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Ahead of next week’s Big Gay Sing, Lauren Mur­phy finds out why singing in a group is so good for you

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - COVER STORY -

It usu­ally starts as a faint mouthing of words un­der­neath the breath, ris­ing to fully-formed sen­tences be­fore steadily build­ing to a cat­er­waul­ing cli­max that threat­ens to drown out the per­former. We’ve all been there. Whether it’s within the hushed con­fines of a can­dle­light club or dur­ing the qui­eter mo­ments of a sta­dium gig, there is al­ways at least one tone-deaf punter who be­lieves they can out-sing the band.

Now, those of a spot­light- usurp­ing propen­sity have their chance, thanks to a gig tak­ing place in Dublin this month. The Big Gay Sing, a joint ven­ture staged by Glória, Dublin’s Gay and Les­bian Choir, and the New York City Gay Men’s Cho­rus, en­cour­ages – nay, in­sists upon – crowd par­tic­i­pa­tion. Es­sen­tially a glo­ri­fied karaoke ses­sion with the help of com­mu­nity choirs The Line Up and The Soul­ful, the one-off event is a fundraiser for the Mar­riage Equal­ity cam­paign and will be com­pered on the night by Panti.

Damien Dempsey is one mu­si­cian who doesn’t mind con­tri­bu­tions from his au­di­ence – if you’re not singing along at a Damo show, he says, you’re do­ing it wrong. “I’ve been say­ing it for years,” he says. “If you sit down on your bed, or even the bath­room for half an hour and sing your favourite songs – type out the lyrics if you don’t know the lyrics – you’ll feel a hun­dred times bet­ter. Good doc­tors are now say­ing to people that they should join a choir in­stead of tak­ing Prozac. Singing re­ally does lift your heart, lift your spir­its. That’s why I en­cour­age people to do it at shows, be­cause when you walk out of the show it’s like you’ve gone to the gym and had a work­out. [That’s

The best of both worlds: a big cheesy cho­rus and dra­matic break­down that builds to an epic wig-out. Ban­danas at the ready… how] I feel af­ter a gig, any­way.”

But what is it about com­mu­nal singing in par­tic­u­lar that is so good for the soul?

“Get­ting to sing with a group of people ev­ery week is bril­liant fun and it’s un­be­liev­ably ther­a­peu­tic,” says Aoife Sav­age of The Line-Up. Along with its sis­ter choir The Soul­ful – both non-au­di­tion com­mu­nity choirs – it was founded in 2012 in or­der to bring to­gether people who love singing for the sheer joy of it.

“I would def­i­nitely say that be­ing in the choir has af­fected my life in a pos­i­tive way,” says Sav­age. “Be­ing able to go along to re­hearsals and sing and for­get about ev­ery­thing for a cou­ple of hours is the best way of un­wind­ing. There hasn’t been a re­hearsal where I’ve left and not been in a bet­ter mood.”

The role that the Big Gay Sing will play in the Mar­riage Equal­ity cam­paign is im­por­tant, al­though Glória’s chair­per­son Barry Dowling in­sists that the em­pha­sis on the night will be placed firmly on fun, rather than pol­i­tics.

“This is our op­por­tu­nity to say ‘Look, if you sup­port Mar­riage Equal­ity, buy a ticket’,” Dowling says. “But we won’t be shov­ing any of that down any­one’s throat – it’s about giv­ing the au­di­ence a fab­u­lous night out. You’ll be up dancing and singing, and you’ll get the op­por­tu­nity to sup­port Mar­riage Equal­ity and a vote for equal­ity, so it’s a win-win, in our eyes. But more than any­thing else, it’s go­ing to be an unashamed cel­e­bra­tion of show­tunes and pop songs. It’ll be great craic.” The ul­ti­mate em­pow­er­ment song that works for both sexes. Dra­matic fin­ger-wag­ging op­tional. Can go ei­ther way; if the singer is adept enough to pull of Fred­die’s the­atri­cal vo­cal stylings, all well and good. If not, you’re in for a loooooong six min­utes. Time­less pop plus the ex­cuse to show off your moon­walk? Ev­ery­one’s a win­ner (un­less you can’t moon­walk – then it’s just a win­ner for your au­di­ence.) As far as cheesy duets go, it’s hard to top this guilty, Greasy plea­sure. Danny & Sandy 4eva.

The Big Gay Sing: Dublin is at the Bórd Gáis En­ergy Theatre on June 15th. Read Rory O’Neill, aka Panti Bliss, on the Big Gay Sing on the Life page in to­day’s Ir­ish Times

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