It’s testament to the resilience of the LGBTQ community – and Londoners overall – that the day after a terrible tragedy, we can still come together regardless for happier, joyful times.
The Mighty Hoopla celebrates alternative club culture, hosted by Sink The Pink and Guilty Pleasures and with other club nights making an appearance like R&She, We Love Pop and Ultimate Power.
It’s a hotbed of diversity where everyone is welcome, no matter what their sexuality, ethnicity, size or any other persuasion. This is a festival that encourages people to be free and be themselves. Isn’t that what London does best?
Years & Years couldn’t have been a more appropriate headline act. In an extravagant set that included a cover of Britney’s 'Toxic' atop a throne, frontman Olly Alexander sang and twirled across the stage topless and covered in glitter, shimmering like the queer king he is. More importantly, he called out his recent BBC documentary on mental health in the queer community and encouraged us to love and support one another.
“This tent loves you,” he said and we loved him back, the band performing a string of hits from 'Shine' to 'Desire', 'Gold' and 'Real', all backed by glitter-clad dancers. Ending the night with the euphoric 'King' was a reminder of how fresh that track still sounds two years after it was released.
They weren’t the only band to deliver bangers. The BBC Sound Of shortlisted Raye sang the Jonas Blue single 'By Your Side' and Jax Jones 'You Don’t Know Me', both of which she featured on, whilst Finnish breakthrough act Alma was a knockout singing 'Dye My Hair'.
Older acts delivered too, even if their sets were disappointingly short. Will Young had just enough time to sing the timeless 'Jealousy' as well as a cover of Crystal Waters’ 'Gypsy Woman', while Sophie Ellis-Bextor covered Modjo’s 'Lady' among a handful of classic hits. Earlier in the day, All Saints dropped a mix of older and recent singles, while Fleur East’s 'Sax\ was as vibrant as ever and Vula, best known for singing with Basement Jaxx, had us singing along to anthems 'Oh My Gosh' and 'Red Alert'.
These acts were interspersed with DJ sets and dance acts from Sink The Pink’s wonderfully eccentric group of drag performers. Elsewhere the festival had Charlotte Church singing pop classics as part of her Late Night Pop Dungeon, while The Grand had power ballads and the craziest game of bingo hosted by Bongo’s Bingo.
Free-spirited, relaxed, well-organised and with tonnes of glitter and confetti, Mighty Hoopla is a triumph for London’s festival scene. As one act put it, “the weirdos win in the end”.
Words by Ed Nightingale
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