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New Queer Voices: The Cocoa Butter Club

The cabaret collective is providing a vital platform for queer performers of colour.

By Will Stroude

In Attitude’s 25th anniversary issue – available to download and to order globally now – we’re showcasing the boundary-pushing, trailblazing talents who’ll be paving the way for the next next 25 years.

Established in 2016, The Cocoa Butter Club is the cabaret collective providing a vital platform for queer performers of colour in London, with regular nights showcasing everything from neo-burlesque to poetry, live music to voguing.

Here, founder Sadie Sinner, producer Cassie Leon and marketing and audience development Cynthia Franklin explain why their work is so important as the LGBTQ scene enters a tranformaticve new era…

How and, more importantly, why did The Cocoa Butter Club come to be?

Sadie: The Cocoa Butter Club began as a response to the lack of spaces, venues and parties that Queer Transgender and Intersex People of Colour (QTIPOC) experience within the arts.

Cassie: It is a space in which QTIPOC people can showcase work that is significant to their cultural heritage. 

Cynthia: Sadie, our wonderful host and founder, found London to be a city in which QTIPOC creatives were being ignored.

S: There was a misreading of what QTIPOC performers were creating. There are so many POC making incredible work but so few on main stages and in commercial spaces.

How do you want people to feel when they attend a show?

Ca: Empowered, moved represented and challenged. Of course, we also want to capture that joyful cabaret spirit, where people can be as loud as they please in support and admiration of the acts.

Who are you providing a voice for within the queer community through your work?

Cy: We are giving a voice to the QTIPOC community. Performers who are under-represented and under-booked. People and audiences who are marginalised. People of colour who don’t see themselves on stage, in film or television. People who don’t feel safe in commercial spaces.

What are you embracing – or, indeed, challenging – about queer culture through your existence?

S: We allow performers to showcase culturally expressive work, where it otherwise doesn’t exist, work that isn’t invited into commercial spaces. We are embracing our cultures and pushing people’s perception of what cabaret is and can be. With each show we do, we are challenging audiences to think about the last time they saw anything similar.

What are your hopes, dreams and ambitions for the next 25 years?

Ca: In the next 25 years, we will have two or three full productions touring the world at the same time. We will have cabaret collectives all over Europe and beyond, and probably own a venue or two in which we are free to showcase all the QTIPOC talent we can find, and support artists financially and creatively.

In 2044, what do you want your legacy to be?

S: We hope that The Cocoa Butter Club will be integrated  nto the mainstream without losing its magic. We will have established a queer space for arts and culture, and created a platform that will be in good standing for the next generation.

Meet more queer trailblazers in Attitude’s 25th anniversary issue, out now.

Buy now and take advantage of our best-ever subscription offers: 3 issues for £3 in print, 13 issues for £19.99 to download to any device.