Hidden away in the intimate, underground Phoenix Arts Club, Onyx Fatale is presenting Lounge Onyx: The Black History Month Cabaret – an evening of cabaret, burlesque and comedy, created and performed by Black artists. What we are about to experience is what our host Sadie Sinner introduces to us as ‘decolonised arts’. We are invited into the world of cabaret and performing arts and, especially during these times, it feels like an utter privilege to be in a theatre space that bursts of such creativity and culture.
The evening is hosted by the glamorous Sadie Sinner (curator of the Cocoa Butter Club) who immediately draws us in with her rich singing and hilarious comedic remarks. She doesn’t forget to remind us of the importance of Black Arts and the fact that ‘we NEED a night to showcase Black performers’. And Lounge Onyx: The Black History Month Cabaret certainly is one to remember.
As a performance space, the Phoenix Arts Club has taken the necessary measures to abide by government guidelines and keep the audience save. Even audience interaction has to be adapted to minimise the risk: we clap instead of whoop, and stomp instead of shout. But, what is missing in voiced appreciation is there in love for the performers.
Organised by Onyx Fatale, the show not only shines a light on her stunning performance but a whole line-up of extraordinary cabaret performers and singers. Among them is Scarlet Shambles, performing a breath-taking a capella act about her inner hurricane. Her powerful voice only accompanied by her own stomping, and a BSL interpreted segment, draws us in as she herself is pulled away by her very own ‘Hurricane Jane’. This outstanding performance leaves us with goosebumps.
As part of the line-up we also witness a mystical, otherworldly dance performance that instantly lures us in; as well as a stunning cabaret piece inspired by Hoodoo and Voodoo – both performed by Jada Love.
Introduced as Sinner’s rival (always messing up each other’s introductions), Rhys’ Pieces is another noteworthy act of the night. Their set covers ‘queer rage, queer love’ and an unexpected rap about Coronavirus. If it wasn’t for Coronavirus, their show would have the audience up on their feet enthralled by the earnestness in their spoken word poetry and the energy in their delivery of queer black pride.
Halfway through the evening, proudly embracing her Nigerian roots, Shady Daze’s piece in celebration of Oya – the Nigerian goddess of rebirth – leaves us wanting for nothing. It is so rich with culture, beauty, and artistic expression that Sinner’s words echo in my head: ‘decolonise the arts’. But Daze’s tribute to Oya is not the only culturally important message passed on tonight. At the end of the show, Sinner takes the time to raise awareness of the protests to end Sars and police brutality in Nigeria to conclude a powerful evening celebrating Black culture.
Lounge Onyx: The Black History Month Cabaret is a collection of culture, glam, pride and power. This show bristles with strength, confidence and self-love, and is important now more than ever.
Lounge Onyx: The Black History Month Cabaret is playing at the Phoenix Arts Club on 26 October 2020. For more information and tickets visit Phoenix Arts Club’s website.