Magic is set to happen in the hall of mirrors
IT’S called a tent but anyone thinking of nylon and zips is woefully wrong.
A Spiegeltent is a rare Belgian structure from the world of early twentieth century cabaret and there are very few left anywhere.
Built of wood, mirrors, canvas, leaded glass and detailed in velvet and brocade, each has its own personality and style.
There are only around 35 originals still in existence and one of those select few is now pride of place in Port Douglas, near the Sugar Wharf.
The Spiegeltent, in Dixie Park down near St Mary’s by the Sea, is a genuine 1930s Belgian work of art that is a classic example of the lavish, largerthan-life party venues of the Roaring Twenties.
Spiegeltents blossomed in a rarefied era of peace in the early 1900s.
Ironically they were a product of growing affluence after the first world war but WWII was ultimately their undoing as many were destroyed in war torn Europe.
However, recently Spiegeltents have made a comeback.
With the 21st century nostalgically turning its eyes back to the eras of art nouveau, art deco, the Jazz Age and vintage fashions, all the forms of entertainment that come with these eras such as cabaret, burlesque and vaudeville have been revived.
Melissa Head and her partner Colin Davis, who run Knockout Events and are responsible for this year’s Carnivale, bought the Spiegeltent in Germany.
“We travelled over to Germany to see it on site at a festival and then two weeks later we shipped it back to Austra- lia,” said Mr Davis. “There are five Spiegeltents based in Australia and of those five only three tour around the country.
“This is an original so a lot of the panels are still original.
“The term Spiegeltent translates to mirror tent, obviously because of all the mirrors and the stained glass and ornate fittings.
“Essentially they’re a touring European dance hall.
“It’s painstaking to put up and there’s a whole process.”
The Spiegeltent will be opened to the public tonight for the Cabaret LIMBO show that features hand balancers, sword swallowers and hooping sensations.
It’s a delectable mix of circus skills and lavish decor to transport one back in time.
The two complement each other and it’s a show that was literally made to be seen inside the Spiegeltent.
“This show was actually made for the tent,” said Limbo performer Danik Abishev.
“It’s very unexpected and it will be different and probably something they haven’t seen before, mixed with the live music so it will be great. ”
Eamon McNelis, Danik Abishev, and Mick Stuart of the Limbo cabaret cast at the Spiegeltent in Port Douglas for Carnivale. Limbo opens tonight.
Underneath the canopy