🪩 BABES ON THE FLOOR: Mighty Hoopla 2024

countess luann! jojo siwa! pole dancers!

Babes On The Floor

CONTENT WARNING
Mentions of zionism; potentially NSFW imagery.

Jojo Siwa, in a rainbow-sparkle version of her current KISS-inspired look, and her BSL interpreter, a grinning Black lady wearing all black, wave their hands in British Sign Language applause

Jojo Siwa and her BSL interpreter

THE LOWDOWN
WHO? V, Countess Luann, Alison Goldfrapp, Jojo Siwa, many many more acts and tens of thousands of fans
WHAT? The second day of the seventh annual Mighty Hoopla festival
WHERE? Brockwell Park, Brixton
WHEN? 2nd June 2024
WHY? BECAUSE IT’S HOOPLA, DARLING x

Well, the weekend of the British queer calendar has been and gone for another year, and after many years of going to Hoopla alone or with friends, it was finally time to let my Mum experience it. A day later and we’re both happy. Extremely tired, but happy.

The one thing that hindered my experience this time round was that getting there and back was, like Jojo Siwa’s karma, an absolute bitch. I was so melted-down you could’ve confused me for a fluorescent pink candle. I’d have taken the Overground to Denmark Hill, but fucking roadworks made this an impossibility, so I had to take a Replacement Bus Service round the backstreets there then take an Uber.

A dildo ring-toss setup.

Like this picture above, getting there was a bundle of dicks.

On the way back, trains were also a bit higgledy-piggledy to the point of non-viability (at least for my lizard brain), and we had to literally hunt around Herne Hill for the Uber we bought. Next time round, I’m cutting out the middle man and hiring cabs (Uber or otherwise) from known locations, both ways.

Otherwise, I’d have been as happy as I was last year, Barrioke and Loreen and she-who-shall-not-be-named, cultivating in “oh fuck, the entire city of London came out to see pre-Saltburn Sophie Ellis Bextor?” I was hot and, when I wasn’t screaming lyrics so hard I couldn’t really speak anymore, I was bothered. But, goodness no, this is still a day I’d never regret. Or forget.

The boyband V sing on stage

V: secretly a jam band?

V
For those who don’t remember V, they were five good-looking men of around twenty years apiece, who spent the year 2004 singing generic mid-00s boyband pop and gelling their hair in-between releasing singles. Now they are four good-looking men of around fourty years apiece, who are spending the year 2024 singing generic mid-00s boyband pop and brand-new 2020s variants thereof, relying on just shampoo and conditioner to sort out their locks.

We arrived at Brockwell just as their set started (with their signature song, ‘Blood, Sweat and Tears’), having had to miss a performance by one of my Mum’s friends during the Quiplash cabaret hour, and becoming extra-delayed because we got interviewed by the babes at Stonewall about the upcoming election. We joined the crowd during the second song, afterwards being treated to their greatest and greatest-yet-to-come hits.

One of the members of the band V, siging lve

One V

Another memer of the ban V

Another V

Was it a bit “ChatGPT creates an erstwhile boyband reunion?” Right down to the noughties-tastic music videos playing in the background because “hey, remember these guys?”, yes. Was it still a great concert? Yes – they clearly still have it. Did it give me any suprise conspiracy theories about them being a Phish-style jam band forced into a boy-band cookie cutter? Yes.

You see, at the end of (IIRC) ‘Hip To Hip’, one of the Vs made the audience and his fellow bandmates twirl. A year ago, my best-internet-friend from New Hampshire saw this jam band called Dopapod, whose concert made a girl in the front row twirl like a dervish the entire time. Therefore, V are the Dopapod of boybands.

V’s reunion stems from the same company (whose name I forgot) that also brought the comebacks of girl groups The 411 and CLEA upon Hoopla stage, the latter reunion immediately imploding when it turned out one of the members was a Trump-supporting, QAnon believing fundie (of which I pray none of the Vs are). As for that company’s next rodeo, I have a gut instinct its either the Faders or the Lovebites next. Olivia Rodrigo’s impact I guess…

Countess LuAnn, in a smart fedora, performs Money Can’t Buy You Class

But are fedoras really that classy?

COUNTESS LUANN
That being said, for most and many, V were only an opening act, nay but a pre-show for the cabaret to come. Real Housewives legend Countess Luann de Lesseps is so, well, legendary that they made her perform both days. Maybe being able to only afford the one made her set a priority. (That and my Mum’s Real Housewives love lol x)

The Countess performed a mixture of self-jabbing covers (e.g. Bonnie Raitt’s Something To Talk About, Miley Cyrus’ Flowers) and her iconic brand of reality-TV-capitalist pop famously parodied by Kristen Wiig et al on SNL, with this duality best exemplified by her first song (‘Lady Marmalade’ by way of ‘Chic C’est La Vie’). In between, she waxed lyrical about men, mentors and men. And Sonja, at one point.

