Monday, 26 October 2009


On Saturday night I joined a cult. They didn’t seduce me into their inner circle with the tried and tested routine of chants and green tea, but with the much more effective disco music and vodka. It seems it only takes a little of each to become totally hooked on Madonna.

My good friend Edward has been an avid Madonna follower for years and is constantly barraging me with facts and reasons why I should love her just as much as he. I always, no matter how amazing the story, remained completely un-swayed, shaking my head to each suggestion- ‘no, I don’t like that song’; ‘I think she sounds like a total bitch’ were my most common responses. So it was with my obvious reluctance that I agreed to join him and the other so called ‘Madonna mentalists’ at a special tribute night at G-A-Y on Saturday. I decided to give myself three hours and plenty of booze before I would wearily take myself home. In my mind that counted as giving her a chance.

Turns out I didn’t need the booze and although I did only stay three hours that was only because after that time they stopped playing Madonna, substituting her for Kylie (anyone who says that she is the Queen of pop is mad!) You see, within minutes of being inside the door the sheer love for Madonna was so overwhelming I couldn’t help but smile. Hordes and hordes of men in various Madonna tour t-shirts were perfecting their awesome dance routines whilst rare Madonna videos flashed on television screens around the dance floor. I sat down and people watched for a while, praying for a “who’s the biggest Madonna fan” bitch fight to break out. But it never did. It seems Madonna fans have as much love for their peers as they have for their idol herself. Immediately my presence there meant I was one of them, loved: my position in the family secure.

Hesitantly I made my way to the dance floor full of fear that my lack of dance routine to ‘vogue’ would reveal me as a fraud and I’d have to hastily leave. Surprisingly I found that my classic ‘side to side shuffle combined with miming along to the words’ dance was as equally accepted as the break dancers in the corner. Between each song we would all clap and yell ‘well-done Madonna, you go girl!’ – In fact we did everything short of getting down on our knees and praising her. I admit I did start this over energetic praising with an edge of sarcasm but then slowly I began to realise that Madonna did in fact deserve all of it. She was more than a pop star: she was an icon and a pioneer.

Like me, maybe Madonna’s music doesn’t directly appeal to you but you’re bound like at least one of the spawn of female pop stars that followed in her suit: Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, Pink plus many more all grew up listening to Madonna and cite her as a big influence on their careers. Well known for singing about sex, love and even political issues (as Pink did with ‘Dear Mr President’) it was Madonna that paved the way for them to do this: even at the very beginning of her career Madonna was pushing the boundaries of the lyrical content of mainstream pop.

Music wasn’t the only thing she advanced either: she contributed greatly to the sexual empowerment of women across the world. Using her songs, movies, videos and the infamous book ‘Sex’ book, Madonna took away the Barbie Doll image of women and told the world proudly that women need and want sex.

That night I must have seen all of Madonna’s different personas she has created for herself over the years: this constant image over hall which continues to spawn fashion trends. Every time there is a 80s fashion comeback the trend is all about Madonna’s iconic pearls and lace gloves.

These changes didn’t just influence the fashion world but were key to Madonna the business woman: the inspiration to other inspiring female entrepreneurs out there. She was the first female to achieve financial control over her work- something that women had long fought for within the industry. Nowadays, the London Business School presents Madonna as a ‘dynamic entrepreneur’ worth copying identifying her vision of success, her understanding of the music industry, he ability of recognize her performance limits (and thus asking for help), her sheer hard work and her ability to change according to the times as the reasons behind her phenomenal success.

I’ll never be able to list every knock on effect Madonna has had on the world nor will I ever be able to list all of her criticisms, but I am very grateful that I had the chance to spend the night appreciating everything she has done and how it has influence my life (despite my stubborn protests). You see, love her or loathe her we can all learn something from Madonna: to take our criticisms, fight back and never underestimate an image over hall. I’m certainly a convert.

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