Posts Tagged ‘Dalston’

Positive East

Ahead of our World AIDs Day fundraiser on the 1st of December we had a little chat with Alex, the fundriasing officer for Positive East. Alex has been with the charity for 2 and a half years, and works to engage with the local community and encourage them to support the work of Positive East!

What is Positive East’s mission?

All of the charity’s work and services are designed around our mission to improve the quality of life of individuals and communities affected by HIV in East London.

 Can you tell us a little of the organisation’s history? How did it come into being?

Positive East came about at the height of the AIDS pandemic and was born out of an urgent need to address the significant issues that HIV presented in East London in the 80s.  Two organisations were established – London East AIDS Network and the Globe Centre – which then merged in 1991 to better meet the needs of people living with HIV and became Positive East.

What kind of services do you provide?

We offer a wide range of services.  We have an advice line, counselling and peer support services, tailored support groups including our Re:Assure Women’s Group which supports HIV positive women with past experiences of trauma. And of course, we deliver free HIV tests in the local community.  We are a community-led organisation and I think one of the best things about our services is that so many of our programmes and groups are co-delivered by volunteers, many of whom are living with HIV themselves which means they are much better at understanding the issues and barriers that so many people living with HIV still face.

Why is it important that services like yours exist?

It’s so important – even more important than ever really – as less and less funding is being given to the HIV sector.  This is a very significant time in the world of HIV.  There are some great things to celebrate – a dramatic fall in new HIV diagnoses, particularly amongst gay men in London and London has also exceeded the UNAIDS 90-90-90 target (90% of people living with HIV are diagnosed, 90% of people diagnosed are on treatment, and 90% of those on treatment are adhering to their medication).  We can also now say categorically that someone living with HIV who has an undetectable viral load cannot pass on the virus (Undetectable = Untransmittable) and PrEP works as an effective method of preventing onward transmission!

However, although these are fabulous developments, the challenge remains that not everyone and not all communities are benefiting.  HIV stigma is still a reality and there are far too many people undiagnosed or diagnosed late.  There are 50,000 Londoners living with HIV which of course means that HIV support services are still needed.

How has the work that Positive East does changed over the last decade?

We have always worked and will continue to work towards improving the lives of people living with HIV.  We know that there have been incredible developments in HIV medication but unfortunately, society – and its approach to HIV – needs to catch up.  Stigma, isolation and ill mental health are still very real challenges that require bespoke support and there are now fewer organisations that offer similar services.  Without our work, thousands of people living with HIV would not receive support and advice to manage an HIV diagnosis.

 How has austerity affected your service users and your work as an organisation (if at all)?

It has impacted us severely.  Sexual health services, Positive East included, are facing significant funding cuts year on year.  It looks like this is going to continue into the future as well which means we are becoming increasingly reliant on the support of our local community.

 What advice would you give to someone who has been newly diagnosed with HIV?

First of all, you’re not alone.  Positive East is here to support you.  As I mentioned, HIV medication is very advanced which means that someone diagnosed now, who adheres to their medication, can continue living their life as normal with very few changes.  And all of our programmes and services are designed to make the journey towards managing an HIV diagnosis as smooth and stress-free as possible.

 What are the best ways for people to get involved in and support Positive East’s work?

I mentioned that we are facing some fairly significant funding cuts, so we urgently need both people and organisations to support us so that we can continue our work.  You can make donations to the charity through our website – www.positiveeast.org.uk – or you can fundraise for the charity by setting up an online fundraising page.  We cannot thank Dalston Superstore enough for the fantastic support they have shown for Positive East as well – you are so amazing!  We are always looking for volunteers to help us deliver our work, whether that’s staffing our reception desk for a couple of hours or delivering outreach in the local community to raise awareness of HIV.  There are lots of different roles!  You can find out more by emailing our Volunteer Manager at volunteering@positiveeast.org.uk

Most importantly are you looking forward to letting your hair down at the party after the World AIDS Day Red Run?!

YES!  Absolutely!  It’s been really fantastic organising what has now become the UK’s largest World AIDS Day community event and I can’t wait to continue the celebrations with Superstore on the night!

Find the event for our World AIDs Day fundraiser here. All profits from the door price will go directly to Positive East.

VALUE PACK ft BRAT

Hi babies! Value Pack is our brand spanking new weekly monday night shindig. There will be trashy, nostalgic music, cute vibes, CHEAP DRINKS FOR STUDENTS and maybe a little bit of drag action… Before the first installment this monday (05/11) we had a cheeky little chat with our resident discount pop DJ BRAT.

value pack at dalston superstore

Hi Brat

U K, Hun?

