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Very early on in the life of this podcast I had Boogaloo Stu on to talk about the cult London club night Shinky Shonky. And, in lots of ways, that was the episode that helped show me that the concept of Lost Spaces was going to work because suddenly people who used to go to Shinky Shonky were talking about the episode on social media and celebrating all of the good times that they had there. So, I wanted to bring Stu back on the show to talk about the final years of the night, when it had moved from central London to The Oak Bar in Stoke Newington, North London. I also wanted to find out why the night eventually ended. I had lofty ideas that the conversation would be about how scenes evolve and change, and how things go from being in fashion to out of fashion… but, Stu couldn’t quite remember any of the details of that time, so it’s more of a fun chat of some of the adventures and misadventures that happened because of the night, and what the ingredients were that made the night so special. There’s also a really interesting conversation about what constitutes ‘drag’ in 2022. Is Boogaloo Stu, a man dressed as another man, with a big blonde quiff and a polyester thong, drag? Or is it just a man in a wig and unhygienic underwear? These, and other cutting edge questions, are asked, and not quite answered on this week’s show!
Boogaloo Stu 00:00
It’s that combination that magic combination of like a slight air of chaos, disco soundtrack, you know free sweets and crisps and filthy Badgers, funny cabaret and you just put all of that into a pot and give it a good mix.
K Anderson 00:17
Hello, my name is K Anderson and you are listening to lost spaces, the podcast that mourns the death of queer nightlife. Every episode I talk to a different person about a venue from their past, the memories that they created there and the people that they used to know.
K Anderson 00:37
So, very early on in the life of this podcast, I had Boogaloo stew on to talk all about the cult London club night Shinki shonky. And to be totally honest, and that was kind of the point in the show, where I realised that this idea had legs had legs, is that what the saying is? Anyway, I realised that people were connecting with this show, because suddenly there were all these people who I didn’t know. So that’s a bonus, who were coming out on social media and sharing the episode talking about how much chunky chunky meant to them. And so now that a few years have passed now that I’m a little more comfortable behind the microphone, and I’m a bit better at asking questions. I wanted to bring Steve back on the show and find out about the last days of the night, after it left central London and it was running at the Oak bar in Stoke Newington in the north of the city. Like what happened? Why did it end? And I had these lofty ideas that the conversation would be all about how fashions change scenes change and how one minute you can be hot. And then the next minute, no one gives a shit about you. But Stu couldn’t quite remember, really any of the details of that time. So it’s more of a fun chat about some of the adventures and misadventures of you know what I mean, that happened because of the night and, crucially, what the ingredients were that made it so special. There’s also a really interesting conversation in here about what constitutes drag in 2022. Is Boogaloo stew, a man who dresses as another man with a big blonde Quiff, and a polyester thong considered drag? Or is it just a man in a wig and unhygenic underwear? These and other cutting edge questions are asked and not quite answered, but kind of maybe answered on this week’s show. Let’s get into it.
Boogaloo Stu 03:18
I suppose it depends on your perception of drag, I think the perception of drag recently has become much broader than it used to be largely through shows like repulsed drag race and this proliferation of drag artists that has been in its wake. There’s lots of people who are different genders or have different approaches to what is termed drag. Whereas maybe 30 years ago, it was a slightly narrower, kind of it was a narrow group of people who were doing something very specific. But I’ve never thought of myself as a drag act. I’ve always just thought of myself as almost like, Liberace. Or, or or like a guy in a elaborate kind of costume, you know? Well,
K Anderson 04:03
so then just picking up on that. Did you experience any other ring by drag artists when you were being vocalist? You
Boogaloo Stu 04:13
know, not that I’m aware of anyway? No, I can’t think of anything.
K Anderson 04:17
That’s boring. Yeah. Everyone was welcoming and friendly.
Boogaloo Stu 04:22
Yeah, I would say so. I mean, I was never part of a drag scene. You know, I wasn’t kind of doing gigs on the drag circuit 20 or 30 years ago, so I wasn’t in that world of people. I wasn’t even in their line of vision for them to make a judgement, good or bad. I was in a kind of little bubble of my own really.
K Anderson 04:43
But you were inviting drag artists in to your night.
Boogaloo Stu 04:48
Yeah, but again, I don’t think there’s one or two of them that that would call themselves drag artists. But again, a lot of the performers I’ve worked with wouldn’t necessarily have termed themselves drag. dolly rocket who I did dynamite Boogaloo with for many years, and she also was a guest at chunky chunky over the years, and she would never have considered herself as a drag act at all. But she grew up on a diet of like Devine and Pete Burns. And boy, George, just like I did, you know, and her kind of influences were from that sort of world. They weren’t from the world of Danila Rue, or, you know, so she didn’t think of herself as a drag, but like me, she acknowledges that if people want to call her a drag, actually, she’s totally open to that, you know, but she’s, I think what they term is that a fab assigned female at
K Anderson 05:39
birth? Yeah, we’re not allowed to that one anymore.
