The viewing party of the season 4 premiere of Game of Thrones at Bambi’s was like a cross between a Williamsburg bar and Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament. The usual influx of skinny jean clad patrons sipping on cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon were unexpectedly greeted with decorative porcelain skulls, flickering candles dripping with wax and metal helmets laying askew on the bar top. A large and hearty medieval inspired feast of whole roasted chicken and lamb, vines of leafy greens, and perfectly ripe fruits were available to munch on, and Bambi’s even prepared a specialty drink named Beau Northman’s Pale Ale for the occasion. The final and perhaps most emblematic element were the sounds of lutes and dulcimers floating through the air, provided by the music styling’s of Gavin Dianda, who was accessorized in an authentic feathered cap and velvet cape.
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Dianda tells me that he was approached by Bambi’s owner, Mikey Apples “We both collect records and he knew I was into medieval music so he approached me to DJ some proper medieval style music for a Game of Thrones 4th season run.” The weekly event dubbed Thrones, brings in throngs of people eager to watch George R. R. Martin’s epic saga unfold on Bambi’s large screen projector. As guests file in and scout for a viewing location Dianda fills the room with early renaissance melodies that accurately, and eerily transform the tavern with a sense of grandeur. Before an episode you can expect to hear authentic secular monophonic medieval melodies reminiscent of troubadours and trouveres, and folk music from the 1960s and early 1970s. In the last few minutes building up to an episode he typically plays a medieval Spanish composition from Cantigas de Santa Maria which features somber deep strings, that are evocative of the Game Of Thrones theme, this cues the attention of the audience as they quickly assemble to their seats in anticipation. If you’re concerned about viewing standards, fret not, there is an unspoken agreement of silence, broken only by an appropriate amount of applause at pivotal moments in the story. After an episode Dianda energizes the room by spinning heavy psychedelic and beat music, that keeps the party going well into the evening.
Dianda, who is formerly of Flashing Lights and currently fronting The Saffron Sect, a band that incorporates sounds from early musical instruments, rarely gets the chance to DJ medieval and early renaissance music for the public. Named after Sir Gawain and the Green Night, a hero of classic medieval alliterative poetry, it’s no wonder that Dianda has a natural inclination towards antiquated music. As a child his parents often played Donovan and John Renbourn LP’s, and although he says he rebelled in his youth by favouring punk and garage rock, he eventually found his way back to his folkish roots. He tells me ”I inherited an entire collection of the Oxford “Early Music” Journal from 1973-1988 from a medievalist music guru which essentially documents the birth of the entire modern early music revival.”
This basement bar is the perfect place for a Medieval themed get together – the shadows of the room are nostalgic of the lair of Castle Black. Dianda agrees “ it’s great, because it’s dark, it’s dank, it’s a candle-lit world , and the unfinished stone walls give it that special dungeon look so favoured by fantasy nerds, music lovers, and Goths alike.” From the instant you make your way down the steps you feel a sense of camaraderie and there are no airs or hierarchy of hipster coolness that are typically found in this part of town on a Friday or Saturday night. Dianda says that if you’re a fan of the series and if you’re looking for a strong drink, good company, good food, and boisterous excitement, mixed in with lots of gasps, oohs and aahs, then this is the event for you to attend.
The feast will be available for the season finale screening, but the viewing party takes place every week that an episode airs this season – Djing starts at 8pm – for more information check out Bambi’s Facebook page