Starting today - the A to Z of the Vauxhall Tavern. Every Sunday afternoon, I go to the Vauxhall Tavern for their now legendary Chill Out Session. Here's why, starting with the first letter of the alphabet, and hopefully continuing with a letter a day.
A is for Almighty Records
Without Almighty Records, the Vauxhall on a Sunday just wouldn't be the same. Some would say it would be a lot better, and I used to be one of those. I remember writing a long rant to my friend Steven about the evils of Almighty Records, how they had become the be-all and end-all of gay music, the lowest common denominator, ubiquitous in gay pubs and clubs throughout the country.
The Almighty formula is simple: taken a proven pop song, add some cheesy handclaps and some tacky keyboards, and there you have it - sure-fire queen-friendly fodder. The formula has been applied to S Club 7, Cher, Celine Dion, Kylie, Billie, Pet Shop Boys, Lolly, Geri Halliwell, A1, Roxette and Savage Garden.
A is also for Andy Almighty, the DJ responsible for foisting this lot on us, and an all-round lovely bloke: "There's nothing tacky about what we're doing," claims Andy Wetson, of the Deja Vu cover of Celine Dion's 'My Heart Will Go On'. "To take a ballad and transform it into a stomping club tune takes thought."
Well, I thought it was dreadful. Week after week, I'd snobbishly, grudgingly dance, one eyebrow raised, tongue firmly in (my own) cheek. And then one day, possibly under the influence of the fifth letter of the alphabet, I felt my right arm flinging heaven-ward to the chorus of S Club 7's "Reach!". And both arms raising involuntarily to Geri Halliwell's "Lift Me Up". And I realised that's exactly what the music was: uplifting. And on a Sunday evening, in a blacked-out shit-hole in the middle of an exhaust-fume-clogged roundabout, what more could you possibly want?
Without Almighty Records, the Vauxhall on a Sunday just wouldn't be the same.