If you do not know what The Cocoa Butter Club is, quite frankly, in my opinion, you have been living under a rock. Sadie Sinner, singer, host and founder of The Cocoa Butter Club describes it as “a platform to showcase and celebrate performers of colour, aka non-white performers. Under-representation of bodies of colour is something that there is in performance.” When I attended The Cocoa Butter Club for the first time last summer, I immediately felt like I was in a safe space. I caught up with Sadie over the phone for what felt like a catch up with an old friend.
The Cocoa Butter Club had their first show nearly 18 months ago at Her Upstairs in Camden Town. Sadie explains that The Cocoa Butter Club “was a bi-product of various different things”. A friend of hers had opened a new venue and offered The Cocoa Butter Club space and a residency, The Cocoa Butter Club is now held on a monthly basis with special shows and appearances throughout the year.
Sadie has been performing since she was a child, starting singing classes at a young age, joining a punk band in university and getting into cabaret in 2012. Sadie describes performing as, self-care for her soul. “It’s so intimate when I sing at The Cocoa Butter Club because of the selection of songs and the space itself makes me feel like a little child in my room. Music is really healing, sometimes I touch people in the audience without my hands.”
We discussed why it was important to create a space specifically for people of colour with performers of colour taking center stage. “It’s important to have The Cocoa Butter Club because it is such a different feeling when you see a version of yourself on stage, you just feel really included in the experience”, says Sadie. “We are able to inspire and we have practical evidence of that. Someone came to our launch and she fell in love with burlesque and wanted to know where she could learn it. I referred her to a friend of mine who taught burlesque and six months later she performed at The Cocoa Butter Club. Growing up I thought I was going to be the first black burlesque performer ever, I didn’t know that there were already black burlesque performers.”
There is no shortage of performers of colour, Sadie does not struggle to find people to perform,“it is not difficult to find PoC performers, I am actually doing them a disservice by turning people down. I need to find a way to be more accessible. It is my goal that everyone performs at least once regardless of their ability. When it comes to programming the shows, it is important for people to see variety. Whilst I see burlesque all the time, my audience does not.”
My conversation with Sadie was interesting and enlightening, it was great to hear her talk about The Cocoa Butter Club with such enthusiasm and sheer excitement. It is so important for people of colour to create our own platforms because our stories belong to us and we are the best people to tell them.
To wrap up our lovely conversation, I asked Sadie to describe The Cocoa Butter Club in three words. She says it is; “unconventional, beautiful and unapologetic”. I couldn’t agree more. Sadie has big plans for the future and in order for The Cocoa Butter club to grow and showcase more performers of colour they need funding. On Saturday they will be hosting a fundraiser at Arcola Theatre and I guarantee that it’s a show you do not want to miss.
Buy tickets for The Cocoa Butter Club Spectacular at Arcola Theatre w BBZ!