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Mighty Hoopla 2021 (NSFW)

Mighty Hoopla 2021 (NSFW)

cw: assault, illness, nudity

Hi!

So, last Saturday, I went to my third Mighty Hoopla! It’s been almost a week since this wonderful festival, which would’ve been upgraded to “absolutely glorious” had I worn a comfier pair of shoes. I felt so glad to be back, and even being a bit of a daredevil in the process.

But the thing is, my daredevil behaviour extended beyond going on an inoffensive funfair ride. I, and practically everyone else attending, decided to play Russian Roulette with their health by wearing a mask infrequently, if at all. Unfortunately, that seemed to bite me in the bum, as I’m more stuffed up than an entire Build-a-Bear workshop. I’m currently on a meal plan of Lemsip and curries. (Fortunately, the PCR test has come back negative, but I’m still going to self-isolate as a precaution.)

Joy Less, a drag performer with short red hair, a black blazer, red shorts and yellow sash that says "Mx Margate"
Joy Less
Klarna jester
Ruby Porcelaine

The day before Hoopla was the annual wrap-up at work. I wasn’t working that day, but I decided to go to the afterparty near the studio to network. It was fun. I became an infodumping hot mess, as usual. But I said that I was going to Hoopla, that my time was going to be cut shorter than usual because of it that day, and that I was anti-Cheryl and considered Gabrielle my headliner. Come the day of, things had changed – it was announced that Mabel was performing with Sink the Pink, and I couldn’t pass up the chance! (Except, I did.)

Because it was a bit cloudy that day, I decided to do a crop-top, hoodie and leggings combo, as well as this Minnie Mouse bag from Primark that was perfect for the bag check. It actually got a ton of compliments, despite the fit being from Shein, everything5pounds and Next respectively. Ah, being plus-sized…

Unfortunately, said Minnie Mouse bag apparently had some of my Mum’s old cigarettes in, as the drug dog ended up sniffing me. Originally thinking that it was because I had camera batteries on me, I declared that I don’t smoke and that they can be confiscated. I don’t think they actually got confiscated though. And my camera got through completely unscathed!

Izzy Alright
Chiyo
Soroya Marchelle

Queefy

Within five minutes of ending up on site, I bumped into Rhys’s Pieces. They loved my new hairdo, and I said that I didn’t need Camile Leon to do it anymore. Turns out, Camile was actually performing for Queefy, and I had some time to kill, so I decided to watch it.

Throughout the show, Rhys did a few of their original raps, mostly about Blackness and queerness and the intersections that lie therein. Think there was one about the pandemic too – they pretty much encouraged everyone to “break the rules” and just have a great time. Obviously, it backfired in my case.

Hans Off, whose drag king gimmick is that he’s a Berlin techno gay who likes to go to the Berghain and keep things “minimal”,  was just wonderful. The way he moves is just absolutely mesmerising. Plus, I loved the juxtaposition of his drag and the picture on his phone case (extremely girly, in tea dress, with parents, showing the duality of drag king).

Izzy Alright has glown up massively since I last saw them at Lipsync1000 way back when. They did a lipsync to Kylie’s “In My Arms” with a squirty cream vaccine syringe. They didn’t recognise me from the Lipsync days but, to be fair, I had to refresh my memory a bit after spending over a year out of queer Fantasia.

Chiyo pouring water onto Hans Off’s head
Camile Leon
Rhys’s Pieces

Camile… I hadn’t seen her in ages! I wish I could properly meet her again once I’m healthy again, but last I’ve heard she’s really busy. Of course, she gave me a *massive* hug and everything just went right again. So sayeth the song she performed to: “When you touch me, I die/Just a little inside/I wonder if this could be love”. (Platonically, of course.)

Soroya Marchelle made for a surprisingly accurate J-Lo. Right down to the miming of someone else’s vocals :P. But the “Get Right” cane choreography will never get old.

Chiyo was really happy to see me, not just in the moment but back in the space again. He did the same “My Name Is Prinx” routine I saw him do at the National Theatre two years ago. Refreshing to see that again, especially now that he’s post top-surgery.

