Posh Club cabaret comes to Hackney
Swanky senior citizens dress up for Hackney's trendiest club
WAITERS in penguin suits sweep past packed tables, holding scones and cucumber sandwiches aloft. The sounds of chatter, clattering china and swing music mingle in the air and, as the lights begin to dim, two girls in sequins shimmy onto the stage and begin to tap and kick their way through ‘Putting On The Ritz.’
It’s a cabaret club, but not as you know it. We’re at the borough’s inaugural Posh Club, at St Paul’s West Hackney, designed for ‘swanky senior citizens, elegant elders and glamorous golden girls’, according to its founder Simon Casson.
For three hours a week, over 10 weeks, the church hall is transformed into a Parisian nightclub; with sandwiches served without their crusts by waitresses in pearls, and top cabaret acts performing as the champagne flows.
Irene Sinclair, 106 (above), says: “It’s quite wonderful. I can’t believe how they’ve transformed the place. At my age it’s lovely to have a smartly laid table and proper china. I’m totally delighted with it.
“So many of these people usually stay at home,” she adds, gesturing round at an audience who are all over 60. “This is such a treat, an opportunity to get out, have fun and make friends.”
St Paul’s rector, Niall Weir, was searching for something to involve the older community with when he came across Posh Club, up and running in Crawley.
Convinced that Hackney could benefit too, he contacted the club’s co-founder Simon Casson – of arts company Duckie, which produces the show – and between them they organised enough funding to host a 10-week trial, of which this was the first event.
Niall says: “It’s been so popular that we’re having to tell people it’s fully booked.”
An hour after this audience of 80 leaves, the set will come down and 90 homeless people will be fed a three-course meal in the same space. Before that, however, Niall takes his turn in the limelight. The compere introduces him, and Niall slides in behind the grand piano.
“You’re never too old for a bit of romance, are you?” he laughs into the microphone. “Noooo!” clamours the audience, before the pastor turns piano player and serenades them with a song.
Emmy Minton, the club’s fundraiser, said: “We did a lot of consultation before setting the club up. We asked people why they weren’t using the provisions in place for the elderly. People wanted something that gave then a bit of real glamour and excitement. We hope to make the Posh Club a permanent fixture at St Paul’s. We just need the funding, but there is plenty of evidence that it works extremely well. Our guests tell us they feel less isolated, happier and more part of a community.”
The next act is just warming up: Jess Love, a cabaret act (above), starts spinning dozens of hoola hoops at once. There is a collective gasp from the audience as she leaps between hoops.
“I’ve never been to anything like this before,” says Eva Lucas, 64. Adding: “We want to come again.”
Supported by the Big Lottery Fund and Church Urban Fund, money is still scarce and volunteers are key to the club’s success.
As tea sets are cleared, more live acts perform, a raffle is done and flutes are filled with champagne.
Nathan Evans, one of the many waiters giving their time for free, explains why: “I just think it’s a lovely idea,” he says. Adding: “It’s a reciprocal thing. You get that warm and fuzzy feeling for doing it.”
Posh Club is on every Wednesday, 12noon to 3pm, until 25 March, at St Paul’s West Church Hall, Stoke Newington. Call: 020 7737 4043 for more information and to book a table. Tickets are priced at £3 and the dress code is unsurprisingly...posh!