Boogaloo Stu 05:42
Are we not? Oh, my God. That’s that terminology already moved on.
K Anderson 05:46
I think so we’re definitely not allowed to say bio queen. Okay, maybe a fabric the one that we’re I mean,
Boogaloo Stu 05:53
I don’t even know what any of this really means. I’m just like, I just see it on Twitter.
K Anderson 05:59
Well, and you’re like, Okay, better better fall in line.
Boogaloo Stu 06:01
Yeah. But yeah, she she is a sis woman. I think I can say that can’t Yes,
K Anderson 06:08
yes, I give you permission.
Boogaloo Stu 06:10
So everyone that I’ve worked with has definitely had an identity that was separate to drag, but largely happy to be considered that way. If that’s how people if that’s the connection people made, you know, in their mind.
K Anderson 06:25
So then thinking about this broadening of the definition of drag? How do you feel about that?
Boogaloo Stu 06:32
I don’t mind. I don’t know. I haven’t really, I haven’t given that much thought. Shows like RuPaul drag race for its faults. It’s brought a kind of more liberal approach for the, for the general public, people kind of acknowledge it and know what it is and accept it more than they perhaps would have done 1015 20 years ago, you know, so I guess it’s given a lot of people a lot more permission to be themselves and a lot more work as well. You know, there’s a lot more people getting work because of it a lot more gigs, a lot more opportunities and legitimacy in a Yeah, legitimacy through, not beyond the world of clubs and cabaret, but Theatre, Television, radio, all kinds of things, you know, that maybe it wouldn’t have been accessible before to those people.
K Anderson 07:23
Yeah, I love the way that drag race has been a jumping off point for conversations. And people who are very rightly criticising some of the historical definitions of drag that the show has upheld means that we’re moving forward as a community and broadening our understanding and letting more people in giving more people access rather than defining it as this one singular thing.
Boogaloo Stu 07:53
Yeah, I agree with that. Yeah, definitely.
K Anderson 07:57
So I see, I see. Okay, so I need to be upfront with you. I always struggle with separating you, as do with a book of loose do because your names are the same. And you look pretty similar as well. And one of the conversations that I often have with drag queens on this show is about the permission that their character gives them and how it helps them to accentuate parts of their character, and be bolder, be braver, be more confident. And I think we’ve talked before about you being able to tap into that through spaghetti stew. Yeah. Do you ever have trouble separating the two people? No. Oh, okay. So as soon as
Boogaloo Stu 08:49
Yeah, I mean, it’s, I was talking to dolly rocket about this yesterday, actually. Shout out to Delhi rocket Hello. Um, we’re both quite shy. When we’re in costume, or, you know, in private. I’m quite a shy person. And obviously, putting on the Boogaloo. Stupid persona isn’t hugely different to me, but it does give me permission to talk to anyone that you know, say whatever I like, have a hilarious time. Do things that I wouldn’t as as myself necessarily, but the two are very easy to separate. For me. I have a kind of non Boogaloo stool existence, which is very solid and normal. And then I have a Boogaloo stool existence, which is also pretty normal in terms of a routine and a method and all that kind of stuff. There’s nothing too unexpected in it for me. It’s yeah, there’s not a great deal of friction between the two.
K Anderson 09:43
So how, how do you mentally prepare to become stew, but a third book of history?
Boogaloo Stu 09:49
I don’t think I do anymore. It depends what the gig is. Or you know what I’m what I’m doing. Certainly I don’t feel particularly challenged by I my regular gigs, you know, my regular sort of brunch gigs or whatever it is I’m doing in my diary. And then there might be new projects that I’m working on which I generally try to challenge myself with those theatre shows and things like that, that I might be devising or taking part in. So those would be the challenges. And that’s where I get my kind of my creative gratification from doing those kinds of gigs, those kinds of projects where I’m getting my teeth into something new, maybe moving into a new area of work that I’ve never tried before, you know, I’m always up for trying new things, you know, so but so
K Anderson 10:41
Boogaloo stool is more like putting on a well worn dressing gown.
Boogaloo Stu 10:47
Yeah, that’s not a bad way of saying except it wouldn’t be well worn, it would be beautifully crafted out of 70s. lurex and polyester. Well, yeah.
K Anderson 10:56
The polyester never fades does it? So no one would know exactly.
Boogaloo Stu 11:01
You can wash it to high temperature. And there’s something about polyester that it’s so durable. It’s like wearing armour, almost, you know, it’s so indestructible. It’s like wearing a really sturdy corset, even though it’s not corseted. It kind of gives you the same sense of protection, maybe like a 10 A lady or something like that with the costume. 10 The lady
K Anderson 11:25
but it does also make you sweat terribly, doesn’t it? Yeah.
