A side-show for all
If The Siren graduates from pop-up show to midsize venue, Sacramento’s alternative arts could finally have a home
The California Automobile Museum does its best impression of a dimly lit, prohibition-era nightclub. People are dressed in snappy suits and colorful dresses. The bartender pours copious drinks for thirsty patrons while the evening’s dancers stroll through the crowd.
On stage, three women do a peculiar routine to No Doubt’s “Spiderwebs.” Two of them take turns singing/lip-syncing and interjecting burlesque dance moves. The third enters in a semi-scary spider outfit. A fight ensues with tossed oranges (an homage to the song’s famous ’90s music video) and silly string retaliation. It manages to be weird, sexy and really creative.
It’s one routine of many that night, on September 29, the premiere pop-up event for The Siren. The imagination was consistent throughout each performance. There are many more Siren pop-ups on the way, including one at The Comedy Spot on November 30, called 3-2-1…Sizzle, where burlesque will inspire improvised comedy.
At the front of the show, Jay Siren, the festivities’ figurehead, came onstage. She explained that the event was about more than just a single night of entertainment that included burlesque, comedy, music and performance art.
“I’m here to share a vision with you of unifying Sacramento’s alternative arts scene,” she told the crowd. “Being here tonight is the only thing that gives this a chance to scale and fly.”
She’s talking about opening an actual venue called The Siren, along with her business partner Jay Sales, that would not only fill a midsized venue void in Sacramento (500-600 capacity), but would focus on art forms that don’t have much of a home in town: burlesque, carnival acts, magic, drag, variety.
Music and comedy will play a role, but Siren’s really concerned with giving a larger space to alternative artists who are struggling to find a consistent audience.
“Sacramento touts the claim of being a world-class city. You look at other great cities as examples. That unique, authentic embraced local arts scene is there,” Siren tells SN&R. “We have pieces of that everywhere, but there hasn’t been that unifying force to bring it all together. The heart of The Siren project lies in the idea that by mobilizing our greater artistic community and encouraging everyone to scale together, we can achieve dazzling, sustainable results.”
Siren has been a part of Sacramento’s art scene since 2008. During that time, she’s led the Sizzling Siren Burlesque Experience, a troupe she created after moving to Sacramento in 2007. That night, many of the dancers from the troupe, as well as from the Darling Clementines and artists from other non-burlesque scenes, came out and did individual and/or collaborative pieces. Burlesque was the primary focus, but overall it was a diverse night of entertainment.
This premiere pop-up served two purposes. It gave folks a sneak peak of what The Siren venue might be like and how it could provide Sacramento a larger, more consistent stage for the alternative artists who are already here, anxiously awaiting the opportunity to perform for people. Siren hopes it will open sometime next year. It also gives people a chance to get involved on the ground level.
Pop-ups will continue in random locations, as well as a regular spot at The Sofia every third Saturday.
“This isn’t New York City, this isn’t even San Francisco. Sacramento is a unique and special place,” Siren says. “One thing that will be a constant in all of the events is an element of direct audience engagement. I think everybody in that room walked away understanding that something is happening. If they come back to the next event, and they talked to a friend about it and bring them to the next show, then we’re winning.”