Good thanks babe! You’re a founding member of Bodycon, one of our monthly Thursday parties, tell us a bit about that..

Bodycon is the messy binch you have a fab time in the smoking area with bt would NEVER invite to the afterparty bcs she’d be the one to break the sink.  She’s obnoxious and makes absolutely no sense, but the club is where she shines. She’s that girl who posts constantly on Facebook and is only funny 10% of the time IRL.  

Bodycon at dalston superstore

What exactly is Discount Pop

Discount Pop is a culmination of all the bangers you’d hear pulsating out your older sisters door in 2003. It’s the choreo to Girls Aloud – Sound of the Underground. It’s a celebration of the once overplayed, now underplayed that will guarantee a toe tapping and more than one bussy popping.

How many times are you going to play Jennifer Lopez – Waiting for Tonight?

I guess u’ll have to Wait until mon Night to see 😉 

How many shots of Tuaca are you going to hammer?

I’m usually a Jägerbomb chik, u know this. But I’m going to see if my expired student card works @ the bar 😉

tuaca student discount at dalston superstore

Does she even go here?

I’ve said it before. I’ll say it again. If she’s wearing a Peplum, she’s not getting in.

value pack at dalston sueprstore

What’s you’re most memorable Poundland moment?

Who hasn’t done a last min High Drag lqqk w/ Poundland accessories? 

If you were a multi-pack of crisps, what choice of flavours would you contain?

Jägerbomb, Vegan Cheese, Strappy Cork Wedge and Special Edition Tuaca.

What’s the cheapest thing you’ve ever done?

Nothing I do is cheap, it just looks like it is. 

Are all the things she said running through you’re head?

All the things she said will be slut dropping in ur head Tues morn !!;*

Bye BRAT! c u monday night xxx

Lyl xxxx

HOMODROP TURNS 4!!

Our favourite happy-go-lucky homodisco HOMODROP is turning four this weekend and celebrating with an extra special party with headliner SONJA. We had a little chat with promoter Florian about the birth of HOMODROP, his musical inspirations and more..

    homodrop at dalston superstore           homodrop at dalston superstore

Hi Florian, for those of us that don’t know you as a promoter, can you tell us a little about what you do?   

For HOMODROP I’m taking care of programming, building a line up, contacting DJs , agency, booking them and also taking care of all visuals . It’s is really important for me to have good music and good posters. Both are linked.

How did Homodrop come into the world? Was she an easy birth? A long, painful out labour of love?

 Very fast actually, no pain hahaha! The party came out of the closet 4 years ago, in a Stoke Newington basement, on a sunny summer Sunday afternoon. For the first one there were only 2 DJs- STATHIS from DISCOSODOMA and myself. 

                          homodrop at dalston superstore

If you could sum up these last four years of Homodrop in one track what would it be?

That’s a hard one! I think I’d choose a track form MASSIMILIANO PAGLIARA who played last year for us, called I AM DISCO .

If you could pick any guest, dead or alive, to headline one of your parties, who would it be?

The late, great Frankie Knuckles.

Can you tell us a little bit more about SONJA, your headliner for this edition?

We met playing together in Lisbon where she’s been really shaking up the underground electro scene in the last year. She has her own label called Labareda, a resident for LUX and hosts a monthly radio show on the famous Radio Quantica. On top of that impressive CV she is very funny!

What were your earliest musical inspirations?

Electronic wise i started to play minimal, techno minimal, electro minimal and electro clash about 12 years ago.

                       homodrop at dalston superstore 

You’ve got all international of late, Homodropping  in Canada, France and Portugal, where you now live, what’s that been like??

I’ve recently moved to Lisbon. It’s a really nice city and I’ve discovered a very underground scene, even more underground than Berlin. It’s proper underground, in all aspect, venues, posters of party, equipment, people ….

      17807420_790026627816880_870776214682603715_o       26196124_943638062455735_293717537377576017_n

If you could be any animal crossed with another animal, what would you be an why?

I can imagine myself a mix between a bee and a stingray.

What track would you use to describe this creature??

HAPPA – DRAG

Have you got any exciting ideas for the future of Homodrop at DSS?

Stay tuned – but we have a mega party coming up for DSS 10TH ANNIVERSARY :)


 

Catch Homodrop’s bday shenanagins from 9pm-4am this Saturday 3rd of November!

Clash Bash’s Top 10 Fashion Moments

Has this year’s summer time got you dried up and far too dusty? Well my babes, get that kick of moisture down at our homo-oasis this Friday as our favourite mis-matched club night returns with a wet and wild affair at Clash Bash no.5 ~ SPLISH SPLASH!
 