Boogaloo Stu 11:29
Yeah, it does. I mean, that’s why it’s good that you can wash it at high temperature. Yeah, it’s fine. It’s not it’s not too bad. I, you know, to be honest, that my days of doing really sweaty gigs are well, well over. I mean, I haven’t been in a sweaty nightclub scenario for many, many years. The shows now that I do tend to at least have air conditioning, and maybe don’t involve quite so much cavorting. So, yeah, there’s not as much sweat dripping off me as there was 25 years ago. Definitely not.
K Anderson 12:02
So we’ve talked about it not being too difficult to slip into stew. Both salaries. Yeah, keep doing this into Boogaloos do what is, what’s it like slipping back into or like defragging becoming yourself again,
Boogaloo Stu 12:19
that’s interesting, actually. Because it does take even a low key gig even as a sort of gig where I might just go and do one flash mob for someone’s birthday or something like that. I usually do need a bit of time to decompress. I can’t just come straight home. Like if it’s an evening gig or a late night gig. And I’m in London or further afield and I drive home, I might get home at, you know, one or 2am or something like that. I can’t just go straight to bed, I have to kind of spend a bit of time decompressing with a peppermint tea. But I think that’s just you know, it’s like being exhausted and simultaneously wired by the experience, you have to kind of take a bit of time, particularly if you’ve had a really good audience. You know, if you’ve had an audience, you’ve been sort of lapping it up. There’s a buzz, you know, you get from that, obviously. And it takes a little bit of time just to calm down and go. That was that’s a good gig tonight, you know? Because if I do try to go to bed, I’ll just lie awake.
K Anderson 13:23
And so what is the ceremony you make a peppermint tea? You have a biscuit? And then do you intentionally think through the events of the night? Or is it just like a bit of No,
Boogaloo Stu 13:33
nothing that deep. I’m usually driving a few gigs that are local, but I’m usually further afield. So I’d usually be in the car. And I will listen to you know, I’ve got like some playlists of really good sort of late night driving music that I like to listen to, you know, like Nordic pop, dark, a melancholy dance music, you know, Robin, Reich’s up, Annie, acts like that. I love all that. So I’ve got playlists full of music like that. And I’d be listening to the Sun driving through the night. And that that really, that’s part of my ceremony. Definitely. You know, I always had the music on, then when I get home. It’s really just straight on with the cattle. I’ve got fresh milk, then that’s a bonus. Otherwise, the dried mint will do. And then I’ll just sit at the computer really and do really mindless things like look at Facebook, scroll through you no porn. No, nothing like that.
K Anderson 14:37
Does that not help you sleep? So do you think then I’m just gonna ask you to speak on behalf of all introverts right now. Yeah. Do you think that that’s an introvert thing? Or do you think that that happens for all performers?
Boogaloo Stu 14:56
I don’t know. I know it happens with a few people that I know who, you know they have their routine, they have to kind of find a way to wind down after a show. I’m not sure whether it would make you an introvert or an extrovert. I suppose the extrovert would go to the after party. And that’s, that’s definitely not me. As soon as I’m done with a gig, it’s not that I didn’t enjoy it. It’s not that I didn’t like the people. And it’s not that I’m ungrateful or anything like that. I just want to go home. Yeah, and the people like, it’s really hard. Yeah, yeah, the sort of selfie culture that we’re in now as well. I don’t mind doing selfies, but I find it to be quite as sort of shallow interaction. Yeah. So I’m less keen to do that kind of stuff.
K Anderson 15:38
Do you mean like people approaching you at the end of the gig and being like, Oh, can I have a photo with you? Is that what you mean?
Boogaloo Stu 15:43
Yeah, I mean, I don’t mind doing it at all. But I don’t get anything, any gratification from that at all. You know, I know that it’s giving pleasure to others. But I’d rather they enjoy the show more than meeting me afterwards for a photo.
K Anderson 15:56
Yeah. But at least you don’t have to do small talk when all they want is a photo. That’s true. But for anyone out there listening, if you’re ever going to a book loose, you gig, the way to his heart is not to ask for a selfie, and to maybe bring some mint leaves with you.
