The Fabulosa Story of Polari

This event has finished Took place on: Friday, 19th Jul 2019

The story of Polari, Britain's secret gay language

Oooohh, how bona to vada your dolly old eke! Author Paul Baker joins former Music Hall superstar Ida Barr (the comedy creation of Christopher Green) and her special guests for an evening of conversation and fun celebrating Polari, the camp language of gay men. With a saucy vocabulary including omi (man), palone (woman), lallies (legs), riah (hair), naff (awful), dish (bum), vada (look) and bona (good) Polari was used to conduct conversations in secret up until the 1960s, operating as a form of bonding and humour that helped gay people live through more oppressive times. It was popularised by Kenneth Williams and Hugh Paddick in the radio comedy series Round the Horne and since then has largely disappeared from the gay scene, viewed as silly, unfashionable and politically incorrect. However, in recent years it has been rediscovered and reappraised as an important aspect of gay social history with younger queer people using it in new ways for very different reasons to the original speakers. If you want to be able to tell your lallies from your luppers or find out why it’s never good to hear ‘nada to vada in the larder’, put on your campest drag, give your riah an extra zhoosh and troll along to the British Library for a night of games, music, reminiscences and simply fabulosa polari.

Ida Barr has graced stages at the National Theatre, Tate Modern and Britain and the Barbican, as well as livening up many a variety and comedy night around the globe. Ida’s unique take on Music Hall and Artificial Hip Hop – a mashup of the classics of that genre with the modern sounds of RnB and grime (think Rihanna with Dan Leno and Skepta with Noel Coward) – gets any audience pumped up on joie de vivre. Ida doesn’t speak polari but she’s terribly theatrical.

Paul Baker is professor of English language at Lancaster University. He has written eighteen books, including Fabulosa: The Story of Polari (2019), Sexed Texts (2008) and, with Jo Stanley, Hello Sailor! (2003). He regularly gives talks and workshops about Polari and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

Christopher Green is a multi-award-winning theatre artist. He was the first artist in residence at the British Library and curated the library’s exhibition There Will Be Fun about 19th Century popular entertainment. His book, Overpowered! The Science and Showbiz of Hypnosis was published by the British Library in 2015.

Cost: £15.00


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2019-07-19 2019-07-19 Europe/London The Fabulosa Story of Polari Author Paul Baker joins former Music Hall superstar Ida Barr (the comedy creation of Christopher Green) and her special guests for an evening of conversation and fun celebrating Polari, the camp language of gay men. https://www.ianvisits.co.uk/calendar/2019/07/19/the-fabulosa-story-of-polari-204749 The British Library,96 Euston Road, London,London,London

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Location

The British Library,

96 Euston Road, London,
London,
London,
NW1 2DB

Google Map of The British Library

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Piccadily
Metropolitan
Hammersmith & City
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Victoria
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Northern
Victoria
Mainline Terminus
Metropolitan
Hammersmith & City
Circle

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