Going to see The Cocoa Butter Club is an experience in which everyone should partake. Though, I must warn you, you’ll need to be holding onto more than just your hats as it won’t only blow your socks off. The atmosphere was gleeful, fun and supportive. Going alone wasn’t daunting as I was accepted into the home of cabaret and welcomed into a politically charged platform where black and brown bodies aren’t just given an opportunity to express themselves, but are endlessly celebrated. It was a privilege to be taken into a space of such obvious excellence.
Sadie Sinner The Song Bird, our host and deity, founded the Cocoa Butter Club for the evening. The Club provides a much-needed platform for the underrepresented and as Sadie herself states they, quite rightly, have no time for white neutrality. This pushback against an industry that continually lacks diversity showcases the best of the best of multicultural performance. Founded in 2016, The Cocoa Butter Club now sells out venues and travels around London partaking in various festivals. It is obvious how necessary its existence is and always will be.
Sadie herself has an instant connection with the audience, after running late she manages to pull back the show and grab our attention. She is rewarded with laugh after laugh and all is forgiven. As an audience you are made to engage, and I was therefore hyper aware of all aspects of each performance. I was taken away and yet grounded by the beautiful songbird that was Sadie, yet she most definitely isn’t caged. She delights and warms the audience up between each act whilst reminding us why the club is a necessary feature in the current artistic climate. There simply isn’t the opportunity for people of colour in mainstream spaces.
Bae Sharam starts off the act (rebellion) with a beautiful story of their childhood living in a militant Islamic state. They ask everyone to close his or her eyes whilst their silky voice becomes a light in the dark as they detail their experience of continuous restriction. Like the sound of their voice, Sharam’s light in the dark is song. The fun really begins as the music, and they take their clothes off. It is raw, sexy and unapologetic. The power and confidence one must have to expose themselves in such a way is astounding, and yet it isn’t shocking. It is a fun and essential aspect of her performance. The cabaret comes alight as the same shouts that are created for Sadie are evoked for Sharam. Everyone is having a great time.
The cabaret only becomes more political as the night goes on. Jo Tyabji’s mime of recent parliamentary speeches is sophisticatedly funny, not to say amazingly in sync, while Lasana Shabazz hits the nail on the head as he tackles racist tropes and stereotypes face on and with commendable humour. As a white audience member, I found this hard to watch, which only goes to show how important it is that we do all watch. Being exposed to the hard truths of the power racial prejudice has had, and still does have, on culture across the world is a necessary aspect of societal progression. The Cocoa Butter Club is brilliant at broadcasting and fulfilling this requirement. The performers reclaim their narratives of oppression with an ease that demonstrates why they must be given more space in the world. Who wouldn’t want to revel in such unadulterated enlightenment?
The Cocoa Butter Club played The Camden’s People Theatre for one night only. For more information and to see all upcoming events, click here.