It’s Valentine’s day on Sunday!! Every high street has turned a shade of red, restaurants have doubled their prices, you’ll have received a million gift idea emails/hints and whether you are tickled pink by the romance or throwing up at the thought of over sized bears and foil balloons, you can’t really avoid it. So in between the smug couples, the self lovers and anti valentines mob I’ve joined in the hullabaloo to share my twopence worth.
My Favourite Valentine
Sorry Mr Cheek but my favourite Valentine has to be my third year at University. Single and fancy free. Myself and my fellow uni girls decided to stay in the eve of Valentine’s, watch E.R. drool over George Clooney (It was 1999) and make each other Valentines Day Cards in abundance, which we proudly deposited in each other’s Pigeon Holes the following morning. Our attempt to look inundated with suitors didn’t fool anyone, but our lack of genuine admirers mattered not, we were far too in love with the celebration of each other to care. Later that night I hosted a girls only dinner and we headed out to a Valentine’s themed night. I wore a pair of boot cut, pink, faux snakeskin, hipster trousers and a black halter neck. I thought I was cool as fuck and several tequilas later I fell in love with an actual boy, who became my boyfriend for the next 6 years. And although I truly loved this boy, for the following 6 valentine days, I secretly missed the fun and sisterhood of the one where I’d met him
A Girly Girl
I’m a girly girl and I can’t deny it. I’m one of 8 kids, including six sisters and just one brother, poor bugger! I have older sisters and younger sisters, we giggled and borrowed and shared; shared secrets of who we loved and heart aches caused from those who didn’t love us back, We made up routines to Tiffany’s ‘I think we’re alone now’ ( It was 1987 after all), which involved actual tumbling to the ground. ( If you don’t know the lyrics I’m referring to, shame on you, age is not an excuse;).
At school I eventually found my replicate sister gang, The Goody Girls, named after the ‘Goody Women’ we played in The school play ‘The Crucible’, Yes I was that annoying theatre girl, with annoying theatre friends. But again we didn’t care, we were too busy, having fun. We were like something out of Anne of Green Gables, rowing on the river, picnics in the bluebell woods, we drank lambrusco around the campfire, sung silly songs, and talked about all the boys including long debates over who we preferred out of chandler, Joey or Ross (It was 1995 after all). If the Teddy bears and Foil balloons didn’t set you off I’m sure my rose tinted girlhood memories probably have by now, keep the sick bag nearby, there is more to come…..but we have to wait a good few years.
The Goody Girls
In Search of Glitter & Good Times
I graduated from University in 2000 and set off for London in search of glitter and good times. But I had never considered how I would feel when I arrived here. I wasn’t in Kansas anymore or the vibrant Brighton I’d spent the last 4 years in, surrounded by my uni friends all within walking distance, barely a night went by when I wasn’t out doing something fun or creative. Within a few months of arriving in London I sunk into a strange place, which I later realised was depression. I was lonely. I had followed the boy I met on Valentine’s Night 1999 to the big smoke, but he was busy building his career and I ended up living in a shared house with strangers. I very quickly realised that London was expensive, lonely and scary. I was living in Hackney, now before you hark at my hipster coolness, This was 2000. Downs Road, Hackney was terrifying. Every morning a crack addict ran past my house, screaming rape. Our back yard was full of chicken bones and nappies from the traveller community living behind. It seemed to take an age to get anywhere, especially if you missed the last train home. But the hardest thing was the lack of friends, community and most of all Sisterhood
I knew people in London but social gatherings seemed to require weeks of planning. And I was neither a local nor part of a London tribe. All my other graduate friends seemed to be having fun filled starts to their working life which only added to the shame of it all. How could I have gone from being surrounded by friends and saying hello to someone on every street to staring out of the 149 bus window holding back the tears. Too embarrassed to own up to empty weekends and too lost to connect with those around me. At the time, I didn’t know what was missing, I only knew I felt very far away. It was a tough few years and I thought about quitting London many times.
