• Paul Burston

Twist In My Sobriety

Like many people, I’ve really missed live performance – both as a spectator and as a producer / performer. Last month, Polari returned to Heaven. It was our first physical live show this year – and my first time on stage since I stopped drinking on January 1. And it went well. Better than well. It was a triumph. And I didn’t miss the booze at all. No “Dutch courage” before going on stage. No “celebratory drink” afterwards. I spent the whole night stone cold sober – and it was wonderful.


Actually, there’s a problem with that choice of words. “Stone cold” sounds so negative. It’s a term we also use to describe dead bodies. Whereas we talk about alcohol livening us up, calming our nerves, boosting our confidence. These all sound so positive, when for some of us they’re anything but. For me, there’s a clarity in being sober on stage which doesn’t feel cold at all. If anything, I’m warmer. I feel more present, more relaxed. Call it being truly in the moment. Call it what you want. For me, it works. There’s a twist in my sobriety I didn’t see coming. And I’m truly grateful for it.


Earlier this month, Polari returned to The RVT, where my guests were Adèle Anderson of Fascinating Aïda fame and Cerys Evans – both trans women who write and perform, the first of whom I’ve known for over 30 years. Cerys I first met at a creative writing workshop Karen McLeod and I ran in Cardiff some seven years ago. She’s performed at Polari several times since. Adèle had performed with us twice before – once as a speaker and once as a singer.



With Cerys Evans and Adèle Anderson


They both gave great performances at The RVT, and the on-stage conversation that followed was all the better for the fact that the host wasn’t inebriated or slurring his words, as has been known to happen in the past.


We have two more live, physical events coming up next month. On July 21, we’ll be at G-A-Y Bar in Manchester with performances from Barbara Brownskirt, Rosie Garland, Adam Lowe and Paul Magrs. Early bird tickets are on sale now and selling fast.


And on July 28, we’re back at Heaven with a very special lineup, including our 2020 Polari Prize winner Kate Davies, poet Keith Jarrett, authors Paul Mendez and Golnoosh Nour and musical stars Helen Sheals and Emma Dears, who’ll be performing extracts from their critically-acclaimed show as gay icons Judy Garland and Liza Minnelli. And as if that wasn’t sufficient cause for celebration, we’ll also be announcing this year’s Polari Prize shortlists. Early bird tickets are on sale now.



*Please note - Liza will not be performing her 1988 cover of Twist In My Sobriety. But I’m going to listen to it now.








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