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Padam! God knows what it means but Kylie Minogue has enlivened gay slang

<p>Kylie Minogue has returned to the top of the charts with Padam Padam </p>

Kylie Minogue has returned to the top of the charts with Padam Padam

/ PA Archive
23 June 2023

ars were pricked among some shoppers at Foyles, Charing Cross Road, last Friday when a helpful manager took to the tannoy. “This is a public service announcement,” he said, before taking a beat to maximise the impact of his impromptu declaration. “Padam Padam.”

Ta-da! Welcome to the first unofficial gay summer of Padam. Should its viral escalation have passed you by, “Padam Padam” is an omnipresent bop from Kylie Minogue, among my top five favourite adopted Londoners, a people’s princess I share with many. Her elegant Padams have thwarted all expectations of how a Kylie Minogue single ought to perform in 2023, making her only the fourth female artist to secure top 10 singles across five consecutive decades, Padam-ing her way to the top tier for the first time since 2013.

As a record, Padam Padam is a cunning little whisper of electropop, the sort of song gay fans might invent in our heads for Ms Minogue if tasked with the brief while consulting a useful dictionary of words once immortalised by Edith Piaf. It isn’t just the fruitier end of Foyles’ staff who are elevating “Padam” with public notoriety. I read a news bulletin on the BBC this week (no, seriously) explaining the made-up etymology of Padam, an onomatopoeic word for the sound of the heart’s beat, before explaining how far this exotic new Padam has travelled into gay slang.

As a phenomenon, Padam is something beyond many of our, and almost certainly her, wildest imaginings. In five short weeks of existence, Padam has become a gay codeword for everything and nothing. It is question, greeting, exclamation, insult and, in some shady corner of the internet, very probably dubious sex practice by now. One Padam fits all. The audiences at the Parisian menswear shows have used Padam as both superlative and curt rebuke. Prepare your ears for an onslaught of Padams at NYC Downlow, the gay enclave of Glastonbury this weekend, as Padam is given festival wings, biologically befitting the preponderance of amyl nitrate onsite.

Yes, Padam has entered common gay vernacular with a bounce, Padam-ing its way toward infamy. The data banks of China have imploded due to TikTok going Padam bonkers. The old homophobic insult, “it’s Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve”, will soon be updated to “not Padam and Eve”. Heaven help any gay man christened Adam during this especially giddy Pride Month. Padam Lambert doesn’t stand a chance. Padam Driver escapes on a heterosexual technicality, but not for long if he carries on starring in those buff aftershave ads.

God bless Kylie. Padam is a noble addition to Polari, the fictitious post-war gay language. It is now indivisible from Minogue Power, honouring her entrenched relationship with a community which elevated and sustained her. Where Kylie succeeds, there is usually a sideline of unfettered gay joy that follows. When she is cheerful, so are we. What a wonderful skill that is.

Virgil Abloh’s legacy lives on

When the late, great Virgil Abloh launched his debut collection for Louis Vuitton in June 2018, he themed the runway a Yellow Brick Road. That collection went down in history, not just because of the breadth of his cinematic vision.

I spoke to Abloh about his purposeful invitation to people who aspire to the luxury of LV as models and audience. His runway was peopled with exciting young Londoners, rappers, musicians and skateboarders.

Tuesday’s debut by Pharrell Williams for the brand, a commercial masterclass, has divided online critics. But in one way he stayed true to Abloh.

I noticed the brilliant young London artist and photographer Gabriel Moses, in double pixelated denim, gliding down Pont Neuf. A significant shift of who is and who ought to be invited to high-fashion events happens in those moments. The door Abloh cranked wide remains open.

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