Can-can’t
Izzy Alright and the squirty vaccine

Katiestrophe

Once Queefy’s gases were flat, I went on the Sky Swing – something that I haven’t been on since 2012. Being alone and bigger on the ride is quite terrifying, I must admit. It’s really bloody tall. Thank fuck I did it though. I need bravery. (Also some of the other ride-goers were singing “Breaking Free” from High School Musical at the top of their lungs and it was the greatest rendition of the song ever heard.)

I also went to the queer protest sign-making station for a bit and saw Jacqui Potato and BONK!, who was a Lipsync1000 finalist under a different name back in 2019. I also met a really nice drag queen called Pamela Handmeyourson, who’s evidently a Pamela Anderson impersonator. She looked a bit more like Donna D’Errico though.

Jacqui Potato
The Diety and Janet District Council (Janet I thought you were Ma Butcher this is how long I’ve been away)

 

Pamela Handmeyourson
Sky Swing

One bubblegum sundae and Coke later, it was off to the not-not-the-Clapham-Grand tent to catch up on the last half of the Basement Orchestra’s Disney cover-a-thon. I would have loved to have seen it all, because all I got was Under the Sea, a Jungle Book medley and the Pirates of the Caribbean theme, which of course made me think of Dongcopter Pirate. (Dongcopter Pirate for Hoopla 2022!)

Afterwards, a crowd slowly began to form, all singing the words to “Man! I Feel Like A Woman”. We were all gearing up to witness Queen of Huns, Katie Price, in conversation and possible song. We were all about to go on holiday to the sunny beaches of Jordan. That was until, disaster struck.

Yup, Katie cancelled. Her horse had died. The press said the horse was “dying”, but the MC said that the horse full-on died. As you can hear, we were livid. So, instead, they bought out a few fitness instructors to cardio-dance to a few 90s pop and dance hits. In terms of choice, you had your “C’est La Vie”s and your “5, 6, 7, 8″s, but you also had a surprise appearance by Adam Rickitt’s “I Breathe Again”. Barely anyone actually took their instructions seriously, and one of the dancers had, um, a bit of a boob right as the key change in “Reach” happened, but it was still extremely entertaining, if for the selection of tunes. Oh, if I was into fitness classes.
Basement Orchestra
Move Your Frame

The Grand Eurovision Party

Then came what I was in the tent for – the Eurovision party. Not only do I want to see some RuPaul’s Drag Race stars at the very apex of their fame, despite being quite dismissal about the show (i.e. I’m a #SupportYourLocalDrag baby), but I’m also a massive Eurovision buff, and have been for over half my life. (Again, except the year I skipped because it was in occupied Palestine, but I caught up with that when everything had firmly moved to Rotterdam.)

First up was some drag queen whose name I don’t know who did a pretty decent lipsync to “Ooh, Aah, Just A Little Bit” with the Grand’s Dream Team (in-house dance crew). It was alright, but nothing special, and the Frame fitness instructors had already danced to that song about fifteen minutes earlier. (Yes, they acknowledged it.)

The Lipsinkers, one of whom is Rhys’s Pieces, did two songs that night – Making Your Mind Up (with skirt reveal critiquing The Fizz’s tendency to toff-as-adjective) and Waterloo (with some weird anti-Boris sentiment that was a bit too surrealist to grasp outside of “Boris bad”).

Cleo Pantha did a Dancing Lasha Tumbai burlesque lipsync, and obviously I’m a sucker for burlesque so I ate it up.

Lady Lloyd pretty much was Loreen. You really should’ve heard the screams of the crowd when they teased Euphoria.

Chiyo did the same performance as Queefy, but instead, it was Netta’s “Toy”, and the lipsync was more explicitly about being trans, rather than just having his transness be a part of why he’s different in general.

The Lipsinkers as Buck’s Fizz
Cleo Pantha
Lady Lloyd as Loreen
Tia Kofi and Victoria Scone

Elektra Fence

 

The Gregorian Sisters

I was mesmerised by the Gregorian Sisters, three TikTok dancers who became Da∂i og Gagnamagi∂ a la The Powerpuff Girls. With TikTok dancing being seen as straight culture at best, cultural appropriation at worst, they were so out of place, you couldn’t help but love them. Speaking of cultural appropriation, one of them had a fashion bindi. Despite an entire video being made to curb it, that was literally all the effort that was made. I saw two White people in du-rags, and one of them was actually working there. (LIke, I can see the use of a silk shower cap because my hair is so damaged, but a DU-RAG?)