After five instalments, these jumbled up queens have gained quite the reputation for their unique lewks, and we can only imagine what they will throw at us this time! To help inspire you to dress as clash-tastically as possible, we asked the Clash Bash crew to compile their Top 10 Clash Bash Fash moments!
 
Read on to find out who makes the cut of this infamous list!
 
1. Princess Diana
Two garish, clashing houndstooths, some stripy detailing and an oversized, jaunty hat! If Princess Di was still with us, she’d definitely be on the Clash Bash guestlist.
 
1 princess diana
 
2. Walter Van Beirendonck
In their Spring/ Summer 2016 collection, Walter Van Beirendonck used fabrics that clearly were snatched from a baby’s crib! Absolute toot!
 
2. Walter-Van-Beirendonck_ss16_fy21
 
3. Oozing Gloop @oozing_gloop
A vintage lewk from the world’s premiere autistic green drag queen! Oozing Gloop displays good ol’ American patriotism refashioning party decorations into glamorous accessories. 
 
3 Oozing gloop
 
4. Mikey Woodbridge @mikey.woodbridge
Even an off-duty Mikey Woodbridge can make mis-matchy-matchy look mega-chic. Mikey proves that there is no need to actually buy anything at Vivienne Westwood. Just grab an empty bag, and make yourself a hat. We love this lewk! It’s bold, bright, and (brown) cow stunning! 
 
4 mikey woodbridge
 
5. Carlos Whisper’s #faceswapfail series @whisper_ldn
Who Carlos Whisper’s #faceswapfail series is a trippy mash-up mess of facial features! says your lips need to be on your mouth? Sometimes your eyes belong on your forward and your lips on your chin! 
 
5 Carlos Whisper
 
6. Jimi Hendrix
Sexy psychedelic vibes with foreign patterns and floral fabrics! This Clash Bash party is themed ‘Splish Splash’ and let me tell you, we are wet already from this Jimi picture. 
 
6 jimi hendrix
 
7. Fizzy Fingers @fizzyfingers
Fizzy Finger’s technicolour couture is perfect for the fashion forward alien. An extraterrestrial scuba suit perfect for wading through the milky way and lounging on Mars!
 
7 fizzy fingers
 
8. Gaff-e’s ‘Colour Me Crazy’ 
Gaff E’s kaleidoscope-esque music video for ‘Colour Me Crazy’ features some truly iconic lewks filmed in the magical home of Sue Kreitzman! The Clash Bash crew salute Gaff E & Sue, and encourage you to dance on and over the line between art collector and high-fashion hoarder.
 
 
 
9. Kyary Pamyu Pamyu
J-pop superstar Kyary Pamyu Pamyu inspires with an off-the-charts kawaii overload. If you aren’t sure what to wear for Clash Bash, pull a Kyary and just wear everything. More is always more!
 
9 kyary pamyu pamyu
 
10. Synchronised Swimmers
As this Clash Bash ~ Splish Splash, our pool-less pool party, we had to include a horrendously fabulous synchronised swimmer lewk. Sparkly veins, sequin arteries, a bejeweled heart, AND a an exposed brain swim cap. Slay’s Anatomy!
 
10 synchronised swimmers
 
YAS queens, that’s all the inspiration you could possibly need before you take a cheeky dip this Friday!
 

Catch the Clash Bash crew at Clash Bash no.5 ~ Splish Splash Friday July 27 from 9pm- 3am at Dalston Superstore!

SofterTouch

Can you believe its been a whole year since SofterTouch made their cosmic crash-landing at the mothership? This Thursday sees an intergalactic celebration of the rowdy, abrasive, noise intensive experiencé that has become a cult-hit! With three successful club nights AfterTouch, SofterTouch and MEGALAST as well as playing at festivals such as Secret Garden Party, LeeFest and Glastonbury, J.Aria (Jacob Aria) and Ni-ku (Nik Rawlings) are renowned across East London for their eclectic and bratty DJ stylings. We caught up with Jacob and Nik to chat about how their friendship blossomed, why we’ve heard Barry Manilow play at SofterTouch, and what we can expect from Thursday!

Hiya Jacob and Nik! For our readers who aren’t that well acquainted with you two, can you tell us a bit about yourselves ? 

J: I’ve been working as a musician in some form or another since I was about 15. Loads of different bands and gigs, festivals and all that. My main focus is a vocalist and experimental producer. I started to find my feet as a DJ about eighteen months ago.

