It’s been quite the week in Hebden Bridge as Happy Valley Pride hit town. Strange as it is, for what is possibly one of the most LGBT inclusive towns in the land, Hebden Bridge has only had a Pride for three years but are making a sizeable impression on the UK Pride scene.
Hebden Bridge has never played by the rules and Happy Valley Pride is the go-to alternative Pride with cabaret and club nights rather than reality TV stars and one hit wonders.
Here are my highlights of this year’s week of fun in the hills
Monday Night Social
Things kicked off in style at the Old Gate with local heroes Logan and Manley giving us a belting set ending with a bit of Chaka Khan and then Tina Turner. The turnout was great and you could easily forget it was a Monday night. I’m sure there were some party casualties the next day and a hangover on a Tuesday is not a laughing matter.
Art Exhibition and Auction
Hebden is a community known for its art so when a charity auction is announced, it is advisable to get yourself down there. Many local artists donated pieces for the event and a lot of us got some absolute bargains, myself included.
This is a cornerstone of the Happy Valley Pride week and long may it reign, the standard of art was phenomenal.
This is the Divine version people and what a special night we had in the gorgeous Hebden Bridge Picture House which was transformed, for one night only, into our very own Corny Collins Show.
One of the many things I love about this town is enthusiasm for an event. Halloween parade? No problem. Burlesque festival? Let me just get changed. So of course they dusted off their 50s style dresses and tripped the light fantastic to the fabulous DJ Red Helen’s tunes. Helen didn’t leave it there and held a dance class to the Madison dance made popular in the movie and I have to say, the crowd picked it up pretty well.
Sometimes music can be magic and there was most definitely something in the air on the Friday night in the Hope Baptist Chapel as the mesmerising Camille O’Sullivan took to the stage. It was incredible how she took on different personas in front of our very eyes, one minute she was making us laugh with raucous rock, the next there wasn’t a dry eye in the house as she sang mournful ballads. She reworked some of the best from David Bowie to Nick Cave to Goldfrapp.
The constant was her wonderful personality and skilled working of the audience. We were so very lucky to see her in such an intimate venue and I will definitely go to her next performance which is anywhere near me.
Big Day Out
Glinda the Good Witch, Roman Centurions and kilted dancers kicked off the Big Day Out on Saturday. The sun shone and the whole town came alive for Pride. It was such a brilliant day with an Expo at the Town Hall and Peter Tatchell and Kate O’Donnell appearing at the Little Theatre as well as more bands than you could shake a stick at on the main stage.
One of the best things about Happy Valley Pride are the town’s shop windows, they become a gallery of creativity with nearly all businesses getting involved in the celebration. Check out the Instagram (@happyvalleypride) to choose your favourites.
The other thing I love about Happy Valley Pride is the appeal, grandparents dance alongside kids, dogs dance with their owners, everyone is out for a good time and no-one is left behind.
London powerhouse Duckie came to the Trades in Hebden and what a night it was. Hosted by cabaret superstars Bourgeois and Maurice, the Readers Wives provided a brilliant disco soundtrack whilst acts such as Barbara Brownskirt and Ursula Martinez provided entertainment. There was even a badge making area. What more do you need?
The heat was turned up to full capacity in that place but no-one seemed to bother, Hebden folk + dancefloor = perfect combination.
Pink Picnic & Dog Show
On Sunday morning we all peered through the curtains, the weather forecast had been abysmal all week and the only event under real threat was the picnic. We may be Brits, we may live in Yorkshire but strength of character might fail with a torrential downpour just as we’re tucking into our sandwiches. As luck would have it, not one drop of rain fell, it may have been a bit cloudy, but it didn’t dampen our spirits.
Once again Hebden came out in full force and played the human fruit machine, had their faces painted and entered their four legged friends into the dog show perfectly hosted by DJ Red Helen and judged by Mayor Councillor Dr Carol Stow (who has been a wonderful supporter of the festival all week) and festival patron Peter Tatchell.
Sadly, once the last doggie treat was given out and the raffle was drawn, it was over for another year. If you missed this year’s festivities, fear not for we will be back next year. If you did attend this year, what was your favourite bit? My personal favourite was manning the merchandise stall, there is a frustrated shopkeeper buried deep inside this writer persona, I’m sure of it.
Let me know in the comments or on social media about your highlights. For all information regarding Happy Valley Pride, our monthly socials and news on next year’s events, visit www.happyvalleypride.com