\\ What to know before you visit a jazz club

What the hell do I wear? Is there a password? Why is everybody clapping before the song’s over? There’s nothing like the buzz of anticipation (and anxiety) to proceed your first visit to a jazz club. Going to one for the first time may feel like a daunting concept, but chill; you’ll find audience members as interesting as the artists, an anything goes attitude and of course, music that says “screw you” to limitations.

\\ How to prep for a jazz club visit

Honestly, just rock up. Whether it’s a sit-down vibe or a bit more animated, just because you haven’t headed to a jazz club before doesn’t mean you can’t meander in like a boss. Although there’s nothing wrong with swotting up on the artist’s Facebook page or downloading the album on Spotify first.

Read Eleven acts you need to know in 2017.

\\ Look the part at a jazz club

It’s okay to wear black roll necks, velvet jackets and cravats – with some irony; that outdated jazzism has been long relegated alongside awkward lift music. There’s always going to be shows to bring out the sequins for – really, you should read our alternative review of Sun Ra Arkestra’s recent gig – but most venues won’t insist a dress code on you.

For some clubs, dressing up is actually pretty unheard of – take basement bar Small’s in New York (below) – you’re more likely to see local students busting out a solo in baggy jeans and caps than a slick suit. No need to question your wardrobe decisions – maybe just avoid your 1ft tall Canadian mountie hat a la Pharrell if you intend on bagging a front-row spot.

\\ Look the part at a jazz club

It’s a safe bet to say that most sizeable cities have a club. Although if you’re hoping to source out some live jazz outside of its stereotypical setting, you’ll be relieved to know it’s not confined to dank cellars. You’re just as likely to find your vibe at a sky high cocktail bar (Dizzy’s, NYC), a tiny book shop (Folyes, London) or a concert hall. Mainstream festivals are beginning to program jazz more often, too – you might just have to dig a little deeper through the listings.

\\ Getting friendly at a jazz club

No, not like that. Alongside a lot of new faces, jazz clubs also have a lot of regular ones turning up to shows, too, meaning that they can feel like a community of sorts. Actually, in comparison to rock venues or local bars, jazz people are a pretty welcoming lot. You’ll always notice the music journalists with a glass of wine and a notepad at the bar and the programmers with their arms folded at the back happily glancing their eyes over a packed room. It’s easy to grab a few words with the musicians in the interludes, and the bar staff are usually there because they love the atmosphere. Start conversations; they’ll always go somewhere interesting. Just don’t expect to compliment anyone on their velvet jacket.

Think you have the best advice for someone hitting a jazz club for the first time? Tweet us @jazz_standard

JS | Lorna Cole

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