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Interview: The Ghetto Fabulous Catwalk Extravaganza hits Ensemble Festival

Image: Ghetto Fabulous in action


Ghetto Fabulous is a dance and visual arts company that aims are to excite, entertain and have fun with the projects it embarks on, inspired by fashion, music, film, photography and the ever-changing world. Not afraid to explore the political and the personal, The Ghetto Collection is a unique voice in the UK arts landscape.


Hailing from the north of England, the collective is made up of individuals from Liverpool and Manchester. On Saturday 22 July they'll be in London, performing as part of the Ensemble Festival, produced by Certain Blacks. Here, two members, Darnell Gledhill and Darren Pritchard talk to Run Riot about their London show: Family Catwalk Extravaganza, plus we we quiz them about the collective, the UK arts scene, and hedonism.


Run Riot: What the heck is Ghetto Fabulous?


Ghetto Fabulous: Ghetto Fabulous is a DJ and dance collective of QTIPOC creatives based in Manchester (Queer, Trans, Bi, Intersex, People of Colour). There’s Darnell Gledhill and Darren Pritchard, that’s us! Then there’s Fortune Jordan, Xavier Thomas, Kaan Sari and compere Stuart Boden.


We do catwalk extravaganzas, cabaret, club performances and more, all based on queer black joy. The collective are all different ages so have very different experiences of growing up QTIPOC. The name Ghetto represents the working class community and Fabulous because that’s exactly what we are!


What's more, we've toured across the UK extensively. We’ve been hosted by Battersea Arts Centre, Hull Truck Company, Cambridge Junction, Happy Valley Pride in Hebden Bridge and Manchester’s Contact Theatre. Recently we performed at Euro Party 2023 in Liverpool accompanying this year’s Eurovision. 


Image: Ghetto Fabulous in action


Run Riot: Tell us about the Ghetto Fabulous Family Catwalk Extravaganza at Ensemble Festival.


Ghetto Fabulous: And the category is... family friendly! Family Catwalk Extravaganza inspired by Black Queer Joy features us, the dancers and performers from Ghetto Fabulous who originate from Manchester, Huddersfield and Liverpool. The North of England has a vibrant vogueing community which we are part of but continue to expand to the next level. We are resident dancers at the FireHouse at Ancoats in Manchester and we also DJ and often ‘walk’ in local fashion shows.


In our show, we promote equality and diversity through Black-led LGBTQ+ arts activities competing to be crowned as the audience’s chosen winner in a series of challenges. It’s an outright celebration of fashion, music, dance, individuality, aspiration and creativity.


Ghetto Fabulous also offers a workshop ahead of the show, allowing the children to learn some of the moves and get a flavour of what’s to come.


Hosted by Stuart, the audience are treated to fashion, dance and lip sync battles and given the chance to vote for their favourite in each category by making as much noise as possible. With an emphasis on self-expression and celebrating diversity, it’s a space for gay, trans, gender non-conforming and questioning young people plus their friends and families to see positive, celebratory representations of themselves. It is also an eye opening and magical experience for everyone to explore different identities and ways of being outside of the mainstream, through movement, dance and costume. The soundtrack is an electric mix of R&B, disco, pop, and hip hop


Run Riot: Are you all doing other things which feed into Ghetto Fabulous?


Ghetto Fabulous: You betcha! We're all workin' it real hard. Fortune is a choreographer and dancer who also teaches at Rare Studios in Liverpool; Stu Bowden is a performer for Bakehouse; Xav is a dancer and burlesque performer from the club scene; Darnell is a trained dancer for the Shockout Academy in Manchester and is now a regular on the club scene and a resident dancer at FireHouse; and Khan is a dancer and performer.


Run Riot: Being a fabulous creative collective, people are going to ask: can I join the house of Ghetto Fabulous? 


Ghetto Fabulous: For Ghetto Fabulous there’s no audition process. All the dancers are chosen by Darren Pritchard, the artistic Director. We're currently not expanding as a collective but welcome audiences in such a way that each show is collaborative, unique and memorable - with you, the audience! Bring it on people!


Image: Ghetto Fabulous in action


Run Riot: How did you get involved with Ensemble Festival?


Ghetto Fabulous: Our show, the Family Catwalk Extravaganza was selected by the Without Walls Consortium - which Certain Blacks (the producers of Ensemble Festival) are part of. 


Without Walls is a consortium of over 30 creative partners working together to create, develop and tour innovative new work and invest in the growth of the outdoor arts sector. This is the first time we've worked with them. 


Ensemble Festival is produced by Certain Blacks, so it's a black led festival and one of the very few on the festival circuit.


Run Riot: If people from Liverpool, Manchester and London were to have three things in common, what would they be?


Ghetto Fabulous: They are from fierce cosmopolitan, diverse cities. The love of a good night out, and hedonism!


Run Riot: What are you hopes for the UK arts scenes over the next five-years?


Ghetto Fabulous: That the scene becomes a leader in diversity and inclusion.


Ghetto Fabulous perform

Family Catwalk Extravaganza

at Ensemble Festival


Royal Victoria Docks

Western Gate Way

London E16 1FA

Saturday 22 July, mid day - 19:00

More info:

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