But the Goddess of Sisterhoods threw me a life line and I ended up reconnecting with an old friend from my home town, We hadn’t liked each other much when we were teenagers but in those early London days, what mattered more was a connection, to someone familiar. We made a deal to meet up every Friday, our ‘Sex in The City Date Nights’. Not only did we become the best of friends but like attracts like and within a few months I had made another wonderful friend and we soon had a small gaggle of sisters. Spontaneous, turn up on each other’s doorsteps kind of friends, the kind of friends you don’t need to schedule in because you’re on the journey together. Suddenly London was the exciting and magical place I’ve grown to love and these sisters have grown into unrockable friendships for giggles and borrowing and sharing the love and the heart aches.
Inspiration & Empowerment
In 2007 I set up The Cheek of It! Bringing women together to feel inspired, empowered and have more fun than they can shimmy a tassel at and over the last 8 years it has created an explosion of sisterhoods, we have our own Cheekette Sister community
but we know hundreds of you have become flatmates, business partners, co- producers, co- creators, have formed troupes and set up events, festivals and have embarked on life long friendships and adventures together.
A Halloween Outing Cheekette Style
My first few years in London were not wasted they informed me of what it’s like to feel isolated and disconnected, you can be in an amazing relationship, have a great job and have all the things and still feel lonely. With the reintroduction of sisterhood into my life I realised that having close female friends or communities of like minded women that I can be part of is non negotiable, It’s not an extra part of life, It’s essential, women source me, empower me and make me laugh the most.
I am so, so proud of the Cheek of It! Community. This week 18 new women started their Showtime Burlesque journey
Didi Derriere welcomes Cheekettes On The North London Beginners Burlesque Class
Another 10 dropped into shimmy and laugh at our weekly drop in class on Wednesday
The Weekly Pineapple Dance Cheekettes Last Wednesday
Our current Spotlight students are arranging nights out together as I type, over 20 of us will be travelling to Paris to see Dita Von Teese and we have so many graduates doing so many wonderful things together from Florence, to Serbia to NYC to London that we can’t count you all.
Lady May Welcomes cheekettes On The East London Showtime Course
When We Come Together
When women come together we don’t just feel better about life, with the added power of our sisters we are unstoppable, we can create community and instigate change in all areas of life.
So what does this all have to do with Valentine’s Day. To be honest not much. (After a little research I found out Valentine’s day was originally about the Roman feast of Lupercalia, where men, (including two called Valentine) sacrificed a dog and a goat and then whipped women with the hides of the animals they had slain, in the name of making them fertile……..Ouch, the dark days of the patriarchy are now a whole lot fluffier, cue- over large teddy bear and foil balloons) But Valentine has given me an opportunity to talk about love, the love of sisters, therefore I shall call this blog -Sisterhood- A Love Story.
Cheekette Outing To Brighton
Wishing You A Wonderful Valentine
Myself and the Cheekette team wish you a wonderful valentine Weekend but just so you know, you can celebrate the love with us every day of the year. Ellie Goulding, wrote her song Army for her best friend, Head Girl Lady May Den-Voyage ( who, by the way is an epic force and creator of Sisterhood joy) sent the song to me as it describes how she feels when she is surrounded by her cheekette sisters. So whether you are in a smug couple, part of the self love brigade or are part of the anti Valentine’s gang, we hope you have a sister or twenty to stand with you.
Ellie Goulding – Army
Happy Valentines Day xx
If you have been affected by Loneliness
I found the BBC Documentary The Age of Loneliness a worthwhile watch. Featured in the Documentary are a charity called North London Cares, an amazing charity that brings together isolated young people with isolated older people in their community. The Cheek of It, has volunteered both a workshop and performers for NLC events, if you want to find out more or become a Volunteer, Find out more here. www.northlondoncares.org.uk
What’s your favourite thing about valentines day? We’d love to hear your thoughts too. Feel free to share them in the comments below
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