Passing five aliens in the foyer, we enter the madness. And it’s straight to Clapton Metropole Room where a makeshift pineapple bar serves pretty unsavoury cocktails to speakeasy sounds. There’s a Tell Tale corner offering animal tails for a tenner and it’s got that fresh, early morning festival vibe, with small groups animatedly chatting to one another as we wait for things to really kick off.
Across the way my mate’s commandeered the candy floss machine and peculiar puppets hang down from the ceiling. Downstairs, having survived the killer corrugated staircase, we head into the Cakewalk Basement where The Dakota Gym Band is charming a horizontal, bean-bagged crowd. The rockabilly blues of the accordion, double bass and croaky, granddaddy vocals are a perfect respite from the mayhem elsewhere. Before long I’m chatting with Rumpus regular Nicholas Immaculate, showing off his patchwork attire and miniature Gaga-esque hat, and his pal Keith, who’s not to be outshone in a plush fluorescent pink blazer and Beetlejuice striped trousers. “Rumpus is the space to be whoever you are,” they tell me. And they’re spot on, barely standing out themselves in this rainbow crowd. It’s a place where fetishes come to the forefront and inhibitions are left at the cloakroom. A laughing gas crowd gather on cushions scattered across the floor, but my fun’s cut short. Oh God, a clown hovers close by. But even clowns have to up their game here, hence the unicorn horn protruding from this one’s head. Way to make a phobia worse. Two of my mates reappear with bouffant hairstyles and heart face tattoos, having been at Hairy Poppins’ Pop Up Hair Salon, which promises to transform “shaggy manes into styled cowlicks” for a small donation. Over in the Main Room safari-capped Professor Elemental introduces masters of ‘GypsStep’, Molotov Jukebox, whose long trumpet intro kicks their set of nicely. It’s an explosive, addictive musical cocktail with brass, violins, guitar, drums, accordion and the awesome vocals of Natalia Tena. How to describe GypsStep? A pinch of dubstep, dollop of flamenco and hints of electro, reggae and soul. Amazing. I’m a convert. In perfect tandem the crowd are bobbing the Hava Nagila and my mate’s suddenly juggling in time to the claps. Not really noticing the transition, we’re dancing to a Latin-infused cover of ‘Seven Nation Army’, and fake maracas become mandatory. The female singer dutifully screams to the crowd, “All these men on stage are single!” and we’re putty in their hands. Crikey, these little coloured balls are breeding! They’re literally all over the floor, but we quickly realise it’s overflow from the ball pit next door. YES. Only at Rumpus can swimming in a sea of multicoloured balls with Rufio, a ringmaster and a grumpy looking jester, seem perfectly normal. However, in this adult-only pit people are getting frisky at the back. There’s Jaws-like movements and someone grabs my leg, culminating in a pretty lethal ball fight. After getting pelted in the head and missing most of my targets it’s time to abort. Next door the mood’s slowed to a schmoozy ‘Let’s get it on’ and the singer shouts, “We expect babies by next year!” Bugger, just tripped over a long rat tail protruding from some man’s ass. As you do. And I’m being sprinkled with Meera’s magical make-a-wish glitter – she’s doing the rounds just in time for the electro swing takeover, which knocks everything up a gear. Having seen him recently at The Book Club’s sound clash, Chris Tofu doesn’t disappoint, reprising his role as Electroswing club guru, while Dr Malaka spices up the genre with his Balkan beats. I defy you not to dance yourself silly to their take on 1920s jazz – such infectious fun! As for the rave heads amongst you, the promise of ‘Twisted Beats and Twisted Acts’ in room two is delivered up by Senseless Records’ Sasquatch and his ‘dubstep/cumbria/kuduro interbass mash down’ and Sarantis’ dubstep grime. Soooo good, but completely knackers me out. We head back to the chill out where an Arabian-sounding clarinet solo hypnotises the crowd. It’s like the score from Aladdin and the floor’s covered with even more napping bodies. There’s bits of artwork dotted about the place, but between sky-high quiffs, random rodent tails and a unicorn clown, nothing really grabs my attention. Weirdly wonderful, this place is like a scaled down version of Secret Garden/Shangri La. Sign me up for the next one!