Of course, the marquee names were Elektra Fence, doing a high-energy “Fuego” by Eleni Fourera, and a live-sung duet of “Double Trouble” from the Eurovision movie, as done by Victoria Scone and Tia Kofi. I met Victoria and Tia after the show and I’m chuffed that both had the grace to have photos taken of them (and a selfie in Victoria’s case!).

Playing us out was the Push the Button DJs, causing me to scream “I’LL DO ANYTHING FOR YOU, ROB HOLLEY” or something along those lines.

Victoria Scone
Tia Kofi

Foot pain 😢

By this point, my feet were aching so much. I had to sit down a lot – yes, in a crowd of hundreds – and a lot of people were concerned about me. I mean, deeply. I told them that I was totally fine, and all that’s wrong is the fact that I should have worn a comfier pair of shoes. My current trainers are broken and I was wearing a pair of ballet pumps that served me well during bowling back in July.

This caused my time at Massaoke to be cut short. I may have revelled in shouting “You Give Love A Bad Name” at the top of my lungs, but those footsies were crying (and I had already seen/done Massaoke at my first Hoopla). So I had to cope with watching the George Michael Disco from somewhat afar.

“As” was a weird song to play at Hoopla, despite it featuring Mary J Blige and the fact that we’d hear similar 90s easy listening during Gabrielle’s set later. Also, I feel like the only queer person who can’t fully eat up “Freedom 90”, which is shit. “Fastlove” will never get old though.

Mahatma Khandi and friend
Massaoke

 

George Michael Disco (o hi Carmen Getit!)
TeTe Bang

U OK Hun?

Going to the U OK Hun? party was a non-negotiable for me, ever since I saw the fallout from 2019’s edition (I got free tickets to that one, but had an attack and didn’t go in the end. Boo, I didn’t get to see Tove Lo…) and felt absolutely jealous.

Izzy Alright came back, Shak Fire joined and so did Bolly Illusion. Danny Ash was there and I didn’t recognise him; same with Vivian Bam Bam, and they were all surrounded by a whole load of Huns that were barely familiar, if not unfamiliar to me. Bolly did a bhangra version of “Me Against The Music” which was GORGEOUS; Shak did a rap song (“Drip” by Stefflon Don and Ms Banks) and killed it as expected.

You can listen to the setlist here. Yes, you’ll be listening to two Livin’ Joy tracks in a row and it’ll feel like sacrilege, and Tori Amos’ “Professional Widow” stops at the best bit, where it goes all acapella-ish before the drumbeats kick in again. (It does however, turn into Celine Dion’s cover of “I Drove All Night”, which is the song that gave us this live performance that gave us this GIF, which definitely sums up how I was seeing Gabrielle later on that day.)

My feet still hurt, so I watched a fair bit of it from a log, queening out over Gabs to other Gabbers on the log.

Bolly-Illusion

 

The Mad Chattaa and Vivian Bam Bam
Shak Fire
Alice Cockayne
Joseph Keeley

 

PMBC carrying Lucinda B Hind
Belle Nichols

Queer House Party

This is probably an unpopular opinion here in Queer London, but Queer House Party have seemed to have the most counterproductive glow-up of all time. They might have been hailed as the saviour of British queer lockdowns, but both times I went really seemed to almost entirely consist of people who say “heckin”, save for a. Travis Alabanza and b. the organisers themselves. As one of my Lex dates said, “it wasn’t lit enough”.

Now that a vaccine is widely available, things have changed. Seeing the pictures from their South London big-upping club night with U OK Hun?, the partygoers seem to be a more diverse blend. (Hopefully it’s not cherry-picking.) You can still go to their parties on Zoom, for both accessibility (which I heavily commend them on) and anti-oxymoronical purposes, but it just feels like they’ve grown outwards and upwards.

