Watch yer booty!

Pirates invade Ye Olde Yellow Cabaret IV

By Gary Spencer

Photo: Drunk & Sailor will perform sea shanties and Irish drinking songs; photo: Erin Cook

The melding of subcultures in contemporary society is hardly a new thing. Some subcultures that may seem incongruous often find themselves as willing bedfellows in the right environment, and that certainly seems to be the case with the upcoming installment of Ye Olde Yellow Cabaret. For the past couple of years, Dayton-based Ye Olde Yellow Cabaret organizers Sir Ernest Octave Suszczynski and his wife Dr. Gintia Peaseblossom have organized this large-scale celebration of steampunk culture and associated subcultures with overwhelming success. But before we go into too much detail about that, what the hell is steampunk?

“Steampunk is a subculture which permeates through many aspects of life: music, fashion, decor, books … even though it originally started as sub-genre of science fiction in the late 1980s,” Suszczynski explains. “It is based on a fictional divergent timeline which starts in the 19th century with many of the best aspects of the time such as style, manners, craftsmanship and design. In practice steampunk is whatever a person wants to make of it. In the basic sense it is a maker movement and grouping of freethinkers. There are groups (typically airships) in cities around the world where people of different backgrounds come together to craft, build, discuss and appreciate each others skills and ideas, plus people dress pretty snazzy.”

Suszczynski and his wife indeed have their own airship group called Airship Passepartout right here in Dayton, and they, along with a few other like-minded freethinkers decided they could and should throw big-city styled celebrations of a steampunk nature here at home both for those already in the know and for those who are curious as to what steampunk culture is all about.

“We felt that a larger scale event would let more people in the area know about steampunk,” Suszczynski says. “Many steampunk groups in other cities put on events which we enjoy taking part in. We felt we should highlight Dayton as well. [There] is a lot of amazing talent that never gets seen [here] and we felt that a show such as this could expose them to a wider audience.”

With this motivation, Suszczynski and Peaseblossom organized the first Ye Olde Yellow Cabaret (YOYC) two years ago – a resounding success.

Each edition has featured a variety of entertainment including bands, dancers, DJs, circus performers, artists, vendors and attendees dressed to the nines. For YOYC 4, the organizers have decided to put a fresh twist on their event by giving it a pirate oriented theme, featuring pirate-centric bands and performers as well as encouraging patrons to dress up in their best pirate garb.

“The theme started when a few bands that I know who are involved in the steampunk scene approached me about playing a Yellow Cabaret,” Suszczynski explains. “Their bands are pirate based so with the bands setting the mood I figured it would be fun to make all of the entertainment be pirate themed. There is a fairly large number of steampunks who also dress as pirates and, well, who doesn’t love dressing up as a pirate?”

One of the featured pirate-themed bands performing at YOYC 4 is Kentucky’s Drunk & Sailor. The duo’s “songs about drinking and sailing” should be a perfect fit for the fun and carefree vibe that Airship Passepartout is aiming for at their upcoming soiree.

“We sing traditional Irish drinking songs, sea shanties and pirate songs,” says Drunk & Sailor guitarist and singer Phillip McGuinness. “Most of the songs we do are songs that were actually sung by sailors on ships, long before there was such a thing as copyright law. We dress up like pirates and have a good time, and we encourage (and sometimes force) audience participation. We’re not here to entertain your party, we’re here to party with you.”

The other featured pirate band is a group simply known as Band of Pirates. This Cincinnati-based band has thrown itself head first into pirate antics, and hopes the YOYC audience enjoys its music and shenanigans as much as its members do.

“We are pirates playing music, which we often steal and corrupt to our own piratical purposes… thus pirates,” says Band of Pirates guitarist and vocalist Rob Dorsey. “There’s every kind of theatrical element to our live show … pirates, ships, gold, booty, the sea, lovely wenches, rum and whenever possible we try to work in cutlasses. We come out on the stage full bore and the live show has an energy to it that is infectious … people really, really enjoy themselves.”

If you’re the type that finds the whole pirate thing a little cheesy, no need to worry. There’ll be plenty of other hot entertainment (and cold beer!) on tap at YOYC 4. Live dance performances by Dayton’s belly dancers Troupe Roja, burlesque by Schatzi Lord and fire dancing from Sunova Starshine and Jimi Black as well. Also on hand will be DJ V-Ral spinning between acts, a performance by the Blue Moon Circus, tarot card readings and a plethora of artisans and vendors peddling wares for your perusal. And as for the future of Ye Olde Yellow Cabaret, Sir Ernest plans to continue to expand upon the variety and themes of entertainment yet stay true to the Airship Passepartout original vision of what this event is all about.

“I hope to be able to bring in more interesting performers from around the country,” says Suszczynski. “I see the basics staying the same, but I don’t want things to become stale so there will always be surprises! My hopes for the event is to bring a larger array of people together to enjoy some amazing entertainers and to make this into an event that people look forward to on a regular basis!”

Ye Olde Yellow Cabaret IV takes place Saturday, March 28 at the Old Yellow Cab Building, 700 E. Fourth Street in downtown Dayton. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door. For more information, please visit

Reach DCP freelance writer Gary Spencer at

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Gary Spencer is a graduate of Miami University and works in the performing arts, and believes that music is the best. Contact him at

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