Boogaloo Stu 16:14
Yeah, bring freshmen I honestly don’t mind if you do a selfie. But the latest thing that I’ve noticed in the past six months, maybe post lockdown is that everyone’s taking videos, they ask you to wave and say hi, instead of posing for a photograph, they’re like, say hi. And so you’re like on video in my phone instead? I don’t know, because they’re all using on tick tock and stuff like that. So
K Anderson 16:38
at least there’s less pressure then to get the perfect shot. Yeah, sorry, I’m being really like silver lining today. Fuck those people. And also,
Boogaloo Stu 16:47
in terms of selfies until recently, I mean, I’ve had COVID now. So I got over it really quite easily. I got off lightly. But prior to getting COVID I was still a bit nervous about doing anything like a selfie, I’d find myself kind of trying to sort of slightly held my breath when I was close to people, you know, which is kind of insane. Because you can’t pull a good face or pull a good post when you’re thinking about holding your breath as well. And then look at other people being really carefree about it and like, oh, you know, and just partying and getting in there and selfie Central. And I’d be like, Oh, you want a selfie? Okay, I knew to hold my breath. And, obviously, now that I’ve had it, I’ve got immunity for I don’t know, a month or something. I’ve got a month of selfie availability. People really want me to do a selfie, then that’s fine. But yeah, I don’t know.
K Anderson 17:42
Did you consider buying one of those like plastic face masks? They’re like clear. No. Kinda love them.
Boogaloo Stu 17:50
I used to have a costume, which was an old fireman’s helmet, which had a perspex visor on it. But I got rid of it. I don’t know. I think it went to the charity shop. I tend to give all my old costumes to the charity shop. And, you know, I don’t think too much about it. But occasionally I think back and I think oh, I wish I still had that fireman’s helmet, it would have come in really handy in the age of COVID. And it would have looked glamorous as well. But I no longer have it. So it’s not possible.
K Anderson 18:18
Someone else is out there getting their selfie taken with that helmet on. Yeah, probably. I
Boogaloo Stu 18:22
do wonder who’s got my costume bits. Sometimes I’m thinking, who’s got that sequinned thong, you know? That moth eaten sequinned thong
K Anderson 18:32
gave a thong to charity. Yeah,
Boogaloo Stu 18:34
they got it all. Is that oh, it’s clean? Of course.
K Anderson 18:39
Yeah, yeah. ever clean once it’s been up your asshole
Boogaloo Stu 18:43
washed on 95 degrees, a polyester and lurex on the perfectly. I mean, there wasn’t that many songs that went to the charity shop. But son definitely did. I mean, there was an error. I’m sure we spoke about it before on the previous previous time I was on your podcast about when that’s actually all I wore for a few years was tiny, tiny little knickers and little tops. You know, that was my look. And those costumes did go off in a very small box. Because they were so small, to the charity shop and they used to do a display in the Marie Curie Cancer Research shop in Cape Town. They would do a display when they got a new consignment of secondhand Boogaloos do costumes. They’d saved them all for Pride Week and then they do a big loose do pride window. And as far as I know, they sold it all. I don’t know. Maybe they decided just to quietly put the thongs in the bin. I don’t know. But they were in the window on the mannequin.
K Anderson 19:42
You’ve made that’s it? Yeah, I really made it myself. So then have you ever seen anyone out and about with your old songs? knows no,
Boogaloo Stu 19:52
I mean, that would be that would be really weird. Someone did steal a costume from me once when I was It was audio in Brighton. And it was dynamite Boogaloo. And I went through a phase of having costumes that I could rip off. So I had sort of tail coat and sort of trousers, the tail coat came over, obviously very easily. And then the trousers had velcro all down the side panels. So I could just pull them off at the middle stripper style, you know, and underneath had had matching like knickers and little vest with a tie, or some, you know, some kind of look underneath those two items. And I remember I discarded those items on the stage. And then at the end of the show, I couldn’t find them, like the security who were flunking the stage, they were like, we wouldn’t see them wherever they’re gone. And someone had taken the tail coat and trousers. And then the weirdest thing happened, like weeks went by, and someone brought them back to The Club. Like anonymously handed a bag over the way you paid your money at the tail gave handed this bag over and it was my costume inside. I don’t know what they’ve done with it. In the meantime, if they’d been, I mean, it was clean. So I don’t know it wasn’t soiled. Did
K Anderson 21:10
the velcro feel more worn? Maybe they just had lots of fun.
Boogaloo Stu 21:14
I don’t remember it. I just whoever took it maybe just got a thriller of the moment of being able to nick it, you know, and they didn’t know what to do with it because it was a really quite a flamboyant look. And if they’d worn it does a high lottery chance someone would have would have recognised it as maybe being mine. I don’t know. So see, this
K Anderson 21:35
is why I could never do cabaret stuff, where you pull things off and throw them to the side because I would just be paranoid the entire time that someone was going to steal it. Like whenever I watch videos of American drag queens, and people they’re throwing dollars at them. I’m like, like, pick up the dollar. Yeah, like don’t just leave them there, pick them up, someone’s gonna take them. And I just get a bit distracted by that.
