Denim – Unzipped

TOMMY SHANE finds himself fawning over Elektra Cute at this cross-dressing extravaganza.

amrou Charlie Parham elektra cute ellie kendrick glamrou sophie crawford Tom Rasmussen

Flicking my pink hair from my face, and tilting forward on the tips of my four inch platforms, I stretched out my painted fingernails to touch the outstretched hand of Elektra Cute – the coy, blue lipped drag queen. It was madness. I have blisters on six of my toes. All through fawning after the guy who last week was demanding his pound of flesh as Shylock.

Denim metamorphosed not just Guy Wolf into a coquettishly smiling goddess, but it had transformed me – and seemingly everyone else – into a giggling little groupie. And while I do have a special soft spot for Electra Cute, she’s only one fifth of Denim. Glamrou, who opened with her go-to song ‘Say My Name’, unleashed the finger-tingling anticipation of the audience, plummeting us into a star-stricken euphoria.

Amrou Al-Khadi has somehow realised that cross-dressing, far from a taboo, is something Cambridge students love doing. And he’s shown, rather than told, that binary definitions of gender are quite draconian. Though associations are usually made with sexual orientation, for me Denim most potently shows that gender is a spectrum. And on this Bacchic night, pretty much every part of that spectrum was represented in fabulous fashion.

But though this is of course a profound and progressive political statement, I think I’m safe in saying most of us were just high on Tom Rasmussen’s rendition of ‘Love On Top’, and the half-naked backing dancers.

The night was labelled ‘Denim: Unzipped’, and stripping did thankfully ensue, in a scale that was orgiastic. And as for the audience, you could barely recognise your closest friends in their cross-dressed alter ego. As you can see from all the photos, the costumes were some of the best you’ll see in Cambridge.

We had some cameos from Sophie Crawford and Ellie Kendrick, Denim old-timers of yesteryear. The former was dressed as an alien-cum-lucifer, while Kendrick rapped looking like Kathy Burke from Kevin and Perry Go Large – a comparison that perhaps doesn’t do justice to Kendrick’s electric performance.

The Union must be congratulated too, with numerous bars, a free cloakroom, cheap drinks and a swift, painless wristband system. Following a term card that has shown the Union at its worst, Denim really is this institution at its best.

But (a but that has appeared in every Denim review to date), there were technical problems yet again. Filthy Lucretia (Joe Bates), with an expression of befuddlement and exasperation that has become familiar at Denim shows, pressed down on her keyboard only to be met with silence. Glamrou then seemed to mime as she sang to a faulty microphone.

I’m in no way trying to suggest that technical faultlessness is simple or easy. I know it isn’t. But the show has been plagued with a problem that, while seemingly superficial, detracts from the sleekness and professionalism of the show. It wasn’t quite so disastrous as at Fitz ball – but it was enough to frustrate.

But, in the end, the technical problems were not what you were thinking about. Not when you’ve got MC Fräulein Von Fabulous to fill the gaps of silence with an improvised rendition of ‘You’ve Got The Love’ – in a cappella.

The Denim stage was drenched in talent – often pouring out when you least expect it. For that, I can forgive the blisters from my platform heels, the semi-permanent glitter, and the pain from the ring that almost didn’t come off. Denim’s worth it.

Photography: Tom Porteous

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Check out The Tab’s ‘best dressed’ article here.