The Lock In (5 stars)

The Demon Barbers' hip hop and folk fusion raises the roof

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This article is from 2013.

The Lock In

Oh to be locked up in a pub with this lot. Some shows demonstrate great skill and technique, some offer strong musicianship, and some create the kind of atmosphere and energy that leaves you high on life. The Lock In does all three.

Going out on a limb, you might wager that for the majority of audience members, it’s their first introduction to a dance style they’d hitherto filed under ‘weird, uncool and stuck in the past’. Well, it turns out that English folk dance is none of those things. In fact, it’s just the opposite, as this intoxicating production confirms.

The brainchild of Damien Barber, founder of award-winning folk band, the Demon Barbers, The Lock In takes place in an English pub after hours. Looking for some late-night fun, three hip hop dancers arrive and show off their wares. Slick, synchronised, exciting and backed by a live beatboxer, they think they’ve got it all – especially compared to the three clog-dancing women, and morris-dancing men who arrive soon after.

But they’re wrong. We all are. Performed with an almost combative strength, incredible skill, speed and intricacy, morris dancing is every bit as entertaining as hip hop – sometimes more so, especially when the knives and pool cues come out.

Dance technique and talent aside – and there’s a lot of it on display here – The Lock In wins you over on two other levels. Firstly, the superb Demon Barbers, whose modern folk manages to be the perfect accompaniment to both hip hop and folk dance (their bearded drummer also makes a very fine ‘landlady’). Secondly, the sense of inclusion. We may not be able to join in with the fast-paced choreography, but the entire audience is made to feel like its sitting in the pub with them.

Zoo Southside, 662 6892, until 16 Aug, 7.10pm, £12 (£10).

This article is from 2013.

The Lock In

  • 5 stars

A clash of dance cultures set in an old English pub with live music by BBC Radio 2 award-winning folk powerhouse The Demon Barbers. ‘A full-on show of such blazing energy and joyous ingenuity you scarcely ponder on the apparent madness of trying to marry folk dance and hip hop’ ★★★★ (Telegraph). ‘The Lock In is…


1. Pond28 Aug 2013, 12:14am Report

This was the only show I managed to see at this year's Fringe but I wouldn't have missed it for the world. I know a few members of the Demon Barbers through the Rapper Dance scene and saw their previous show, "Time Gentlemen Please" on their previous visit to Scotland. That show was great, this new one surpassed it!

Zoo Southside was the perfect venue for "The Lock In", smallish and intimate, but with a great performance area. I could have watched the guys and girls dancing for hours, the performance left me smiling all the way home. Can't wait for the next show!

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