BRIONY BATES wants to love Denim, but is thwarted by its terrible sound.

Friday 16th March, The Union, £7/£8/£9


I’ve had a very queer couple of days: it was all high kicks and following your dreams for Footloose at the ADC on Thursday, then to Denim for glitter and glamour and sleaze.

I didn’t realise until recently how lucky we are to have such a great LGBT presence in Cambridge. OK, in a lot of ways the Cambridge gay scene is limited – there are only so many times you can go to The Cow on a Monday – but friends at other unis were surprised and impressed that one of the biggest events of term was a student-run drag night.

And Denim is no gay ghetto: all the straight boys get their lipstick and fishnets on too. Seeing pride colours in the Union chamber, a space created exclusively for straight white men if ever there was one, was fantastic. I love the fact that we have Denim. Unfortunately, I couldn’t quite love Denim itself.

The blame for this must be laid at the feet of whoever was doing the sound. The Denim aesthetic works well, situating the event firmly at the trashy end of camp. The tinsel palm trees and Hollywood “Walk of Fame” for the likes of Anna Drogynous were cheesy in just the right way, and I was sad to find that I’d arrived too late for the fire-eaters and paparazzi that were around outside. Instead, Glamrou (Amrou Al Khadi) and the other drag queens and kings wandered around entertaining the queue, which was a nice substitute.

The projections in the chamber weren’t the usual spliced together film clips, but stylish black and white behind-the-scenes footage, teasing us for what was to follow. The Denims themselves set the bar as high as their wigs for looking fabulous, and it’s now established that the clientele follow suit: fluorescents are apparently a must. And of course, a few gyrating, glittery, topless men are always welcome. I was impressed. A lot of thought had gone into pitching this just right. But then the show started and the problems began.

First, the mics didn’t work. Then when they did, the singing was too quiet and the band too loud. Everything was painfully wrong. Some people I spoke to said that some of the performers weren’t the best of singers anyway (although Rebecca Fitzsimons’s rendition of Let’s Get It On was sensational), but for me that wouldn’t have mattered. This was about showing off, and that is something the Denims do well.

The set-list was full, as you might expect, of some serious camp classics, opening with Get Happy and moving on to Bad Romance, nicely juxtaposing classic and current gay icons, and the energy was high. However, the sound was genuinely so awful that I couldn’t stand to listen to most of the show.

It’s so disappointing when one crucial thing spoils an evening. I’ll put the problems down to the ghosts of some indignant straight white men haunting the machines and look forward to the next, more technically proficient Denim.

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