Boogaloo Stu 21:59
Yeah, absolutely I do. I do wonder from the world of Burlesque how they managed to keep all their costume bits together, because part of the fun of doing that kind of act is being able to fling it in an indiscriminate direction and make it look as if you’re flinging it in the middle of nowhere. But I guess a lot of venues for people to run around stage managers to run around picking things up. We didn’t have a stage, we weren’t lucky enough to the stage manager audio. It was just the security by the side of the stage to stop stage invasions.
K Anderson 22:32
So before we move on, I want to talk to you about thong wear-age. Wear it just wear it you weren’t wearing thongs? Yes. Are you a fan of wearing thongs?
Boogaloo Stu 22:44
Well, not anymore. That era has passed. I’m still doing a lot of work on my ass. You know, trying to keep myself in shape and trying to make sure that my glutes and my you know that my body is in fairly decent shape. It’s not what it once was. I keep it largely covered up.
K Anderson 23:05
Oh, okay. No. So so I’m not necessarily talking about Boogaloo stew here. I’m talking about stew. Oh, right.
Boogaloo Stu 23:10
No, oh, no. Oh, no,
K Anderson 23:15
there is there is like small but vocal group of people who are really into thongs and I can’t understand that.
Boogaloo Stu 23:24
No, I mean, I can see, you know, to each their own i It’s the thumb just isn’t for me in my day to day life. No, definitely not. Because what
K Anderson 23:33
is the appeal, just like that there’s something up there.
Boogaloo Stu 23:38
I don’t know. I mean, you can see the point of a jockstrap or something like that. But I think a thong in a day where situation is just, it’s too impractical. It’s like, I’ve often said it on stage. It’s like a cheese wire slicing through pork is it’s like it’s not something just to be kind of accepted as day wear, because you’d find yourself in a bit of bother. I think over time, you get so much chafing, in quite an uncomfortable place. So
K Anderson 24:06
yeah, but I mean, maybe if it’s like the only attention that part of your body’s getting, that’s where
Boogaloo Stu 24:12
it Yeah, yeah, I guess that’s if that’s what you’re after, then go for it.
K Anderson 24:19
But the other thing like on a practical note, when I am going to be performing, I get very, like nervous, which makes me very poopy, which means that I’m pooping. Yeah, I think I wouldn’t be able to wear a jockstrap for that reason.
Boogaloo Stu 24:42
Did that ever happen to you? You might have to wear a jockstrap you wouldn’t. Sorry, I thought the jockstrap will be ideal. No, no. I mean, I don’t suffer from stage fright in that way. No I might get nervous, but it doesn’t manifest itself at the back door.
K Anderson 25:07
Oh, well then how do you like let it go?
Boogaloo Stu 25:13
I mean, it’s, it doesn’t want to come out there. I don’t feel sick. And I don’t feel like I’m gonna shake my pants. But I do get sort of butterflies in my stomach. You know that kind of?
K Anderson 25:24
Yeah. Well, I always just thought that the butterflies led to the poop because they were like, in your stomach.
Boogaloo Stu 25:30
I guess it might for some people. I can’t think that I’ve ever been close to shitting myself. No, no. Interesting. But so for that reason, the song has always been ideal for
K Anderson 25:45
me. Okay, all right, we’ll see. And this is why I’ve just never got into cabaret for that one reason.
Boogaloo Stu 25:55
I mean, it’s not obligatory that you’re doing.
K Anderson 25:59
Oh, really? Oh, that’s what I thought.
Boogaloo Stu 26:01
That’s where you’ve been going wrong.
K Anderson 26:07
Okay, so we’re here today to talk about the yoke bar. Yes. And I wanted to take us back to that moment in time. For a little context for anyone who’s listening. So chunky, chunky was within London’s West End at the polar bear. It was this really big night and cult, many people even say. And then at one point, management changed at the polar bear, things changed. And you were no longer going to be there. That’s right. Yes. And you had to look for another venue. What? What was that? Like?
Boogaloo Stu 26:45
It was always quite a small club, you know, chunky, chunky, it was always busy. But we had quite a compact following compared to some of the contemporaries that were around at the same time, like pop stars. So we had to find somewhere that was around the same size. And I suppose, you know, it’s quite hard to remember. I mean, we’re going back 15 years. But I seem to remember really struggling to find somewhere in the West End had the late licence that had the right size of venue that had a little stage, you know, all the kinds of requirements that I had, and also on a Friday or Saturday night that they had a night available for us. So I ended up I had to look further afield, and the out bar was far from ideal because it was literally in the back of beyond for most people. It’s really hard to get anyone to come up from South London, to, you know, green lanes and Stoke Newington. So it was a lovely venue, but it was really in the wrong location. But I was really stymied by what was available to me in the West End at that time. So yeah, we ended up moving further out because of that, and I can’t actually remember how I ended up going there, or how I, maybe someone had recommended it to me or something. I’m not really sure. But I’d never actually been to the oak bar. And so I went up to meet Jackie, who was running it at that time. And she was like, oh, yeah, come and come and do it here. So we did.
