More than 200 guests enjoyed an evening of DJing and live music at the soon-to-open Ealing Project in Ealing Broadway this week as Ealing Central and Acton MP Rupa Huq used the venue to celebrate her and her son’s 50th and 18th birthdays in style.
Rupa and Rafi welcomed guests to the brand new underground cultural hub on the High Street ‒ formerly the site of the Broadway Boulevard club ‒ for their joint birthday knees-up on Wednesday (22 June).
Partygoers were treated to live music featuring sets by former Cleveland councillor Sitarah Anjum, who sang Bollywood favourites, and the Ealing-based covers band Primary Scream, who sang rock and pop classics. Guest vocals were provided by former Ealing borough councillor Valerie Vaz MP and Kevin Brennan MP, who sang versions of Mustang Sally and Teenage Kicks, while Jeff Smith MP DJed.
The musical talent performed against a backdrop of a slideshow of old Huq family photos and a video featuring panoramic shots of the borough put together by local filmmaker Mo Nabbach titled This is Ealing. Revellers enjoyed locally-sourced drinks and snacks from local caterers, from Park Royal-based Dina Foods’ Middle Eastern savouries and Sweetland’s baklava to HT Drinks’ lager.
Events reached a climax with the unveiling of a large cake, made by Kool Cakes of Southall, featuring a Saturday Night Fever-inspired poster that was used for the event.
Attendees at the “Wednesday Night Fever” themed event included well-known Ealing faces, including Huq’s sister Konnie, the former Blue Peter presenter and author, her husband Charlie Brooker and BBC journalist Rory Cellan-Jones. Neighbouring MPs Ruth Cadbury, Dawn Butler, and Ealing native Stephen Kinnock also made the trip, as well as Tijinder Singh, lead singer of the 90s rock band Cornershop.
Accepting her birthday cake on stage, the MP said she was “totally overwhelmed” by the response to her party. She gave thanks to all the live performers and to Preston Benson, the founder of the developer Really Local Group which is behind the Ealing Project. “Eat, drink and be merry”, Huq joked, “for tomorrow there may be another election, who knows?”
Huq, or DJ Dr Huq as she is otherwise known, later told us, “After two years of lockdowns, it was great to see so I many family and friends, new faces and old faces, back together again for myself and Rafi’s milestone birthday shindig. And what a venue to mark the occasion! The Ealing Project will be a fantastic venue for the whole community, reinvigorating Ealing’s cultural scene with live music, independent cinema, and local art.
“They say you should ‘stress test’ systems before they go live so it was great to have people from my 50 years and my son’s 18 try out the brand spanking new Ealing Project. It was a night to remember for all the right reasons with the same warehouse vibe many of us enjoyed back in the 90s.”
The MP headlined the event with a turn on the turntables, playing songs from her vinyl collection such as the White Stripes’ Seven Nation Army and the Prodigy’s Firestarter.
Preston Benson said, “The Ealing Project were delighted to open our doors for this special birthday event. It was heartwarming to meet so many long-standing residents of Ealing and to hear their ideas on what they would like to see in their brand new 3 screen cinema, live music and exhibition space first.
“Rupa and Rafi have set a high bar for future events but we are confident that the residents of Ealing will give them a run for their money in the coming weeks and months!”
Alistair Young, guitarist for Primary Scream, said, “As an amateur musician it was a fantastic experience to help Rupa and Rafi celebrate their birthdays in such an innovative & much needed cultural space in Ealing Broadway. Rupa has championed Ealing’s music heritage, live performance and film over many years and it was exciting to see a new destination & gathering space start to turn up the volume.”
The Ealing Project opens to the public on Thursday 30 June.