The 1898 Bal du Rat Mort

RA Lates

Saturday 10 December 2016
7 — 11.45pm

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Part of our

Intrigue: James Ensor by Luc Tuymans

events programme
Go to exhibition page

Experience the underground nightlife of 19th century Montmartre and artist James Ensor’s surrealist world brought to life.

In the late 19th century, James Ensor and 15 other members of the artist group Circle Coecilia ventured to Paris from their home in the blustery seaside town of Ostend, Belgium.

They enjoyed a wild and unforgettable night in Montmartre, stumbling in the early hours upon a hauntingly beautiful venue known as “Le Rat Mort”. The band had already left, so the group danced with some of the remaining ballroom dancers in their frothy can-can gowns to the bewitchingly eerie sounds of a lone pianist. The surreal adventure inspired the young artists to host their own “Bal du Rat Mort” in honour of their infamous Paris night.

At our James Ensor-inspired RA Late, we recreate the faded glamour and macabre decadence of the original Bal du Rat Mort, and bring to life his surreal and haunting works. Come and play with us for one unforgettable Saturday night in seaside Ostend and bohemian Montmartre …

Montmartre, Paris

It’s Saturday night in Paris and the city is buzzing. Ragtime music emanates from underground nightclubs, cafes and theatres – attracting all manner of rogues, glittering showgirls, artists and colourful dandies. The Moulin Rouge is open for business as can-can dancers twirl their frothy skirts to a live orchestra. A few streets away a small group of European artists known as the Circle Coecilia, which included James Ensor, discover a hauntingly beautiful venue known as “Le Rat Mort”…

We invite you to dance the night away at our recreation of Belle Époque Paris, with live band Les Rongeurs performing ragtime, waltz, can-can and bal-musette, as well as dance classes by Lady Greys who’ll teach you the steps you need to know. Lose yourself in wild ballroom dancing before encountering nymphs, ballerinas and fantastical creatures.

Enjoy a Parisian inspired supper-club serving up charcuterie platters and homemade crêpes at our street food stall, as well as a selection of wines, beers and cocktails.

Seaside Ostend

Step inside James Ensor’s world in the blustery seaside town of Ostend, his home for his entire life, and escape into his wild imagination.

Ensor’s curiosity shop
This strange family shop in Ostend sold exotic knick-knacks that often featured in Ensor’s work. Here he lived among towers of masks, colourful feathers, tacky porcelain figurines, enormous shells and surreal objects. Explore a turn-of-the-century curiosity shop as recreated by immersive installation artists Abby Sumrie and Alice Davies.

The bourgeois salon
Experience a lazy evening at Ensor’s home in Ostend, inspired by his interior paintings that depict scenes of everyday domestic life in which tensions simmer beneath the surface. Play parlour games as you lounge in a bourgeois living room, produced by Kate Hargreaves, and Gideon Reeling.

Seaside carnival
Get gold and glittered by Caroline Young and her troupe of make-up artists in preparation for a decadent night of dancing and avant-garde debate, or sit back on a seafront deckchair and watch our selection of Ensor-inspired films.

Ensor’s artist studio
Sketch a still life scene, try on a handmade headdress by Hysteria Machine and have your photo taken to commemorate your stay at Ensor’s place.

Seven deadly sins life drawing
Ensor’s grotesque series depicting monstrous creatures and devils is brought to life at this immersive life drawing salon hosted by Art Macabre. Sketch surrealist scenes portraying Lust, Sloth and Gluttony.

Plus themed cocktail bars, mask-making, taxidermy and more surprises on the night …

Dress code: Surreal Belle Époque. Need inspiration? Head to our Pinterest board.

Early-bird tickets have now sold out. General tickets are still available.

Selected programming in association with the University of the Arts, London.

● Fully booked

● Cancelled

Saturday 10 December 2016

7 — 11.45pm

Burlington House, Royal Academy of Arts.

Early-bird tickets have now sold out. £35 general tickets. Includes exclusive after-hours entry to 'James Ensor' and all Lates experiences, plus a themed cocktail courtesy of Peter Spanton.

Book now