The vibe inside of the Belgium-built spiegeltent
The vibe inside of the Belgium-built spiegeltent
Photo courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Party Like It's 1900: Inside the Spiegeltent at Bayou Bend

This isn’t hyperbole: Holiday Brews on the Bayou isn’t going to be an ordinary beer tasting.

It will take place inside of a spiegeltent, a Belgium-built portable entertainment venue from the late 19th to the early 20th centuries that happens to be a beautiful construction of canvas, mahogany, brass, mirrors and stained glass.

“People hear tent and they think circus tent,” says Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens director Bonnie Campbell. “Most people, once inside, say that they feel like they’re in an old fashioned carousel.”

Party Like It's 1900: Inside the Spiegeltent at Bayou Bend
Photo courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Campbell says the upcoming beer tasting at Bayou Bend is rare appearance of a spiegeltent in Texas. Some reasons why one hasn’t been here more often is the high rental cost and the fact that it takes five days and experts from Los Angeles, New York and Belgium to assemble it.

“It kind of goes together like an erector set,” says Campbell. “They say there are no nails, which is amazing.”

The European “tent of mirrors” were traveling dance halls, bars, entertainment salons and intimate concert halls that hosted famed cabaret artists, burlesque performers and musicians such as German actress and singer Marlene Dietrich.

“There’s a tradition that’s related to drinking and partying,” adds Campbell. “When you’re in the tent, you feel like you’re in old world Europe in the 20th century. It’s charming but elegant, beautiful but hip and cool.”

Spiegeltent during a Christmas Concert in 2015.
Spiegeltent during a Christmas Concert in 2015.
Photo courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Down the line, the spiegeltent will host a holiday market on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday after Thanksgiving. It will also be the site for a morning concert by the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra.

But the public’s first opportunity to post up the mirror tent will take place during Holiday Brews on the Bayou, which will feature 14 craft brewers such as 8th Wonder and Firestone Walker as well as brother and sister combination Aaron and Ashten playing singer-songwriter tunes.

“It’s not like going to a parking lot to drink beer,” says Campbell about the event.

A recent installation shot of the spiegeltent at Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens.
A recent installation shot of the spiegeltent at Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens.
Photo courtesy of Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Holiday Brews on the Bayou is scheduled to take place from 2 to 6 p.m. Saturday, November 19, at Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens, 6003 Memorial Drive. Tickets cost $35. For more information, call 713-639-7300 or go to mfah.org/brews.

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