Let me tell you about the Enigma Ball.
No, wait, hang on. I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start with our big rehearsal the following day, then we can back up a bit for the juicy stuff.
Christmas is coming, and we at DftC Towers are oh-so-ready for it. A knackering day in the rehearsal studios at Audio Underground in Stoke Newington saw us running through not just our old festive favourites like All I Want For Christmas Is You and Santa Baby, but also allowed us to work on some great new soul repertoire (including a cracking medley of several tunes that won’t let you off the dance floor for a second) and a lot of our recently-added swing numbers (including Trumpet Blues and Cantabile, a favourite – if very formally named – tune of mine) for some exciting upcoming gigs. This stuff is sounding red hot, so if you’re lucky enough to be at one of our gigs next month…well, you’ll be the envy of all of your less-fortunate friends.
The rehearsal was, as always,
great fun and full of delightful and inappropriate bandter™, but it was our gig
at Bletchley Park on the 24th November that was the real highlight
of the weekend. The Enigma Ball is an event put on by the transgender community
around Milton Keynes and masterminded by the wonderfully personable and
organised Kathy. The band’s played at two previous Balls for them and has found
it hugely enjoyable both times, but this time we rolled out the full 9-piece
band for our friends at Bletchley Park. For 4 of us (myself, Kate, Kate and
Katie – confusing, right?) that meant our first experience of the Ball, and,
well, I for one wasn’t even quite sure what to expect.
|The trumpet section gears up for Christmas|
I needn’t have worried. The Enigma Ball was genuinely one of the most fun gigs we’ve had, with a bubbly and animated crowd who rarely left the dance floor as we ran through classics like Finally and I’m Every Woman along with the specially-requested I Will Survive and that Shania Twain song that everybody secretly enjoys, Man, I Feel Like A Woman. The energy in the ballroom was immense and even by the time the end of the night rolled around it showed no signs of ebbing.
However, it wasn’t really until we got back to the band room after our final set and we had the chance to sit down and chat with Kathy for a bit that we started to really understand the significance of the evening, and what life is like for a lot of people who identify as trans. The Enigma Ball provides an event, a place, a sanctuary of sorts where people can come and be themselves, without a shred of judgement in anyone’s eyes, in the company of friends, partners, and others. One attendee, Kathy told us, was out ‘dressed’ in public with his wife for the first time. The Ball gave him the chance to do that, and offers a fantastically fun night for a lot of people for whom this sort of opportunity perhaps doesn’t come around as often as it should.
There are far too many stories about discrimination and unreasonable animosity from other people against the trans community. From subtly condemning looks in the street to a fear of reprisal upon being ‘outed’, it’s sadly hard to deny that there’s a lot of hate still out there in the world. But Kathy and the team behind the Enigma Ball deliver an evening set apart from that, where people from all walks of life can gather for a fun and relaxed evening among friends. Next time, they’re aiming for upwards of 600 guests. I say they should aim for the thousands.