There was a place to be this past Saturday night, and unless you were at Adelaide Festival Centre’s Banquet Room for the Cabaret Festival, it’s sad to say, but you weren’t there.

There is some hope though; it is only necessary to find out when and where Tuba Skinny is playing, and you can be assured that you’ll be at the right place in time and space next time. Having said that, it is a shame (but oh-so-cool) that they hail from New Orleans, meaning it may well be a while before they come back to the City of Churches.

Under the name Tuba Skinny, the band has been playing since 2009 and have already released three albums. No rest for the wicked – wickedly talented that is. They perfectly capture, one can only assume, the atmosphere of the ‘20s and ‘30s and all the dirty, beautiful, raggedy jazz and blues that went on during those times.

Now imagine for a minute that you have stepped back in time: a time where Billie sang the Blues and the washboard was an instrument and not just some archaic, ah, washing device. Imagine that the lights are as low as they should be and braces are making sure that men’s trousers are not.

Now you’re starting to get it.

When the six band members ascended the stage, it was to resounding applause – it was clear the audience knew they were in for something special. As etiquette demands, for this was a night where etiquette held sway, the dance floor remained empty for the first song. After all, the first song is for the band … the rest are for the dancers. And no sooner had the first few notes of the second tune started than the swing dancers were out cuttin’ a rug.

There is no true joy without spontaneity, and that’s what the dancers brought to the night. It was clear the band was absorbing energy from all that joyous movement right in front of them. There was something perfectly wonderful about the way that this gig allowed people to really show their joy and excitement in the music – surely the band can’t have felt like they were performing, rather, they were sharing, or exchanging even. As for the general audience, well, they were provided with a visual feast to indulge in alongside the intoxicating aural brew provided by the band.

–       Serrin Prior