K Anderson 28:17
And so what sold you to the oak bar,
Boogaloo Stu 28:21
I think, as I said, it had those ingredients, it had a little stage, it was about the right size. Obviously, it wasn’t in the ideal location. So it kind of ticked a few boxes. It didn’t tick every box, but it ticked a few boxes, and it was the best I felt I could achieve in terms of decent venues. So it wasn’t anything other than that. Really. There was no big decision made behind the scenes about business or anything like that. Will it be good for business? It’s like that’s the last thing I was thinking about. And it’s the same with everything that I do. Will it be good for business is the last thing on my mind
K Anderson 29:00
to what’s the first thing when
Boogaloo Stu 29:02
am I going to have fun? Suppose or will people who come have fun? Or will it keep people happy? Will it you know what I mean? I’ve never thinking about money particularly when I do things that’s a byproduct which is quite nice sometimes if it works out. Yeah, but it’s never my first day.
K Anderson 29:23
Okay. And then so I know you’ve said it’s 15 years ago, so details of some what foggy but do you remember the first night that chunky chunky was at the yoke bar?
Boogaloo Stu 29:38
No, no, don’t do not I can’t actually remember how long we were there. I think it might have been two years. So we probably would have done like 20 parties there something like that. But I can’t remember the first night.
K Anderson 29:52
Do you remember like the lead up to the first night? No,
Boogaloo Stu 29:57
I mean, I remember what I do remember is What I remember if my career in general at that point is that I was doing everything. I was the performer. I got stuck in in DJ as well. But I was also behind the scenes, I was essentially producing and promoting the events as well. So from my point of view, I would be like dropping flyers around all the gay bars in central London, putting up posters chatting to the staff and saying, Well, you put fliers on tables. For me.
K Anderson 30:28
That’s like the scariest thing ever.
Boogaloo Stu 30:30
Yeah. But they got to know me. And they either liked me and would do it. Or they shut the flyers in the bin when I saw I was doing all that. And then obviously, we continued the traditions of giving out badges and hula hoops, and Minnie Mouse lollies and all the kinds of treats that we used to give at the polar bear. And we continue doing that. So again, one of my other jobs was to drive to Asda on the way and buy loads of crisps and stuff like that. Make 150 badges or 250 badges with obscene slogans. So behind the scenes, that was the lead up to it was doing all that stuff. And then getting into the venue getting ready and having a good night, hopefully. And, yeah, so so it was like, just me basically doing the production side of things as well as actually fronting the night as it were. And that’s what I remember about the whole my whole career at that time. I didn’t even realise that people did that for a living, you know, producers, you know, show producers event producers. It didn’t cross my mind that I was I was doing two jobs, essentially. And that if I’d had a partner in Shinki, shonky who was taking care of all of that they could have taken that burden. And I could have focused more on doing maybe a better show.
K Anderson 31:48
Would you have been able to give that up?
Boogaloo Stu 31:50
Probably. Yeah, I think so. I mean, as I say, it was just part of my, it’s just what I was doing at that time. It’s just, to me, it was just what I did. But if someone had said come along and said I could do that for you. I might have said yes,
K Anderson 32:05
you might. Yeah, I mean, and the reason I asked that question is I’m a very, like, I need to know everything. I need to do everything I need to be on top of everything, kind of person. And so I wonder,
Boogaloo Stu 32:15
I’m still a bit like that. No, I mean, with the projects I have done in recent years, and the ones that I’ve got coming up. I still I do you delegate a lot of stuff. But I still like to interfere. still like to put your finger in the pie, right? Yeah, I like to get my finger right in the pie. Absolutely.
K Anderson 32:37
Thinking of that time in your career and doing all of the work. And also thinking about the statement you made earlier about deciding to do things based on whether or not it’s going to be fun. Did doing all of those things. suck some of the joy out of it?
Boogaloo Stu 32:58
A little bit, I think, I think over my sort of clubbing career as a club entrepreneur, slash promoter slash performer. I suppose I was doing dynamite Boogaloo in Brighton for a few years before I started doing clubs in London. But when I started in London, it was me Miss high leg kick and our friend Marie who had a character called Sid skill. And the three of us we decided we wanted to sort of start chunky chunky, just purely because we like being idiotic and really stupid and having fun and showing off. And again, the idea behind it wasn’t to like, make money as a promoter or anything like that. It was really just about having a laugh and thinking of the stupid things that we could do on stage, little sketches, or whatever it was, and also playing good music. So it was a kind of balance of two things. And so we started a club in East London, it was at the London apprentice, which is now 333
K Anderson 33:57
Yeah, on all
three still there.