N: I come from a choral background, had a noise band when I was a teenager and ended up studying Sound Art in Brighton, and DJing and promoting went hand in hand with that. For a long time I was obsessed with voguing and that informed a lot of my earlier DJ sets, and I organised a series of voguing events in Nottingham. I’ve always been drawn to more textural, intense, manic music. I think some highlights for me so far have been playing for Boo Hoo at Südblock in Berlin, at Tropical Waste with a hero of mine, KABLAM, and at Intruder Alert in Warsaw. Travelling and making new connections is one of the best things about DJing.

jacob aria

You’ve been collaborating with one another for quite some time now. Let’s rewind… How did you two meet? 

 J: We met at a Lotic gig in Brighton and hit it off. We’re both quite unbearable so we compliment each other pretty well.

N: Jacob and I hit it off pretty much immediately (ie. we both ranted a lot). Our interests and taste clicked so when I moved up to London it was an obvious move to work together. We’re a good balance as a duo and Jacob’s happy to tell me to shut up which is important when you work with me.

Your first club night, Aftertouch, seemed to have a real underground and experimental vibe to it. Tell us a little bit about the premise behind it?.

 J: We wanted to bring together experimental queer performance art with experimental queer club DJing in a way that we hadn’t experienced before in London – it was usually one or the other.

N: We had spoken a lot about how at the time (2015/16) there was a lack of queer nights that focussed on the more experimental club music we were both into whilst also making a good space for performance art and radical drag. We wanted to present a night that was darker, more confrontational, disco-free, without being too overtly serious or prescriptive.

Aftertouch provided an amazing platform for queer artists. There seems to be an abundance of amazing LGBTQ+ performance talent but a lack of spaces for them. How can London become a better city for performers? 

J: There are loads of amazing things happening now. But it’s always a nightmare trying to get a venue to support you with your stuff. There’s usually always a catch, and doing something that isn’t super conventional is always a gamble. I think London would benefit from having more interesting and accessible spaces to party in. The licensing laws here are too tight, it stifles a lot of freedom when you’re regulated in that way. It needs to loosen up, and we need more funding to be put into creative outlets. It’s kind of a rich kids playground, and rich kids are boring c**ts.

N: There’s some fundamental issues being in London that need to improve that would positively impact all creative scenes and especially queer performers. Space tends to be in short supply, but so is time; without lower rent and better wages it’s impossible to take time to make work!  We all need more time and space than we often have in London if we want to be able to make ambitious, honest and original work. I’m sick of seeing new build flats sold on the credibility of the ‘creative quarter’ that they knocked down. Dedicated spaces are in short supply, so hats off to the LGBTQ+ Community Centre project. Projects like that are going to be wildly important in supporting performers.

nik 2

Why did you decide to move away from performance to a music-centred night with SofterTouch?

 J: I just wanted to bring something really different to the Dalston Superstore programming, and to have a regular night to work on my DJ skills I guess. It had always been that I was the one that sorted the performance aspect of afterTouch and I wanted to cross over into DJing. Plus Superstore have always been so supportive of us as both friends and mentors that we wanted to do something there, something ‘at home’.

N: We’d both worked at Superstore – and for me it was a formative club when I first started coming to queer clubs, so obviously we wanted to ‘come home’. But we were also really excited to disrupt what people might expect from Dalston Superstore, and bring something a bit more confrontational and manic. It’s been a really great learning experience for both of us; we play B2B all night, and play a really frenetic and sometimes jarring combination of tracks, so the music can be a real journey. It’s kind of like an argument on the decks, but somehow it works. Oh, and generally I’ll close out with a basic bitch trance or donk remix of something so there’s that.

In terms of your DJ styles, who or what have been your inspirations?

 J: My influences are all over the place. Sometimes I’m pretending I’m Black Madonna or Honey Dijon, other times it’s Aphex Twin or JLin. I dunno, I’m super messy. I get most of my inspiration from my DJ friends or by being on the other side of the desk on the dance floor and kinda peeking over to see how the DJ is working. I’m always trying to study whoever I see.

N: Big question. I think the whole of our particular scene looks to TOTAL FREEDOM as an originator. KABLAM, originally of Janus in Berlin is still my current favourites, we have a lot of choral influences in common too. Then also I always look back to the Bubblebyte party, maybe seven years ago in Peckham where AIDS-3D & TCF (then known as Craxxxmurf) played loads of insane bubbling and hardstyle – it still stands out years later, and I’ll weave in some tracks from that period throughout most sets. When I’m playing a solo mix I’ll plan a trajectory and think about the textural and emotional story I want to tell, and when I play SofterTouch with Jacob it’s much more about wild trax that’ll just about fit with whatever they’ve been playing and keep bodies moving without being too stuck to genre or tempo.

Its safe to say that you both are quite contrasting in what you play, but we’ve never experienced a dull moment when you’re both going b2b at SofterTouch! Why do you think you both work so well together?

