside (might as well make the most of the services right? How often do you get to perform in a hair salon?).
The backdrop noise to the life of a performer. Before long, the audience began to arrive and we were able to start in earnest.
Ligia, the wonderful MC and organiser of La Mansarda, started us off by introducing the night, explaining how La Mansarda is run and the charity they would be raising money for this year.
Then on to the acts. First up, Savage by name and savage by nature, Dylan Savage brought on a roller coaster of emotion. His rapping had us dancing, laughing and crying as he explored everything from themes of deep personal growth and hardship to painfully relatable descriptions of the Day After and night out. Not one to hog the spotlight, Dylan split his time between himself and his collaborators, Annie Peters, Michele O'Sullican and Troy Cullen, each one bringing their own unique voice to the mix.
Not an easy act for me to follow if I'm honest, but then, none of the acts would have been. I did my best though. Performing poetry in Irish and English, weaving the two languages together where I could. This, to me, was one of the ways I tried to incorporate the theme of Nature into my work. Using the tongue which comes most naturally to me and playing it off that which would have been natural had history turned out a little different. I focused on my more parochial poems, allowing the idea of the oceans tide, river walks and the climate emergency to carry a narrative through my work. And I could not allow an evening of nature to pass without showcasing my love of butterflies by performing a face painting demonstration on stage.
Next up, Tobi Balogun wowed the crowd with his rhythmic words. A dancer by trade, he transposed the melody of his feet into his lyrics. Acapella, his writing hit beats like drums, drawing in the audience until we were hanging on his every word. Accompanied by soundscapy goodness, his poetry created a trance like state in each observer as we felt the highs and lows he described to us. Tobi style of poetry was exciting, an intoxicating mix of heavy rhythms and hard hitting observations about daily life. He left us wanting more, wanting to explore deeper into the world he was describing to us.
Finally, Ruah finished off the evening for us. Audrey and Endas highly individual style of vocals paired with gorgeous guitar once again put me in mind of a fae court, enchanting each audience member, ensnaring us in the trap of the Sídh. Few of us could help but tap a foot, nod a head or get up and dance as their music took hold. Audrey's voice was clear and strong, telling tales of magic, wonder, and a different type of living. The combination of voice and strings mingled perfectly to transport onto a world slightly beyond our own.
For one night only the door of No 5 didn't just open up into a hair salon. Somehow, that evening, it became a portal. Stepping through meant stepping into a different reality, something somewhat other from the world we are used to. Each act that evening enchanted us, pulled us into the world inside their heads, showing us this reality through their own eyes. I think maybe we all fell for the fae trap. And while they did return us, I don't think anyone present left the event tye exactly same as they entered.
Síofra Ní Mháirtín
Video made by Henrique Sezara
About the author:
Síofra Ní Mháirtín is a spoken word artist hailing from the wilds of West Cork. An avid writer and performer from a young age, she really found her voice as after learning about all sorts of different 'isms' in college and why she should be mad about them. Her work explores both inter and intrapersonal themes, focusing on connection, emotion and her general disdain of the patriarchy.
This collection of blog posts is a firsthand account from artists who are an integral part of the La Mansarda community. Whether they took the stage or enjoyed the show from the audience, each post offers a unique perspective on our vibrant community.