K Anderson 33:59
I didn’t know the building is.
Boogaloo Stu 34:01
Yeah, so actually, I’m lying. It had just turned into 333 when we did this night called shattered a bar.
K Anderson 34:10
Okay, that that’s not very good, gullible
Boogaloo Stu 34:13
So got a BB A, D, A, B, H, I think Shabbat and again, it was just stupid nonsense that we we were just speaking nonsense words that came under named chunky chunky came from the same sort of nonsense way of talking Shabbat about, we’d say it to each other and we’d say, why don’t we do a club and I called Shabbat a bar. So we did this club night at 333. And it was rubbish. I mean, it was terrible. But we had fun, you know? I mean, we were just like, we did a little stage show lip synching to adverts and we’d made loads of stupid props that we use to miss high leg kick, did a leg kick and I played some music and it was there was probably only about eight people there or something. It was like really diabolical. And this is the In the era when that part of the stand, you know, Shoreditch area was it wasn’t crying. It was just it was just at the very, very start of that process where it became a hotbed of creativity. And everyone suddenly wanted to pile in there and be part of it. We were just before all that happened. So there was no one there. Well,
K Anderson 35:20
there were eight people there. Let’s not, let’s not discount them. Totally. Yeah.
Boogaloo Stu 35:25
I think we did three or four. There. Again, that was once a month and we were slotted in I think they gave us a Sunday night, which didn’t help really, because it wasn’t a good night to be doing. too messy. Can you know, and then we sort of tried to find it where we found a new venue at the tube, which later became ghetto. That’s when we started doing chunky chunky and it was once a week it was on a Monday night. I think that’s marginally better than a Sunday. And Monday.
K Anderson 35:54
So how did you get from Chevra? dooba? dooba dooba to Shinki xiangqi?
Boogaloo Stu 35:58
Do you mean in terms of the gibberish Yeah,
K Anderson 36:00
the name how did the name
Boogaloo Stu 36:02
I don’t know. I mean, it’s just literally it’s just the way we spoke to each other with stupid nonsense words poopy Shusha Shepard about chunky chunky, it’s just like nonsense.
K Anderson 36:12
How did you then I get that it’s nonsense. And I’m totally on board with it being nonsense. But what’s the decision making process by like, by changing? Sorry, sorry that that makes it sound very formal. But from going from Shabba doo doo I got it wrong. But that name tishie Chunky. Like, why did it change?
Boogaloo Stu 36:30
I just I guess we just wanted to rebrand it because shattered a bar hadn’t been a huge success. So we realised that shattered a bar was was it was dead in the water. And it needed to be rebranded as chunky chunky.
K Anderson 36:45
So why didn’t you go with poopoo Shasha?
Boogaloo Stu 36:47
No, I’ve got no idea. I mean, again, it goes so far back, though, that I just literally can’t remember. I mean, we’re talking about 1997. So that’s 25 years ago, it just felt good. I went to see Brian Mason, who was who owned the Astoria at that time. And he owned a ghetto as well. Well, the tube and as it was then, somehow, I ended up in his office to discuss during a club night on a Monday night, the tube. So I must have, I don’t know, I don’t know how that came about. I can’t remember someone must have said, Oh, you should go and see Brian from the Astoria. He’d give you an I don’t know. But yeah, we ended up there. And he gave us the night puts in there. And it tipped over for a few months, until we then got a better offer of like Friday night, the polar bear. And that’s when it became a proper, busy, popular night that people could come to because they didn’t have work the next day that made all the difference. That was the kind of lineage but there’s gaps in my memory in terms of how I made those decisions to move it to the West End, rename it. rebrand it. What was the original question?
K Anderson 38:00
But my follow up question is you talked about the night. Shabbat, Shabbat about. I’m so sorry. I might write this. I’m gonna write this. You’ve got
Boogaloo Stu 38:11
to stay with it sort of ravenous and Shabbat? Shabbat that’s it? Yeah.
K Anderson 38:16
Shabbat, Shabbat about Okay. So how so shadow? What was my question Chabot about right. You talked about that starting off with two other people? Yeah. How did it come to be that it was just you taking it forward?
Boogaloo Stu 38:29
Well, I was always the one who had said I would you know, promote it and DJ and kind of organise even then I was kind of saying that I’d kind of organise it. So that’s it was it was kind of my thing. And Murray, who was said skill, had a job as a writer anyway. So he, he would dip in and out of it. He was he was happy to come along to rehearsal for a crazy bit of Cabaret, but wasn’t a kind of integral part of how it was running. And the same from his high leg kick as well, really. The two of us spent a lot more time preparing the cabaret and working on that. And I would I would take care of all the the other aspects such as promoting it. And you know who was going to DJ I would DJ and I’d have guest DJs as
K Anderson 39:11
well. So did having them on board. Just kind of give you the courage to keep doing. I suppose it did. Yeah. Yeah. So you didn’t get all like I’m doing everything. Why isn’t anyone else pulling their weight?