J: It just keeps the night evolving, because the mood is constantly shifting. We have totally different tastes but there’s a middle ground, we are both trying to experiment in similar ways – just with different tracks. If I think Nik is being too bratty I’ll play Barry Manilow just to piss him off.

N: We kind of battle each other a bit and sometimes there’ll be 30 minutes of us playing tracks that mix smoothly and then you’ll have a whole load of material that shouldn’t work together but somehow does. There’s a huge range of genres we’ll play from…. and every now and again I’ll drop a lipsync track in and get on the bar. We play a lot of quite intense music but it’s all with a sense of humour.

More recently, you both brought your experimental flare to our Friday night line-up with MEGALAST! Whats in store for the next one?

 J: MegaLast is our new Friday night party. It’s kind of a natural progression from softerTouch. We are bringing in challenging and experimental DJs from across the country and the continent. I guess we are really trying to shake up the kind of programming you would expect on Kingsland Road on a Friday night. We are back on August 31st for round two, it’s gonna be even bigger and rowdier than our first. I’m super excited about who we are looking to get down to the lazerpit this time around.

N: MegaLast brings both SofterTouch and AfterTouch’s music policies together; there’s artists downstairs playing more abrasive, experimental and intense music downstairs in the basement and diverse party tracks upstairs. The next one will be headlined by Object Blue whose recent release on Tobago Tracks is one of the standout records of the year for us; they’re also a regular Superstore-goer and so we’re really excited to have her at DSS for the first time

Who would be your dream booking?

J: Flying Lotus or J Lin would be nuts.

N: TCF, Holly Herndon, Ase Manual, Lotic, W3C.

In five words, can you describe what we can expect Thursday?

J: Bratty, erratic, explorations, heaviness and audacity.

N: Cute bounce, much booty, kick.


Catch J.Aria and Ni-Ku at SofterTouch: One Year this Thursday 7th June 9pm-2:30am at Dalston Superstore!

 

Goldsnap!

Dalston Superstore is absolutely thrilled to announce new weekly gurlzzz party Goldsnap will be debuting on Thursday 31 March! The three-way lovechild of local female DJ collective Goldsnap, this is a party space for all with an emphasis on showcasing amazing local female talent. You can expect R&B, Hip Hop, House, Trap, Afrobeats, Garage, Dance, House and more from Mwen, DJ Dibs, VDubs & very special guests! We caught up with them to see what they’re planning to unleash!

Hi guys! We are super excited about your new new Thursday night girls night at Dalton Superstore! Can you tell us a little bit about your vision for Goldsnap?

We feel it’s time for something new to happen on the scene. A place where girls can go every Thursday to dance till they sweat, with other girls. It’s pretty simple. That’s all I’ve ever wanted from a girl’s night – good music, good vibes and dancing.

Where did the inspiration for the name come from?

Goldsnap means a sudden climatic change that is golden. 
Goldsnap poster Final 3
You guys have a bit of a history together as DJs. How did the three of you come together?

We all met through VDubz back in 2014. VDubz was bartending in a basement joint in Dalston and DJ Dibs played a set that basically blew her away. So VDubz fed her rum and coke until DJ Dibs was convinced to come over and do a jam session. VDubz brought Mwen along and it was so electric that VDubz’s house burned down a couple weeks later. True story.

If you could change anything about queer nightlife in London, what would it be?

If anything, it would be more QTIBPOC (Queer, Trans*, Inter*, Black and People of Colour) spaces. We want a night which plays something for everyone, we’re setting out to create a space where everything comes together, the music, the queer, the funk & the fun.

If you had a time machine and could do dancing anywhere/ anywhen, where would you go?

Dj Dibs: Definitely back to the 70s when no one gave a shit. Music was at its peak, everyone had to dance and hairy guys were in – lol.

Mwen: Any time a new scene emerged like hip-hop or jungle/drum ‘n’ bass. I remember when dubstep was emerging. Those early moments in a scene when a few artists are doing something really interesting and exciting I think are golden. Working outside the paradigm of popular music is such a hard thing to do and I think there is something magical when you witness it happening.

VDubz: Back to the Golden Age of hip hop: the nineties. The style was everything, the lyrics were on point – Fresh Prince, A Tribe Called Quest, VH1, MTV… I find it all terribly romantic.

What is your favourite track of the year so far?

Dibs: Am I Wrong by Anderson Paak. It’s a party track but also soothing at the same time.

Mwen: Missy Elliot’s WTF. I’ll be playing that tune a lot I think…

VDubz: Beyonce’s Formation. We slay!

And one track you can’t wait to drop at Goldsnap?

