Lent Appeal 2022: The Posh Club at St Pauls West Hackney
Happy Easter! Jesus is Risen!
Over Lent 2022, we have been thinking about how churches are responding to tackling isolation and mental health in their communities.
While Lent is over, the Lent Appeal continues: you can still give: details at the bottom of this blog.
And for our final Church Story, we went to visit St Pauls, West Hackney.
Here is a short film, accompanying a blog by the RectorFr Niall Weir, on their journey in tackling loneliness and how that led them to host the burst of fabulousness and joy that is the Posh Club.
‘All the lonely people – where do they all come from?’
Quite a lot of them come from the Ecclesiastical Parish of West Hackney, as it happens and quite a lot of them are over 60.
Which is why, back in 2015, we at St Paul’s buddied up with veteran LGBTIQ+ club runners Duckie in an effort to do something about it.
Hence, the Posh Club, Hackney where every Wednesday afternoon, over 100 swanky seniors, elegant elders and glamorous golden oldies – Irene was 104 – descend on St Paul’s Church Hall, which is transformed into Le Moulin Rouge especially for the occasion.
They come for 3 hours of heavenly mania and divine madness, with linen table clothes, fine china, lashings of tea, cakes, sarnies and champagne served by black-tied and white-pinnied waiters and waitresses.
The guests are entertained by comedians, jugglers, strippers, opera singers, conjurers, drag artists, Chinese Elvis, Obviously Elvis, Black Elvis and fan-dancing sword-swallowing burlesque legend Missa Blue, whom the Rector loved so much that his wife booked her for his 60th birthday.
And there’s dancing and singing and moving to the music with everyone – wheelchair users included – throwing shapes to a playlist that spans 60 years.
As we say in Ireland, ‘A little snow on the roof doesn’t mean to say that the boiler is out.’
Posh Club is so many things…
The Posh Club has been described as “the only club in London where people get rushed to A& E for NOT taking their drugs” – yes, it did happened once.
It’s been described by Duckie’s inhouse academic Dr Duckie as a ‘Home Made Mutant Hope Machine’, probably because when Covid closed us down, we went on-line with PCTV – Posh Club Television – and with al fresco ‘Petit Posh Parties’ in West Hackney’s one acre Rectory Garden, where social distancing is a walk in the park, darling.
The Posh Club has also been described as a world of ‘Queers and Old Dears’ – not that the two are mutually exclusive.
If you’d seen the “Posh Club Dance Club’ - which is made up of 15 Posh Club regulars - all sprayed gold and in ra ra skirts - wooing the world with Duckie at Gay Pride a couple of years ago, you’d be hard pressed not to agree.
But maybe the best is description of the Posh Club is that it is an ‘Anti-Loneliness Project’. As elevator pitches go – and many of our number don’t do stairs any more – that’s a hard one to beat.
And does it work?
I couldn’t possibly comment but I can point you here in which senior academics from Queen Mary College gave their verdict in a two-year Arts Council funded research-based evaluation of the impact of the Posh Club on the well-being of the older adults.
The findings are impressive. Do check them out.
And is it of the Holy Spirit?
‘By their fruits shall ye know them,’ as someone once said, and dull would they be of soul who could pass by the Posh Club and not see love, joy, peace, kindness, gentleness and generosity by the bucketful.
The jury is out, however, on the self control bit.