When X Factor judge Gary Barlow sought to redefine the word 'cabaret' to mean 'a bit boring' the UK's cabaret community hit back with vigour.
Singing contest the X Factor returned to UK TV screens recently with their ever-popular live show taking over prime time telly to pip singing hopefuls against one another for the chance to win a recording contract.
Contestants progressing in the competition have several hurdles to jump over and have come to dread the most damning comment of all, one often made by Head Judge, Take That boy band member Gary Barlow “...it's a bit cabaret”. Cabaret to Barlow appears to mean bland, boring, banal, too much of something; not enough of something else, i.e. not very good, certainly not worthy of the coveted X Factor crown.
Barlow has missed one thing, cabaret is anything but boring and the UK's vibrant cabaret community has assembled to tell him so, in a movement known as 'Cabariot'.
Started by a rallying call from Hansel Amadeus Mannish, of cabaret superstars Frisky and Mannish (among others), Cabariot seeks to stop Mr. Barlow's misuse of 'Cabaret' and reinstate it in all of its feathered, sequined, bowler hatted, multi-faceted glory.
Not content with an internet war of words they have a song and beautifully crafted tongue in cheek video to start the ball rolling. The video sees the normally dazzling cabaret stars defrock for an XFactor makeover while singing in true singing-contest-hopeful style “say no to cabaret”.
Commenting on the Cabariot, Gentleman Juggler and renowned variety aficionado Mat Ricardo said "apparently something called a Gary Barlow had been using the word cabaret in a derogatory way. Oh dear. Seems to me that someone who's supposed to have their chubby little finger on the pulse of entertainment should know that cabaret is where much of the cool, interesting, new, edgy, fun stuff happens these days... we're rallying the cabaret troops. And boy, do we like a fight. We're scrappy."
In covering the video's recording at 'Cabarati HQ' aka Bethnal Green Working Men's Club, London's Time Out magazine stated “It’s all in good fun but rooted in a serious point about smearing a valid art form”.
Given the ever-increasing popularity of the genre, with shows of all shapes and sizes taking place across the country, cabaret stars appearing on mainstream TV, the UK's cabaret scene is in good shape and, clearly, it will take more than a bashing from Barlow to stop these cabarioters.
Photography by Mat Ricardo.