Dibs: Afrikan Lady by Aina More


Mwen: I can’t wait to drop a few garage classics…you’ll have to wait and find out which ones though…

VDubz: Rewind by Kelela


Catch the Dibs, VDubz & Mwen at the premiere of Goldsnap on Thursday 31 March at Dalston Superstore from 9pm-2:30am!

Final Dirty Diana at Dalston Superstore!

For the last two years at Dalston Superstore, Dirty Diana‘s tear-away club kids, hellafied homos and their gorgeous homies have been stomping in the darkness of the laser basement. The heaving bodies were brought together by their debauched sense of creativity and their uninhibited self exploration. Thanks to the killer, throbbing soundtrack presented by the incredible team of rotating DJs and performers, we have seen some serious magic over the last two years. In honour of the final Dirty Diana at Superstore, we caught up with the crew to talk about what DD has meant to them, and to hear some of the top tracks that had the laser basement screaming for more. 

Dirty Diana is the type of party you grow to love. She celebrates being and thinking outside the box. She is a community where you are celebrated for being the fierce individual that we all have the potential to be. A place where everyone is welcome.

The beats you hear at Dirty Diana take you all over the spectrum from the fiercest house and underground techno to c*nty ballroom chic in the basement. Upstairs you get the latest in trap, bounce and underground hip hop in the Banjee Bar; with regular live performances from up and coming queer hip hop acts, guest go-go dancers and performance artists from New York City, Paris and Berlin. Dirty Diana serves and never fails to deliver. 

Resident basement DJ, Frank.co Harris reflects on his unfathomable ability for tearing up the Laser basement: I literally get to play tracks from the stateside gay/ballroom scene and incorporate it into the ballsy techno and underground sounds that East London has come to appreciate. These kids literally dance, scream and slap the walls with excitement. You don’t get that energy at too many other parties. 

Join us at the final Dirty Diana at Dalston Superstore – DD XV – on Friday 31 July from 9pm-5am.  

How Do I Look

How Do I Look: Talking Ballroom with Wolfgang Busch

By Whitney Weiss

Documentary filmmaker/activist Wolfgang Busch started life managing bands in Germany, relocated to New York in the 1980s, and leapt right into nightlife and activism, the latter of which still keeps him busy on a daily basis. How Do I Look, his look into the voguing community of New York, is a deliberately constructed counterpoint to Paris is Burning and a selection at this year’s Fringe Film Festival. Ahead of the screening, he spoke candidly about New York in the ’80s and his experience with the politics of queer subcultures. 

How were you first introduced to the ballroom scene in New York?

In 1987, I saw my first ball by accident at the New York club Traxx. It was an Xtravaganza ball, and I experienced the magic of Dorian Corey, Pepper Labeija, Avis Pendavis and voguing legends Jose and David Ian Xtravaganza. I was so mesmerized and I remember saying to myself that I would love to work with this community one day.

In 1989, I created the New York Promoters League of NYC club promoters to raise funds for local charities and was introduced to Mike Stone, the youngest gay black promoter in NYC club history. We became friends and I learned about the discrimination in NYC clubs. At that time I was a club promoter and booking agent for the Limelight and I had access to all the clubs in Manhattan. I helped Mike to find clubs for his parties and we did parties together. Mike introduced me to the Ballroom icon/historian/activist/living legend Kevin Omni. Kevin educated me about ballroom history and introduced me to many icons and legends. I learned that the documentary Paris is Burning was rejected by the ballroom historians and many icons because of its imbalance and because it portrayed the community as thieves, prostitutes and drug users. Unfortunately, the public is not aware of this, because many people in the ballroom community have been selling out the community for personal gain and they continue to promote this film, which left behind many scars. Ballroom historians understand the positive in this film, but the exploitative elements in this film still affect this community.

And how did you decide to make a documentary about the ballroom scene?

Kevin asked me if I would be interested in doing another documentary about the ballroom community that would be cultural and educational. We had many meetings at the LGBT community center in NYC, which was attended by ballroom hall-of-famers Octavia St. Laurent, David Ultima, Junior LaBeija, Marcel Christian and Kevin Omni. We talked about what they wanted How Do I Look to be and we had many screenings to let the community know of the direction of the film and they gave me input at every step of the way. Nobody signed the agreement until the film was completed.. This is a rather unusual way of making a film, but due to the situation with Paris is Burning and the fact that Jeannie Livingston was sued by Octavia St. Laurent.

After its release, How Do I Look won best documentary and a Humanitarian Award from the Diaspora Film Festival in Berlin, Germany. It was screened worldwide.

Your approach to documentary filmmaking is about providing a spotlight for particular cultural communities. What inspired you to want to tell these stories?

