TAKE ME TO WONDERLAND
WAS CHROMATICA THE LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL?
One might be tempted to play down the importance of night-life right now. We are currently living through serious times, the likes of which we may never see again. Lives have been lost, hearts have been broken, and it seems like the joy has been sucked from even the merriest of souls
It would be wrong to weigh up the struggle of any one particular group of society against another - we’ve all had it pretty rough to say the least. But I do think this distinct famine of glee has hit the LGBTQIA community harder than most. There is something about our community that creates joy, concentrates and disperses it. When our rainbow coloured spores are taken by the wind, they can take root anywhere.
So naturally we found a way to make our joy survive. It wasn’t easy. Our hallowed dance halls had closed their doors, and we found ourselves cut off from our chosen families. Worse still, some of our kin won’t get the chance to dance again. Long days were followed by even longer nights. Try as they might, even our beloved Drag idols couldn’t fully lift our spirits as they took to Zoom in their droves.
All hope seemed lost until...
The orchestra swirls into action, overpowering the echoes of Saturday nights lost. Wondrous, emotive strings descend upon the deserted streets. Building in purpose and majesty. Unfolding like a fairytale before your eyes, until they softly fade away.
And then, from the mountains she emerged....
Cutting through the darkness like a humming neon mirage with the voice of a saviour, she carries with her our most sacred of sacraments. Beats, Glorious beats. The energy from which we feed. We were starving and she offered us a feast. All we needed was something to latch on to. A life line to keep us from losing ourselves in the grey dispair. We grabbed hold of Chromatica, the sixth album from Lady GaGa, and used it as a floatation device.Our joy found a way to survive spurred on by a proven survivor.
After ever so slightly cooling off with 'Joanne', GaGa had forced her way back into the conversation with the critically acclaimed remake of 'A Star Is Born'. Its mega-hit lead single ‘Shallow’ became a commercial smash, beloved by the masses. There had been rumblings that GaGa would capitalise on this rejuvenation by going back to her roots as the super-charged queen of excessive power pop. Those rumours were proven to be quite true with the release of the stomping ‘Stupid Love’, a fearsome slab of exquisite chugging pomp. The accompanying video was appropriately camp and joyous – not to mention that the fashion was fierce. Mother Monster was back in business.
‘‘My name isn't Alice, but I'll keep lookin' for wonderland’’
The hype for the upcoming album, to be called Chromatica, was ferocious. The date was set, the tour was announced and the stage was set for the summer of GaGa. When, all of a sudden, our attention was deferred by the unthinkable. A Virus which put life as we knew it on an indefinite hiatus, along with hopes of our heroines grande return.
Fast forward to May 2020, and a global lockdown was in full effect. Our Joy was fading, doused by the freezing waters of isolation. But help was at hand...
Rain on me. The song that started our hearts beating once more. Of course it was all a gloriously camp affair with its huge 90's influenced house instrumental, its scintillating choreography and a crowd pleasing guest appearance from Ariana Grande - a recipe for an irresistible pop extravaganza.
And gradually we started dancing again. We danced in our bedrooms, on the streets, heck we even danced whilst putting out the washing. We danced and we dreamed. Dreamed of that glorious day when the doors of our favourite queer establishment would open again, and we would all be together once more waiting for that iconic opening line.
It wouldn't stop there either. The epic 'Chromatica ii' and, its jaw dropping transition into '911', became a TikTok staple. Our beloved Queens found a new lease of life, lip syncing for their lives to anthems like 'Sour Candy', 'Plastic Doll' and, of course, the inescapable 'Babylon'. A song to rival even 'Born This Way' with its unashamed Queer appeal.
While no-one is claiming that Chromatica is the greatest album ever made (it’s probably not even the best Lady GaGa album), one thing is crystal clear- never had an album come at such an important time. A prolonged bout of isolation requires some kind of incentive to stay the creeping fingers of madness. A prisoner hangs on in the hope of freedom, and for the incarcerated masses of the LGBTQ+ community Chromatica signified just that. The hope that we can make it to the promised land.
One year on from Chromatica and liberation now seems closer than ever. Gradually the sun is filtering through the cracks, and that light at the end of the tunnel seems like it's getting just that little bit closer. They are already dancing in Australia. In the UK, the bars are opening up again and some have already experienced the sweet ambrosia of 'Rain On Me' and '911', as experienced en mass. There is an unmistakable buzz in the air. Of course, some of us will have to wait that little bit longer. But we can do this.
And when you feel like you can't get through another day, our guardian angel has some sound advise to guide you to the other side. So put on your shiniest outfit, clear the floor, turn your speakers up as loud as they go, and repeat after me -
“Strut it out, walk a mile. Serve it, ancient city style
Talk it out, babble on Battle for your life, Babylon That's gossip, what you on? Money don't talk, rip that song
Gossip, babble on
Battle for your life,
Because our joy is unstoppable.