A Countess Luann superfan holding a sign saying It’s Lu… Sorry I called you a pedafile

Oh and the crowd were Real Housewives-brand RABID. I think this person’s name is Theo according to me spooking on my Mum’s Insta browsing.

Out of all the Big Pop Acts I saw that day, her set felt the most cohesive and point-hitting, and the crowd were all up for chanting her mantras about how money can’t buy you class n’all that. Only one thing would have made it better: a performance of ‘What Do I Want For Christmas?’. But it’s fucking June.

Cyro, in blue and white bib and chaps, perorming on stage

Cyro

Chiyo, in shorts and bandana, MC-ing

Chiyo

Afterwards, we just wandered around a bit because Luann had exhausted us like both our names were “Dorinda Medley”. That meant swapping most of Rachel Stevens’ set (except for ‘Sweet Dreams’ WITH THE RIBBONS) for drum ‘n’ bass and Chick ‘n’ Sourz. This got us gravitating towards a certain cabaret tent, where Chiyo and Cyro were wrapping up their Man Up! showcase. Once Cyro’s song and dance about accountability and reparations ended, out came the pole dancers.

Zen, seductively twirling upside down on a pole

Zen, in a state

BLACKSTAGE POLE x GAL PALS
You know I love a good bunch of strippers. Especially when they’re a QTIPOC+ SWer-owned and operated initiative showcasing that poles arent just for White, middle-class yummy mummies wanting to get in shape in the most risque, “ooh la la!” way anymore. Accompanying them on musical duties were the resident DJs of Brighton’s brightest ladies-and-theydies night, Gal Pals, showering us in an ever-flowing stream of R&B and rap anthems from ‘WAP’ to ‘Who’s That Girl’.

Dancer Sabrina Jade leaves the pole excitedly

Sabrina Jade

Pole dancer Zaki Musa, an Asian male wearing sunglasses and a snakeskin singlet, pulls a face on the pole

Zaki Musa

The dazzler that is Sabrina Jade was the only dancer I knew of beforehand, all Glamazonian in a slime-esque one-piece. Also on the pole were the as-sweet-as-her-name Peachy; Zen, making her Blackstage debut with a winning smile on her face, and the absolutely wonderful Zaki Musa, who used a bottle of spray and a cloth as a clever prop.

Cutie Whippingham, a Black stripper in a shiny purple micro-bikini, checks out the pole

Cutie Whippingham

Peachy, an East Asian stripper in a red bra and skirt that matches her dip-dyed hair, rides the pole

Peachy

But my favourite dancer of them all was Blackstage’s founder, Cutie Whippingham, who stripped down to the tiniest purple micro-bikini the world has ever seen and had the entire audience spellbound. In fact, I wanted to befriend the entire audience; there was a mutual exchange of energy in that tent.

I’m gonna have to pay for Gal Pals tickets for Pride, haven’t I?

We bought bubbles. We bought a bubble gun. We barely used it – and why did we bother, when Hoopla was its own SMOKE FILLED bubble machine?

Once we felt like our time in the strip club was done, we headed over to the trees for a drink and some shade, while Cat Burns (in the Jake Shears already-saw-them-live-so-background-music-they-are slot) covered Wheatus’ ‘Teenage Dirtbag’. Had I known she had that type of power, I should have asked the TikTok powers that be if she could put it in her set that one time. Unplugged.

Alison Goldfrapp sings in a furry black, white, teal, magenta and snot-green coat.

Alison Goldfrapp

ALISON GOLDFRAPP
Thank goodness that all that pole-dancing meant that we didn’t have that much time to waste before we watched Jojo Siwa’s support act. And I don’t think an icon like Alison Goldfrapp will ever be essentially reduced to Jojo Siwa’s support act ever again. I think I witnessed history with this.

Goldfrapp’s set was pretty straightforward. Accompanied by a drummer, two keytar-wielding backing singers and another two dancers in bellowy jewel-town outfits, she performed her greatest hits almost but not quite studio-matchy-matchy. It’s easy to compare her set to she-who-shall-not-be-named’s from last year, right down to the furs, but the fact that Alison actually acknowledged the audience as people probably shows how much more of a hopeful prospect she is. My Mum said she felt really chilled during her set.