My background was in entertainment. While I was growing up in Germany I worked as a DJ and a sound engineer touring mostly in Germany and Austria. The band Crypton I was working for had a black singer, Michelle from Boston, and I became the negotiator for her, because of my English-speaking background. I always had an attraction to the outrageous entertainers going back when I was as a booking agent at the Limelight in the 1980s. I moved to New York in my twenties and was very much attracted to the diversity of music that the city had to offer and the existence of its subcultures and underground movements. I was many times the only white boy in black and hispanic clubs. I wanted to know what makes a trend-setting community like the ballroom community or the leather community. 

During my time as a club promoter, booking agent and TV producer, I learned about the entertainment industry in New York City and learned about the disrespect and exploitation towards the artists, which was the opposite of what my experience was in Germany. I couldn’t get over the fact that the entertainment industry is so horrible towards artists, so I decided to kiss the corporate entertainment industry goodbye. I got involved in the Gay Lesbian American Music Awards (GLAMA), OutMusic, the Arts Project and Community Center on Fire Island Pines and Cherry Grove and The Imperial Court of NY. I wanted to build an infrastructure and fight for justice and empowerment while promoting natural artistic progression. 

Ross Infiniti

I know that you have definitely strong feelings about Paris is Burning. Plenty of people in the new ballroom scene have referenced the movie as something that they like, as something that introduced them to that world.

Right, there’s a motivation to do that because if they associate themselves with this film, which is internationally known, that’s how they then get gigs. I had conversations with these DJs and they will not quote the negativity from that, they will only talk about the positive side, they completely ignore what really leaves the scars behind. It’s unfortunate when you deal with a disenfranchised community, if you really understand what disenfranchised means, is that for a dollar they sell out their mother. And when you really understand the black community, with the history, with the slavery, so once you understand that whole part, then you then also understand that more educated people who support Paris Is Burning and support The Latex Ball and support the AIDS agencies, these are all people that are really only doing it to benefit financially and personally. It’s really unfortunate, and it’s so widespread now but only amongst the people who either benefit or the people that are like really on drugs and they really don’t care. 

Then of course what also happened with the AIDS agencies, and if you look at How Do I Look, people speak very critically of the AIDS agencies. And because I included that in the film, it was rejected by GMHC and the local AIDS agencies because, you know, they looked at that as some kind of attack towards their agency because people were telling the truth. So part of the reason why How Do I Look was never successful commercially is because it was blacklisted by these AIDS agencies. It makes sense. So, you know, you can see how they use their social status, these agencies, to boycott or blacklist or interfere with the arts or the truth and manipulation and all that comes into play. And that’s really really unfortunate. 

MYKE design, 2014

So in New York right now, who is throwing balls and who in the scene do you feel is really embodying the more sincere spirit for voguing?

There’s this disconnect between the old school and new school kids. The old school doesn’t respect the young kids, the young kids don’t respect the old school. So there has been this divide for the longest time, and when I produced the Ballroom Convention focusing on the history, which means more of the old school, it somewhat woke up lots of the old school people wanting to come out again. And then the convention was followed by the Omni Ball, focusing a lot on old school categories, bringing out some of the old school children again and some of the new school kids. That seemed to, somewhat revolutionary and a huge change, bringing back more of the old school categories and traditions. Because the new school kids don’t really have much respect for the old school. 

Who in New York do you think is doing good work to help with education without trying to turn taking care of things into a money-making business? Who is the non-profit that you support? Which organizations doing outreach in NY do you think are doing good work and doing work that’s based on helping the community? Who is making a real difference?

They all do good work, it’s not that they aren’t doing good work. They all do good work to an extent, but the question has become ‘at what cost?’ GMHC has food programs and provides condoms, that’s a great service. But on the other hand, they are cutting into the ballroom economics, they created their own subculture so they can continue to get the grants, so that is really the question. They are providing services, but the problem is at what cost. And that, at the end of the day, is the real question here. They are taking advantage of this community. The executive director makes $250,000, the COO makes $200,000, and then she goes to the media and complains because ‘we have to cut food programs for our clients because there were budget cuts.’ But they have $100,000 to produce the Latex Ball and give $5,000 on prize money. They have money for that. I’ve contacted so many people, like C Virginia Fields, she was the Manhattan borough president. The big leaders that we respect, the doctors, all these leaders, they all sell us out because they want to keep their 100,000 or 200,000 jobs and they give each other awards and rewards and parties so they can write about what a fabulous job they’re doing. And it’s nothing but a bunch of crap because they just keep hanging on to these jobs and exploiting communities and completely take advantage of it. And this is what it really comes down to. These respected people are the biggest sell-outs of the community.  

