Amid the monotonous day-to-day slog of this international pandemic is a sequined beacon of hope. Sophie Ellis-Bextor, everyone’s favourite posh pop princess, has blessed us with a myriad of glossy floorfillers since the turn of the century and has made a seamless transition from disco diva to chic yummy mummy. But now, she is providing a vital service to all us holed-up hermits during this crisis. Every Friday, viewers can tune in via Instagram and kick-start their weekend with her Kitchen Disco, where the singer performs her hits live from her home with all the camp and theatricality of a summer pantomime and a similar prevalence of kids to boot.
We are now six weeks into quarantine – don’t worry, I haven’t learned a language or lost any weight either – which means that Ellis-Bextor has established a solid formula. As always, the camera zooms out from a spinning disco ball to the sound of ethereally layered harps to reveal an open-plan kitchen fit for a spread in Architectural Digest. After indulging your Cath Kidston fantasy for just a moment, Ellis-Bextor then launches into ‘China Heart’, a pumping, rarely-performed track from her 2007 album ‘Trip The Light Fantastic’ and a huge treat for diehard fans. To accompany proceedings, her children, with ages ranging from 2-15, race in-and-out of shot, running riot and letting off a rabid month-long build-up of steam.
If Studio 54 had operated a crèche, it would probably look like this. There is knee-sliding, bouncing babies and toddlers relentlessly flinging themselves off any piece of furniture they can climb. Five-year-old Jesse’s makeup, a fabulous intersection of drag queen and tribal warrior, perfectly encapsulates the glitzy yet anarchic fun of the Kitchen Disco. What’s more, Mother Sophie’s is masterful in her role as herder on the dancefloor, making sure her flock is in check while keeping the show rolling. Unexpectedly, this livestream has awakened a desire in me for a Mary Poppins rewritten by Giorgio Moroder.
Throughout Kitchen Disco staple, ‘Take Me Home’ (or, as aptly renamed, ‘Stay At Home’), Ellis-Bextor shines brightest. Not only does she solidify her status as a gay icon with her peppy take on a much-loved Cher classic, but also her dry asides wittily captures the mood of a nation in lockdown. “Stay at home, stay at home/I know another place to be,” she sings before shooting a knowing look, “I do but I’m not allowed to go to it”.
The chanteuse then glides effortlessly through her noughties gems ‘Mixed Up World’, ‘Groovejet’ and a superb cover of ‘Like a Prayer’. At one point, poised atop her bay window seat like a festival headliner, she exudes star power as she lists her week’s achievements: broken her bone; cut some fringes; hung a disco ball in the garden.
“I can’t wait to see you little faces, you know,” she exclaims, swishing her ponytail as she two-steps along her pinewood floor. In this moment, I am one of the Ellis-Bextor brood, the absent son. With the opening finger-snaps of her megahit, ‘Murder On The Dancefloor’, she thanks her audience, telling us how much she needed to perform this week. No Sophie, it is us who need you!
The camera pans to show husband and The Feeling bassist, Richard Jones, donning a glittery blazer and a rubber rhino mask. A wall stencil behind him can be seen which reads “our true intent is all for your delight”. After 25 minutes of pure unadulterated joy I would argue that, for maintaining the mental wellbeing of the population through the medium of disco, Sophie Ellis-Bextor is indeed an essential worker. I, for one, will be giving a rapturous applause this Thursday at 8pm for the true queen of quarantine.
Featured image via Nottingham Post