There’s no better way to celebrate a holiday where you eat an abundance of fried food, open presents, and spend time with loved ones than to sing about it. That’s right, Hanukkah songs are where it’s at, and there are oh so many to choose from. There are classics like “Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah” and “Rock of Ages,” and some that are a little spicier, like Adam Sandler’s “Chanukah Song” and Sharon Jones and the Dap King’s “8 Days (of Hanukkah).” But until this year, I had never heard one that celebrates wintertime queer love.
But that all changed thanks to Club Sofa’s “This Hanukkah.”
Club Sofa is a Vancouver-based DIY band comprised of four women: Payton Hansen (rhythm guitar/vocals), Jess Jones (drums), Jas Carlin (bass), and Dom Hallberg (lead guitar/keyboard). Their music seamlessly blends classic indie sounds with a jazz influence and their lyrics, penned by Hansen, are irreverent and relatable to the 20-somethings that frequent indie scenes, with song titles like “Myspace 2009” and “I Moved to Vancouver and All I Got Was This Stupid Nicotine Addiction.”
The queer Hanukkah mega-bop that is “This Hanukkah” came to exist after Tim Clapp, head of Neptoon Records in Vancouver, asked the band to write a Christmas song for his annual Christmas party, at which he hands out free vinyls and donates the funds raised to a suicide prevention charity. “When I told Tim I was Jewish and would like to make a Hanukkah song instead, he was totally stoked,” Hansen told me over email, explaining that she’s the only Jewish member of the band and had “a lot of fun teaching the girls about Hanukkah.”
You might be asking, how can a Hanukkah song be queer? As answered by “This Hanukkah,” there are so many ways! First and foremost, the song is not only a celebration of the festival of lights — it’s also a love song to a romantic partner, referred to throughout the song as “you” rather than with a gender-specific pronoun. Hansen, who wrote the lyrics to the song, says that “the song intentionally keeps things gender ambiguous” and that when writing “This Hanukkah,” she “wanted people to see themselves snuggling with their lovers watching Adam Sandler movies or making latkes together no matter how they or their partner identify.”
Hansen also says that as a queer person, she just likes to write queer songs in general (me too, Payton). “A lot of holiday songs are very gendered and tell stories of heterosexual love during the holidays,” Hansen says. “It’s kind of isolating in some ways for those who don’t identify as straight or cis.”
“This Hanukkah” is also “queering” Hanukkah music in a sense, too — with a very different feeling than other traditional Hanukkah music. With a ‘50s-inspired sound instead of the minor-keyed music that we Jews are so used to, it’s a welcome addition to the canon.
Did I mention that there’s also an insanely fun music video for “This Hanukkah”? It shows the members of Club Sofa making latkes, lighting the menorah, and celebrating the festival of lights with their chosen family: each other.
Hansen adds that she “just wanted to write a fun catchy tune about how great Hanukkah is, ‘cause there aren’t enough of them!” and I’m here to say that was definitely achieved. “This Hanukkah” is the relevant and relatable queer Hanukkah anthem that we all deserve!