Thursday, 30 December 2004

Different Stage, Same Animal.

It is that time of the year again. Christmas! It's cold outside, the shops are full and you have to write those bloody cards! As you might have guessed, I am not exactly a fan a crimbo...

Although it is passed as the season of good will, I usually end up feeling lonely at that time of the year; I also fail to see why there should be a particular season for good will to blossom. Christmas has now turn into the commercial celebration of tackiness and “fakeness”, Christmas decorations are like a mask people use to hide the daily, mundane grime of their lives. They expect that a little (sometimes, they need a lot of it!) tinsel and light will transform everything and make the world and other people nice. Breaking news: IT WON'T!!!

Another problem I have with Christmas is that it is a religious celebration. I am not religious: I was dipped in holy water when a kid and kept on wading there for quite a few years but I have finally seen the light (or stopped seeing it?!) and have decided spirituality was not for me really. While I recognise my Christian (catholic) heritage and the profound mark it has made on me (Jesus’ message, taken as a life philosophy (NOT a religion), is quite pertinent, I think), religion makes me cringe and I religiously avoid it with all its proselytes (especially the proselytes!!!). So, given that Christmas is (should be, anyway), first and foremost, a Christian celebration, why should I celebrate it? I should say: “be forced to celebrate it” since there is hardly any way you can escape in this country… Even my favourite Chinese restaurant is closing!!!

It has been all the more difficult for me to avoid it this year, as I have been part of the celebrating. Now everybody complains that Christmas start earlier each year: for me it started all the way back in September and is likely to last till the beginning of March. Lucky me!
As I might have mentioned earlier, I am a member of a choir: the London Gay Men’s Chorus. After our big summer concert and the tour in North America (in which I did not take part), the big thing for us was a Christmas concert at the Barbican, one the big concert venues in London. We had been approached by Raymond Gubbay (the biggest show producer in the country) to put on a show for his Christmas concerts series. Something very exciting for the choir, since this is was the first time that we did not have to produce the show ourselves: We only had to put the thing together, rehearse, turn up on the day and weave our magic (try to, anyway!). This is why we found ourselves on a darkening Monday late afternoon at our usual rehearsal place, singing Christmas carols. In September!!! We haven't stopped since. And we will be keeping up the madness till The beginning of March as I said. We are going in studio to record this repertoire and produce a CD for next year. Our fifth CD.

The concert took place on Saturday the 18th. We had had a whole page in the Independent and a few mentions in the Times and on the radio. Gubbay had put on a national ad compain in the main stream and gay press. About a week before the show, we sold out. All 2204 seats. Despite a huge amount of pressure, the show went really well. The first part was more serious with Traditional Carols and poems read by our MC, Simon Callow but for the second part, we let rip in the way we know so well how to do. We had "choralography", panto, camp and cheese and a small group of dancers of which I was part. All good fun and this was followed by the usual high/buzz you get when performing in front of a receptive audience. Shame I hurt my back dancing (my muscles had cooled down) and had to walk like a gran all week after that!

Last week, we gave ourselves to a different type of audience. We had been hired by Selfridges, mecca of gay shopping, I am told, to sing Christmas Carrols in the store on Oxford Street. That's twenty gigs (twenty minutes each, four times a day). I did twelve of them. That was also quite fun: we made friends with the security guards who escorted us around the shop (one of them might want to join the chorus, considering how friendly he was...) and apparently Victoria "posh" Beckham watched us sing (hopefully she was taking notes!).

Now we are having a short break and on the 10th we are off again to keep the repertoire alive and fresh. Recording scheduled for the end of February, beginning of March. Can't wait!!!

Happy New Year to whoever is reading this and thanks for taking the trouble.

Keep the Yuletide Gay!

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