Back in 2016, on a freezing February weekend, hundreds of party-goers and music lovers descended on England’s south coast to invade an out of season Butlins at Bognor Regis. Guilty Pleasures, the infamous London club night, had booked the whole seaside venue for a long weekend of ridiculous fun in partnership with alternative East London club night Sink The Pink.
Bognor Regis didn’t know what had hit it, as acts like Hercules And The Love Affair, En Vogue, Sister Sledge and a cornucopia of 90s dance, plus London club hosts Horse Meat Disco, all lodged full-board on site for the weekend, pretending like the rest of world didn’t exist. Mix this together with a huge amount of glitter, a pool party and the cream of the UK’s drag acts and what you got was a weekend that will stay in the memory of everyone who attended for a long time to come. There’s something risky about throwing the edgy and kitsch of 2016 headlong into the tweeness of a dusty off-season Butlins, but the gamble paid off. Over three nights, it was impossible not to have fun, lose yourself and have a bloody good giggle.
The Mighty Hoopla 2016 was something special. But flash forward to over a year later and the same coalition decided to try something different, this time on a much grander scale. On Sunday 4th June, Victoria Park in East London played host to a collection of stages from Sink The Pink, Guilty Pleasures and Absolute Power to name but a few.
Make no mistake, the circus had definitely come to town – and most welcome it was too. All over this day festival there was music, food & drink of every description, fabulous outfits and happy people all with a desire to have fun and be themselves, despite the very recent goings on in London. (The London Bridge terrorist incident has occurred the night before.)
The stars of the entire day were All Saints, who danced like it was 1998 and pleased the crowed with an all-the-hits performance. Disappointingly, Will Young popped onto the stage for about 5 minutes looking like he’d just nipped out for a pint of milk, and left the crowd wondering why he turned up at all. But this was followed by Years & Years who, led by showman Ollie Alexander, brought the Sink The Pink tent to a suitable climax (there was a lot confetti) and drew the biggest applause of the day. At the same time Charlotte Church was, not so quietly, stealing the show in the Guilty Pleasures tent with her free wheeling ‘Pop Dungeon’ troupe, ploughing through covers of the great and the good in pop, and leaving us wanting more with snatches from a couple of her tantalising Welsh hits.
There’s no way to avoid the fact that with the growth, the Mightly Hoopla has lost some of what made it special in the transition to London. But, what it left behind in Butlins doesn’t actually matter – this 2017 festival was a success and I expect we’ll see it become a staple of the London day festival scene. I’d love to see how it could grow in year two – more acts, more glitter, and more fun when London needs it most.
Images: Robert Gershinson @ShootTalkPhotos