The Aeronaut in Acton, west London …

This is like the most f*cked up Butlins ever

Please excuse the profanity above, its not normal that I open a blog post in such a way, but you know how sometimes someone will say something, that is just so accurate that it sticks with you for days after the event at which it was said? … well that is one such line that has stuck with me.

Semi shouted down a microphone by a 6ft stiletto heeled man, clad in tightly fitting black leather and looking like he’d had more than a good time at the boots makeup counter, our compere for the evening Joe Black was obviously joking when he said it, but was also spot on with his assessment of our venue for the evening – The Aeronaut in Acton, west London.  Part pub, but brewery, part circus.  All round good night out!

Aeronaut Circus, Acton

Before the Aeronaut

Technically, the Saturday evening before last wasn’t my first visit to the Aeronaut, or at least the space it occupies. Back track 4 or maybe 5 years and the Redback Tavern as it was then known was a legendary night out in West London.  A spit and sawdust type bar, where flip flops were standard footwear attire, wife beaters (vests) were allowed, and where you dare not wear anything too new fore it would ultimately end up covered in vast quantities of snake-bite.

Raucous crowd would let limbs fly in the name of dance, to awesome cover songs performed by the house band – Acton has a music tech college, so the band was usually made up of the teacher form the college.  In a way it was a little bit like an escape back to the Australia I feel in love with back in 2007, if only for an hour or two.  The accents, dress sense, drinks and music, when combined they bought back incredible highs from my experiences in Sydney, Melbourne, and right up the east coast to Cairns.  Sadly in 2012 disaster struck, and the Redback Tavern lost its licence.  The raucous crowds maybe a little too raucous for the local residents liking.

Upon losing the Redback, my friends and I discussed at length what might and should take its place, and if there was even anything that could take its place.  Losing the Redback was a big deal for us!

Aeronaut – Jan 10th 2015

It had been a long time coming, almost 2 years, but on Saturday Jan 10th I finally got to see and experience what had stepped up to the plate of replacing the Redback, and it was glorious!

We travelled to the venue on the same bus we’d always used to get to Acton previously, and entered the venue via the same familiar entrance way.  In truth, little had changed aesthetically, and I liked that.   The dance floor and stage were still in the same spot, still flanked on either side by long balconies, although the balconies now housed long wooden benches and other assorted seating instead of bars.  It was familiar, but also had enough change about it to make you feel like you were somewhere new and exciting.  Probably the biggest change aesthetically was the addition of a circus tent type decoration across the ceiling, this was a fun addition and made the performances feel that bit more authentic circus.

We entered the venue for 7pm, knowing full well that the performances wouldn’t start till 9pm, but we chatted and drank away (local craft ales) those 2 hours in no time, and the performances were easily worth the wait anyway.

As per the opening paragraph of this blog post, Tom Black our compere was first to appear from behind the stage curtain and underneath the huge illuminated sign that read ‘Dogems’.  He warmed up the now bumper crowd with a belting song and then gave all in attendance the low down on what the night ahead would entail.  Even at this early stage I knew we were in for a treat and that the evenings entertainment would be right up my street.

Silvia Pavone (Hula Hoop)

The first act for the night introduced my Mr Black was Silvia Pavone.  Silvia wowed us all with her incredible ability to hula multiple hoops, all at the same time and with numerous parts of her body.  Pretty damn skilful!

A cracking way to open the show and Silvia deservedly left the stage to huge cheers from the crowd.

Lydia Harper (Aerial)

The second act was introduced by an aerial apparatus appearing from the ceiling.  I’m sure I head someone say that the white material looked like a giant pair of women’s underwear – Bridget Jones’.  Whilst that was a mildly entertaining thought, that description does Lydia’s act a huge dis-justice.  Her performance was phenomenal, as she entwined herself within the dangling material only to then release herself from its grasps and plummet towards the stage floor.  Obviously it was all a part of the act, and Lydia once again caught hold of the equipment only a metre or so before her head met the floor.  Exhilarating to say the least.

Missy Monroe (Fire Eater)

A surprise act as Missy wasn’t listed on the flyer, but much like the open two acts, this was another very talented individual.  Some of the crowd argued what was hotter, the flames Missy was swallowing or her outfit (it was quite skimpy … not that I looked), but either way we were all once again hugely entertained.



With only 3 acts listed on the flyer, I thought that the fire eating concluded the evenings entertainment.  Luckily there was more to come after a short 20 minute break.

So far so good, very very good.  Something new, something different and heaps of fun.

During the break the queue for the bar built up quickly, but our group were happy to simply chat about what we had just seen … and how soon we should come back.

Iona (Contortion)

Did she has a spine?  I’m not entirely sure, and if she has I’m pretty sure it’s made of jelly.  Iona’s act was watched with a combination of winces, sympathy pains and disbelief.  How on earth did she get her back at what looked like right angles, and how could she support he whole body weight by simply biting down on a metal bar … whilst upside down.  Incredible!

Aeronaut contortion


Rayguns Look Real Enough (Comedy Duo)

Last but not least, the headline act.  Headliners with good reason too. It’s hard to know what you’re going to get from a duo which includes one fella with an obvious addiction to hair gel, and another dressed as a lion but with his belly hanging out – more Burger King than Lion King as his partner in comedy pointed out, much to the crowds amusement. This act was impressive both in terms of musical talent and also either ability to be side-splitingly funny.  Not overly circus themes, they were still a welcome addition to the nights line-up. Unlikely songs were cut up and mashed together to form an impressive act.  Those in the front row did get wet, or more accurately they got a bit of action with the belly of the beast lion.

The Aeronaut Afterparty

With the evening acts concluded, it was time to hit the dancefloor.  A DJ looking suspiciously like fellow travel blogger @JustChuckinIt created a fun vibe by playing a mix of disco and jive numbers.  It wasn’t live music like with the Redbacks, but it was again something different, and a lot of fun.  The party area also increased in size, as a curtain separate the circus arena and regular bar was removed.  The one thing I would say was that it got very very hot once everyone started dancing, our group were frequently nipping outside and into the rather nice looking smoking area in an effort to cool down.  I own the other hand saw the heat as the lessor of two evils – no way am I going to stand with all the smokers and inhale that crap.

The Aeronaut party keeps going until around 2am I believe, but we were in the kebab shop across well before that time, and home by maybe 2.30am to curl up on the sofa and drift off into the land of nod (the mrs had a mate staying over, so I gave them the bed). Sunday morning hurt a little, but all in all it was worth it.

Links + Travel

For more info and to buy tickets for the Aeronaut, check out the following links.  FYI – our tickets were £8 per person

Nearest TFL underground station is Acton Town (Piccadilly + District lines) whilst the nearest overground station is Acton Central.