Cachín Cachán Cachunga!
Kirstin Innes talks to the organisers of Edinburgh’s queer and trans arts extravaganza,
The spectre of funding cuts looms heavily over the Scottish arts scene at the moment. One consequence of the forthcoming age of austerity may very well be a resurgence in low-fi events: regular cabaret and variety shows offering artists who can no longer access bigger stage venues a chance to experiment in a short time slot, and audiences a chance to discover new kinds of work. Creating a performance space for yourself where there hasn’t been one before is something Sandra Alland, of ‘poetry-music-fusion group’ Zorras, is all too familiar with – in February 2009 she helped to set up Cachín Cachán Cachunga!, a mixed, vibrant night of music, film, poetry, dance and performance aimed at Edinburgh’s trans, queer and migrant communities.
‘We looked around Edinburgh and realised that there weren’t very many arts nights going on for queer and trans people, and there weren’t any doing multimedia work. So we decided to start our own,’ she explains. ‘Many migrants and trans people don’t feel welcome even in gay bars, so we set out to create a safe and celebratory space for those communities – and of course to produce an excellent arts event. Our communities are full of talented people who often don’t get the exposure they should.’
The resulting monthly event has, over the past year and a half, become something of a phenomenon. Alland and her fellow members of Zorras (Venezuelan musician Y. Josephine and Argentine filmmaker Ariadna Battich), along with Polish film artist Anna Urbanowska and Afro-Cuban dancer Lily, may have originally set up the night as an outlet for their own work, and all of them still do exhibit work every month, but the addition of well-chosen guest performers from all over the UK and farther, as well as a responsive, ever-ready audience has created something very special indeed.
‘We’ve had everything from serious documentaries and stylised ballet to gay parrot puppets and punk musicians,’ says Alland. ‘Because there’s very little funding these days, it’s common for people to play it pretty safe: try and give the public what they want. We encourage all of our acts to experiment and step out of their comfort zone a little – we recently had Manchester punk legend Ste McCabe come up and play, and he did his first ever acoustic live set with us. We’ve tried to create a safe, supportive space where that can happen and people can learn from each other: that might sound a little bit unprofessional, but we also always guarantee that our audience will get a really brilliant show: people who wander in by accident almost always come back next month.’
July’s Cachín..., featuring Alex’s Hilarious Enterprises UnLtd., Glasgow burlesque legend Miss Leggy Pee, and the writer D.F. Collier, will be the last monthly event they run: from now on, it’s going to be a quarterly happening. So, er, cachín cachán it while you can? Oh dear...
The Street, Picardy Place Edinburgh, 7.30pm, £3/£2 www.blissfultimes.ca/cachin.htm