So, this is an entirely self-indulgent post. How is that different from my usual posts, you rightly ask? Not at all, except this is something I’m actually involved in, rather than just what i reckon about something. The choir of which I am a very proud member, LIPS, performed at the Union Chapel this Sunday gone, and it was Brills, Thrills and Skills all wrapped into one.
If I haven’t bored you to tears about LIPS Choir before, or forced you to come to one of our concerts, here’s the low-down:
LIPS is an all-woman pop choir based in Islington. Formed in summer 2009, the choir has now boomed to over 70 members. We rehearse every week, with a wide repertoire ranging from girl-pop of the 40s, 50s and 60s, to iconic dance and disco tracks, ballads, rock anthems plus the greatest old-school soul and nu-skool R&B numbers.
It’s difficult to write anything other than strings of gushing adjectives about how much i love this choir and the 70-odd extraordinary women that make up its numbers. But for fear of bursting into sentimental tears in the middle of the office, I shall attempt it.*
In the three or so years since I’ve been in the choir, it’s grown from 20 women doing a little concert in an upstairs room in Camden in December 2009, to 70 women performing in front of 700-strong audience at the iconic Union Chapel (with a lot of rehearsals and raucous “socials” in between). To have performed on the same stage as my icons, such as Bjork and Bruce Springsteen, is quite something, and it’s only sunk in after the event. Still, it’s probably a night I’ll retell long into my dotage…
To hear LIPSters talking humbly in the run-up to the concert, every time we nailed a rehearsal or someone revealed a new skill, you would think that this all happened by accident. But the enormous amount of effort, skill, vision, support and talent that has gone into LIPS’ growth, which is often invisible to audiences, tells another story.
The lovely Shauna from choir has done a blog post about how supportive LIPS is, and I think its testament to the feminist founding tenets of the choir, that it is such an empowering and supportive place, rather than descending into the bitch-fest that sexism expects when women get together. But this is no fluffy hugs-and-cupcakes environment (although that totally happens. With booze and fags. And dancing. Maybe some shouting). This is real women, not the kind you see on the telly or in films, and this is women at their very best, I think. That’s something we seem to communicate at our concerts, and from the many reports of tears at our rendition of “You Don’t Own Me”, it seems to work!
For me, no matter how tired or stroppy I am (which by Thursday evening, is usually the case), choir practice always lifts my spirits, and I know there are many other women in the choir who think of it as a sanctuary or a confidence boost. I’ve been lucky enough to get to know some world-class women there, and together, the LIPSters are a force of nature.
I look forward to LIPS taking over the world, or just getting barred from some more London hostelries.
*too late. sentimental tears a-go-go
Photo by Amy Harris-Sandstrom