Gospel and karaoke = Gospeloke. Every time I mention it, newcomers to the conversation look quizzically at me with a expression somewhere between confusion and disgust. Or maybe it’s intrigue.
My newfound love all happened quite by chance. A friend invited me to “this new night I’m hosting”. Gospeloke.
The truth is, an email worded like that isn’t really a novelty in my inbox. I put it off and tried to concentrate on my work. Quite frankly, it feels like every other week one or other of my friends is hosting some new “wild” night of music, dance and/or entertainment. These days, I can barely muster the energy for a workout, never mind a wild night out. The few times I’ve enthusiastically agreed to attend, I’ve subjected myself to a party of overpriced cocktails, bad lighting and an empty dance floor.
A series of these unfortunate failures led to me declining invites from barely there to even the closest acquaintances. Recently, I’ve been taking part in the UK Wildcats project and other wildcats were making enquiries on a shared Whatsapp group. Was I going?! A chase email came through. Am I going? Are you coming?! Ok, ok, oke! I agreed to go along.
I requested a Plus One. I figured it was best to take moral support. Or perhaps immoral. Maybe a friend who could feign illness, leaving me ‘forced to take her home’ if the situation became really dire (oh, look, I’m giving away all my secrets!).
It was a Thursday night just before my birthday. I didn’t want a late one. Plus One agreed. Early to bed. We grabbed a bite to eat, not wanting to get there exactly on time. Flashbacks of empty dance floors came to mind.
When we arrived, the venue was already pretty full. This looked promising…but I was leaving at 9… birthday celebrations and all. When it came to leaving however, it took a heartfelt assassination of an MJ track to finally pull myself away. It was approaching 11pm.
Quite honestly, I didn’t want to leave. Even with my bleeding ears, it was wonderful.
I’ve always supposed gospel churches must be pretty uplifting but with such low expectations of the night, I couldn’t have predicted how utterly satisfying it would feel. Singing along to great tunes, such as Mary Mary’s ‘Shackles’, Madonna’s ‘Like A Prayer’ and ‘Oh Happy Day’, as featured on Sister Act 2, made you feel like you were in the movie. The clapping, the audience choruses – so beautifully conducted by Toni – and the choir, straight and direct from London’s multi-location Singology group. Gorgeous singers that were essentially your backing entourage.
To make the night even better, the hosts Fallen Angel Eleanor Conway and Mad Monkmaster Flash entertained between the songs with comedy, improvised slapstick sketches and crowd interaction. Guests can fill in forms for ‘The Confessional’ which get read out throughout the night and there are prize giveaways for the first singer on stage and the wittiest confession.
Unbeknownst to me, Gospeloke has been a huge hit on the festival circuit. At Jamie’s Big Feast, the organisers were approached by Pomarina, which agreed to sponsor efforts to get a London night started. Producers of a unique cider champagne, the people at Pomarina clearly have good taste – I haven’t felt this impressed by a London night out since my first Secret Cinema; Blade Runner one drizzly Friday night in a Canary Wharf warehouse in 2010.
The next Gospeloke is on 27th November at The Queen of Hoxton in Shoreditch. I wholeheartedly recommend you go. If you skipped pilates at lunch, you might be pleased to hear that singing has been scientifically proven to burn calories, improve mood and increase heart rate variability, which lowers the risk of heart attacks. It’s healthier than yoga. Get your stress-busting early bird tickets for a fiver here.
See you there!