Two female contemporary dancers: an Indian girl in a dark purple outfit and a Black girl in a dark blue outfit

I dub them the “Frappucinos”

My only negative feedback about this set was that she didn’t perform ‘Strict Machine’, which we’d all agree is her most-known song after ‘Ooh La La’. I wonder if she has any negative history with this song. That being said, I LOVED singing along to ‘Ride A White Horse’; it’s not just iconic, it’s cute. And a drone constantly flew around our heads and it was also sooo cute.

Jojo Siwa singing on stage surrounded by/flirting with her mixed-gender dancers

Gay Pop in action

JOJO SIWA
Then, the main event. Out disappeared the grey-bearded tank-top set and in came the Sapphics. I had been waiting for this moment for weeks. Chloe Fineman going “Now I’m 20 AND GAY! Bet you’ve never seen a GAY GIRL BEFORE?!” became my echolalia in the process. Time was upon us. Gay pop was finally coming to Britain.

Jojo’s Kiss-inspired good-girl-gone-bad transformation has been treated with as much ridicule as it has praise. Sure, she lipsynced or straight-up danced through her songs, and she played ‘Karma’ a time and a quarter. But did we care?

Three sapphic Jojo Siwa fans, wearing black and sporting temporary tattoos of hearts with “Jojo” in them.

Three Jojo stans in action. The one on the left dubbed themselves “Jojo as G-Flip”. G-Flip 2025?

I came into this set joking that this was going to be my Hendrix at Woodstock moment, but having heard her extremely sweary, pre-’Boomerang’ (yep! she did ‘Boomerang’ while looking all eeeevilll!) speech, I bet half of the insufferable White WLW population are gonna treat this like it’s their “I Have A Dream”.

My Mum was shocked that her set wasn’t longer, but I reassured her that she had the Loreen slot: three full songs long but will bring in A CROWD. (Also someone was holding a giant cutout of Lizzie MacGuire. Based.)

A pole dancer, White with dirty blonde plaits, a green bra and black knickers, upside down.

Don’t know what picture to put in here so here’s a pic of another, clearly White, pole dancer from earlier in the day.

We ended the day with dinner while inadvertently listening to Bright Light Bright Light bring out mid-90s two-hit-wonder Berri to perform her (well, fellow two-hit-wonders New Atlantic’s) signature cover of Elkie Brooks’ ‘Sunshine After The Rain’. If I was told beforehand that Berri was gonna show up at Mighty Hoopla, I’d have unironically booked her appearance in as a Luann/Jojo-esque non-negotiable. But at least I got to hear her provide some backing vocals for BLX2 while gobbling down a very rich poutine. That being said, her singing was soft to the point of mumbly, with (I think) Ultra Naté’s appearance later in the set shocking me with what VOCALS she has.

It was also there that I had to break the news to a cuddly Chiyo about how Jessie Ware, that night’s headliner, has at least dabbled in a bit of Zionism. After when I had to break the news about Kim Petras being a Dr Luke muppet to him, I hate to be such a harbinger of doom for him. Obviously, he was devastated. Next time I’m meeting him, I’m apologising.

(I also found out via this account that Chaka Khan performed for the IDF in 2012; if these past twelve years have radicalised both her and the icon that is Ruben Studdard, then thank fuck for that, but I was so enraged about how pinkwashy the upcoming queer soundsystem night she’s doing for Meltdown may be, that I had to email the Black Obsidian Sound System about it. Fortunately, This Is My Culture is also happening that day. Better to be safe rather than sorry…)

Margo Marshall in the Pleasure tent wearing all-black outfit, no makeup on and sunglasses covering their eyes

Margo Marshall

Olivier nominee Rob Madge in a camouflage T-shirt and blue skirt, holding a fan

Rob Madge

Yshee Black smiling in a black pixie wig and animal-print dress

Yshee Black

By then, we were absolutely beat. Yes, the fact that we couldn’t escape Herne Hill meant that we again inadvertently heard the entirety of Rita Ora’s set (wonderful!), but that meant we also had to let go the opportunity of hearing Rozalla perform ‘Everybody’s Free’ with a brass band under a blacklight. Pour one out.

If there’s a next time, and I hope there is, I’m gonna be super-careful about planning. I feel like all those expenses – Ubers there and back, VIP tickets for both days, probably a spritz or five in my system – will end up being a net positive for the experience. Potentially that little bit more chilled, but they’ll probably have a Big Gay Fave like Charli and/or Troye headlining and I’m afraid it’ll turn into a Lion King-style stampede.

Also, thanks to those pesky VIP tickets, elusive Mitchell eluded me AGAIN!

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