The singing and dancing ladies of Bobby & The Pins have been thrust from their comfort zone into the bush, but they’re determined to keep camping classy.
Melbourne’s female cabaret quartet, Bobby & The Pins, are creatures of comfort who take inspiration from the 1950s and the era’s stereotypical ‘lady of leisure’. Their forthcoming show Glamping with Bobby & The Pins throws them into the unknown territory of camping. Unperturbed, they decide to transform camping into glamping – glamorous camping – complete with evening wear, hot rollers and crystal champagne glasses. Their triumph is short lived though: the elements always seem to be one step ahead of the Pins and their plans for a relaxing outdoor holiday. Being a glamping novice, I caught up with Bullet Bobby to find out how it’s done.
‘Generally we only do it when it’s summertime, just because we don’t like the cold. We go anywhere that’s not set up as a normal camping ground because you don’t always want to go where everyone else is. It’s a self-indulgent experience,’ she informs me.
The idea of glamping suited the ladies of this barbershop quartet cum cabaret outfit perfectly. Their love of preening, socialising and adventure rolled into one activity felt so right that they believe glamping must have originated in the 1950s, just as their characters have. In fact, glamping goes back to colonial times when Europeans would often set off for their destinations with a whole kit of luxuries from home, including lace tablecloths. More recently, glamping has had a revival among twenty and thirty-somethings wanting the relief of wide open spaces, complemented by an all-round enjoyable experience including a single origin to start the day. A show about glamping seemed timely.
This fusion of the contemporary with the historic is a large part of Bobby & The Pins’ outlook. They recognise the social norms of the 1950s have long fallen by the wayside, but they see a place for the era’s aesthetics today.
‘One of the things I noticed was really prevalent was the idea of embracing all different body types. I think that’s been re-appropriated in a way,’ Bullet Bobby says, referring specifically to the pin-ups of the early twentieth century.
The four Bobbies – Dazzler, Blue, Rae and Bullet – aren’t afraid of challenging stereotypes. In fact, Bullet Bobby describes them as ‘anti-housewives’: women who are more interested in their own pursuits than house, home and husband. But she is quick to point out that they’re not averse to romantic flings with men or women, a further challenge to the rigid gender roles of sixty years ago.
While it might seem unlikely that young and open-minded women have created personas and a musical group so steeped in history, it’s obvious that their enthusiasm for the music and aesthetics of the past is what drives them. With backgrounds in choir, theatre, musical direction and dance, the members of Bobby & The Pins all equally inform the identity and creative process of the group.
The result is a melting pot of ideas and energy, which is evident in Glamping with Bobby & The Pins, their first solo theatre piece to date. The script was written collaboratively and Bobby Dazzler adapted music from the 1940s and 1950s to suit the glamping theme. For those who are also barbershop quartet enthusiasts, you’ll probably recognise a lot of the songs. Bullet Bobby describes the show as a night of adult family fun, with a few rude jokes rounded out by some mean harmonising on the musical side of things. While the weather might be a little daunting for glamping or camping, it’s always the season for cabaret.
This article was originally published by Lip magazine on 1 July 2014