This is, in part, due to them hiring some of Queer London’s biggest scenesters to perform, even as just go-go dancers. During QHP’s “un-lit” era, they’d only get two cabaret acts a turn, who’d only show up just to perform, and make the only other highlight of those parties the giant Susan Boyle cut-out. Their usual go-go dancers, who showed up that day, were Cybertease – a  collective of nine unionised sex workers who organised virtual strip nights during lockdown. Five of them showed up to shake their bum.

I didn’t see them for long, but they provided the perfect preparation before I entered the Land of Gabs. I mean, what a juxtaposition – queer anti-fascist techno strippers to demure, easy-listening 90s soul queendom. It pretty much sums up my approach to life.

And I don’t think I even heard a single play of Voulez-Vous.

Taali Not Charlie MCing
Averi from Cybertease
April Fiasco from Cybertease
Luna Bug from Cybertease
You only Liv once…

Gabrielle

Fifth Harmony’s “Worth It” was the perfect song to gear us up for our trip to the Land of Gabs, where it’s OK to act like a clown, because she is a Harlequin (i.e. a clown but ~ mysterious ~ and ~ romantic ~). Having sore feet and being surrounded by the most inebriated people you’ll ever meet is Worth It, hun.

Of course, you know how much I prefer Des’ree when it comes to Brit soul singers (DES FOR HOOPLA 2022 BECAUSE BROCKWELL PARK IS LESS THAN HALF AN HOUR’S WALK AWAY FROM HER HOUSE), but let’s be honest – we shouldn’t compare our legends to each other. I was firmly Team Harlequin during the last series of Masked Singer UK, even though she was still far from winner material (which Joss Stone totally was). (BTW, did you know I have a Masked Singer fanblog?)

Anyway – of course Gabs delivered! I didn’t though. I think she called me out. If you heard someone scream, “SING SWEET BUT PSYCHO!”, it was me. At one point, she was talking about her coat, and went “You don’t want to see me take that off.” So I went into full Masked: “TAKE IT OFF! TAKE IT OFF!” It was genuinely halfway through her set when I found a sense of self-awareness.

Gabrielle
Gabs’ band

But, singing “Sunshine” with the crowd was a massive highlight. It’s not even my favourite song of hers, but there was clearly something electric in the air when it happened. It was like we had all given birth to a collective baby Jordan. “Thank You”, “Teardrops” and “Out of Reach” were fun songs to sing as well.

I wonder if it’s one of the youngest crowds she’s had this side of Masked. I guess, for most of her current performances, her target audience is at least 40+ and bald, but this time round, we were a gaggle of pissed-drunk 20-somethings. She called us out, even though I was sober. Alright, mostly sober – someone pressured me to drink some of their peach-flavoured Southern Comfort whiskey cocktail in a can.

A day or two afterwards, I tried getting the name of the keyboardist off her bassist, Dan Ezard, but he knew as much as me – he is, currently, a man only known as Francis. I wondered if it was Howard Francis, who I know because he’s done keyboards for Des, but it probably isn’t.

Gabs on screen
bonus stagehand pic x

Beyond 😐

My original plan was to stay for Sink the Pink, dive before Cheryl’s performance, have a McDonald’s dinner then spend a couple of hours at the afterparty. But, at that point, my feet got the better of me and I had to go home. (Next paycheck, I’m buying some Sketchers – thank you Mitchell!) I was really looking forward to seeing Mabel as well – I promise, Miss McVeigh, I’ll see you as soon as I can! Let’s be both That Bitch together…

Getting a cab back home was a hassle. I couldn’t recieve wifi, so I had to go to a bar and buy myself a Coke. There, I told my Mum that I was OK, told all my friends about the fun I had, and booked the cab. Unfortunately, I forgot to pay for the drink at first, and the lack of wifi meant that I had to be proper strategic with finding my cab.

Aside from Mabel, I also missed an appearance by Nicola Roberts during Cheryl’s set. I’m kinda fuming, but watching an hour of a toilet-attendant-beater, just in case Queen Bee shows up, just isn’t worth it.

Again, I also got the snuffles. I’m not planning on going out again until my birthday, where I’m off to the Yayoi Kusama exhibition at the Tate, and becoming the world’s most basic 23-year-old.

So, I guess, see you then.

 

Forgot their names, but they are of legend
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