Boogaloo Stu 39:23
Wasn’t like that about it? No, I think because I’d already been doing it in Brighton for a couple of years with dynamite Boogaloo. I kind of knew enough about how to the mechanic make things, the mechanics of running it and making it happen. Whereas maybe they didn’t. They weren’t in that world. So it was just a natural thing that it felt to me to take care of those aspects. And I suppose by the time chunky chunky ended up at the Oak bar. It hadn’t become like a drag. It hadn’t become like a job. But it had become a are a bit more of a pattern of events and a bit more of a routine. The spontaneity had maybe ebbed away a little bit, you know. So it ended up monthly, and then it just kind of, I can’t even remember why we stopped to the out bar. That’s a weird thing. My memory of it is so kind of vague, and I can’t remember the opening night there. I know, we were down for a couple of years. And then I really can’t remember thinking about it. We ended up leaving that. I remember how to get.
K Anderson 40:32
And I’m a bit nervous to ask this question, because you don’t remember anything from this time. But you can try. Why? Like, yeah, why did it come to an end at the Oak bar? Oh, my God.
Boogaloo Stu 40:48
I mean, this is it. I actually don’t remember. Do you think? I think Jackie who ran it? I think maybe she left. And I wasn’t sure about who was coming in to replace her. I? I really don’t remember, it may have been. There was a few nights where we had a pretty low attendance. Mostly it was pretty decent, occasionally very busy. And there was probably a couple of nights where it wasn’t that great. It might have been like feeling that. Am I flogging a dead horse here? I actually can’t remember. It’s really weird. There’s there’s a bit of a grey area, in my memory from 90 from about 2007 to 2009. I think that’s when we were there. I think it was a two year period around that time. And I don’t really remember. I mean, it had its day, you know, we had a kind of glorious period from probably 9098 Until about 2004 2005. Maybe even right up until 2007. Almost a 10 year run of have amazing fun every week at the polar bear. So the fact that it kind of fizzled a bit there. It’s not the end of the world for me, but it’s a strange one because I really can’t remember why we stopped it. I just don’t have an answer. So maybe maybe someone listening if people who listened to your last podcast that used to come to chunky chunky and if they do listen to this one, maybe they’ll have a memory of it different to how I remember it, you know, because I’m sure we must have had a last party there. We must have had a closing. But I don’t. I don’t remember it.
K Anderson 42:34
So I wanted to ask you. And like feel free to pick yourself up in response to this question. Right? Like, don’t be humble with me. Why do you think? Actually, let me just let me do a little preamble before the question. When I published the episode, from our last conversation about chunky chunky at the polar bear, there was such a big response and such a warmth from people who were really excited to hear your story about that night and had lots of their own memories about it. Why do you think it is such a cult now? And why do you think it still resonates with people?
Boogaloo Stu 43:20
I suppose it was because it was.
K Anderson 43:28
It was fun. But it can’t just be that. No,
Boogaloo Stu 43:31
I think it was honest. Fun. I think it was unpretentious. And it was It wasn’t about drugs. I mean, there may have been people who were there on drugs. But generally speaking, it wasn’t about drugs. It wasn’t about taking a top off and showing your muscles. It was about real kind of people. There was no aspiration to be, you know, as I say pretentious or aloof or anything like that. It was we were giving people permission to be idiots by being idiots, ourselves. And I think that is it’s like being a child again. Being given that permission, you can misbehave and be stupid and no one’s going to judge you and I think that’s what a lot of people got from it.
K Anderson 44:17
Do you have memories of chunky chunky either when it was at the black cap the polar bear or the oak bar? Or do you have memories from your own cuisine that you want to share? Well, if you do, please get in touch. I want to create the biggest online record of people’s memories and stories of queer clubbing, go to LA spaces podcast.com and find the section share a lost space and tell me all about what it is you got up to. You can also reach out to me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. My handle across all three is law Oster spaces pod, find out more about Bogalusa Do you by giving his website a little visit Boogaloo? stew.co.uk Or alternatively, you can follow him on Instagram his handle is at Boogaloo stew. Law spaces is not only about gas about it is a concept record as well. I have been writing songs about queer venues and the people who used to live their lives there and we’ll be releasing songs over the coming year. You can hear the first single which is called well groomed boys and is playing underneath my talking right this very second on all good streaming platforms. If you enjoyed this episode, I would really appreciate if you subscribed, left a review on your podcast platform or just told people who you think might be interested in giving it a we listen to. I am gay Anderson and you have been listening to the last spaces