I blame 1950s America for what I thought jazz clubs are supposed to be like.
Downtown joints tightly packed on 47th street, where the basements were thick with smoke and the arts crowd talk, dance, mingle to the sound of a saxophone's sultry tones and fall under the spell of the music.
That was the jazz era. Fast forward to 2016 and we are in the basement of the Pizza Express Jazz Club restaurant in Dean Street, Soho.
The London venture by Pizza Express blends the popular chain's culinary delights with jazz, allowing people to dine while listening to live music - or at least that's the idea.
We enter the venue. The basement is deathly quiet, except from the clatter of forks, the tinkle of wine glasses.
They've misplaced our booking and we loiter at the mouth of the venue as the lady suggests we “maybe stand at the back?”, before clocking our raised eyebrows and slinking away.
A table in the far corner of the venue is hastily cleared and we squeeze into the seats, me apologising as I clamber over a man on the table adjoined to ours.
The hushed atmosphere is unnerving. Performer Laurence Juber isn't expected yet, but an ominous silence fills the air.
Talking felt wrong, and indeed there were no strange glances from our waiter as we whispered our dough balls and pizza orders. Perhaps this is twenty-first century jazz etiquette.
Our food arrives. The spotlights over the tables have gone. It's dark and we fumble for our cutlery.
“I'm going to stab myself in the hand instead of the dough ball, aren't I?” my companion remarks.
Some tables away (and who can judge how many, none of us can see further than the dishes in front of us), a glass smashes. I suppose the table's diners were saved from the humiliation of prying eyes, although it was likely to be down to their clumsiness and more than the “mood lighting”.
I can dimly make out a couple kissing on another table and wonder if they've picked this place for its easy discretion over the jazz itself. I watch as waiters skirt around tables slowly and precariously, weaving through with plates of food, murmuring awkwardly as they ask whose order is whose.
We give up on the whole eating in the dark fiasco. Laurence Juber comes to the front from a curtain beside my companion and I. He's a talented performer whose radiant LA smile lights the room with its dazzle.
All eyes watch Laurence as he plays. But even his acoustic rhythms can't eradicate the uncomfortable sensation this venue has created from the very moment we walked down the steps.
Its attempt to create a little haven of musical escapism was too shackled. Enough for my companion to fidget for 15 minutes before leaning over and saying, “do you think I'm allowed to get up, I need a wee”.
Supper and jazz sounded like a perfect marriage, but this coupling was littered with blunders, one which could only end in divorce.
The basement is a fitting venue and the food was faultless, but Pizza Express Jazz had not executed the idea well.
Cloaked in darkness, we duck out of the basement and burst into chatter as we resurface. Perhaps the raucous, unfettered freedom of the jazz era is over. But our freedom to find a better jazz club, where the chords don't jar, isn't.
getwestlondon gives Pizza Express Jazz two stars out of five.