Aviance Milan

Do you think that underground communities like the ballroom scene will still be flourishing there in 15 years, or have things actually started to gentrify and change so much that working class artists/dancers/musicians/etc will be squeezed out?

The ballroom community with all the challenges it is facing right now with the AIDS agencies will continue to survive, because of its infrastructure it has created. Because of the discrimination and class divide in this country, they have to stick together and help each other, because they have all odds against them. 

In regards of making a dollar on their art? Now more people have the opportunity to travel and teach voguing. Is this enough, of course not, but when I look into the future and after the AIDS agencies will be no longer be able to divide the community and will no longer cut into the ballroom economy, the ballroom community will have a new beginning and hopefully with the right leadership, it will find its representation and support on the highest cultural and educational levels. I am so grateful that I am playing a part in this change now.

How Do I Look screens this Sunday 9th November at the Rose Lipman Building as part of Fringe Film Festival. 

All images courtesy of Wolfgang Busch

Amy Hall Balearic Knitwear

Dalston based knitwear designer Amy Hall has just launched her latest ss15 collection inspired by acid house and balearic raves. She’s also commissioned this mixtape from Homoelectric resident Jamie Bull based on the pieces in the collection and Amy’s love of old house records! 

We sat down with Amy for a chat to find out more about the inspiration behind the collection and her own personal acid house experiences…

What are your earliest acid house memories?

One of my earliest memories is probably the first time I heard Voodoo Ray on pirate radio. I thought it was the best thing I’d ever heard. Imagine my joy when you guys opened Voodoo Ray’s in Dalston!

You’ve woven British threads with British textile history- why is this so important to you personally?

The British textile industry is slowly making a comeback, thanks to demand from British brands and designers breathing new life (and money) into it. It’s a shame it ever had to die out in the first place – apart from a few places dotted across Scotland and the north, for a long while it almost ceased to exist. But now it is beginning to thrive again and this really excites me. Consumers in the UK are becoming increasingly concerned with provenance (especially after what happened in Bangladesh last year) and they’re realising they have significant power to make a difference. The reason it’s important to me, is because I don’t see why good quality clothing needs to impact on a person’s quality of life. It IS possible to produce beautiful clothing that’s made to last without paying someone a pitiful wage and making them work in dangerous conditions. Our knitwear is made by hand, using (mainly) British fibres and should, if you take care of it, last you a lifetime.

What drew you initially to knitwear?

I have knitted for as long as I can remember. My grandmother and my mum taught me when I was a child and I’ve carried on ever since. I graduated with a degree in photography and worked as a photographer for a few years but I lost my passion for it. After that the knitting took over. I realised there was a distinct lack of good quality knitwear available in shops at the time, so I decided to set up my own label, with a strong focus on quality and sustainability.

What’s the best industrial warehouse rave you’ve ever been to? 

The best one actually wasn’t in a warehouse, it was on the side of a cliff on the Isle of Wight on a particularly warm and beautiful night, a VERY long time ago…

Which artists soundtracked the design process and were specifically played to inspire?

I actually have Jamie Bull’s mixes on in the studio a lot (more of that in a minute). But specific tracks from that era that I love are Voodoo Ray, LFO, Papua New Guinea, Break of Dawn and a lot of the early Prodigy stuff.

Were you aiming for a more sun-kissed Ibiza beachwear Balearic vibe or a ’90s English summer free-party fashion look?

My plan for the collection started out with a very British rave-y vibe, but as the pieces developed I felt some of them had quite a beachy, summery feel to them, which made me think of Ibiza and the sort of wardrobe you might want while partying there.

Why did you ask Jamie Bull to make your accompanying mixtape?

I have been a big fan of Jamie ever since a friend introduced me to his HomoAerobic mix about four years ago. I have most of his mixes on my iPhone and basically alternate between those and BBC 6music while I’m working. So when I decided to approach someone about a musical collaboration for this collection, he was an obvious choice. I was honoured when he said yes!!

What’s your favourite piece from the collection? And what, for you, is the most wearable piece?

My favourite piece (which is probably the most wearable, too) is the ‘Space’ striped t-shirt dress. It’d look awesome with heels on a night out but works equally well thrown over leather trousers with flats for day. But I actually can’t stop wearing the ‘Halcyon’ wrap cardigan at the moment.

 Amy Hall AW14SS15-Space t-shirt dress

If you had a time machine and could go back to any dance floor anywhere/anywhen, where would you want to go to?

Bestival 2006, Carl Cox’s old skool set on the Sunday night. It was the perfect way to end a brilliant weekend and the best last night of a festival my mates and I have ever had.

Another one: in Bali, when I was at a beach club and Voodoo Ray (that one again!) came on as the sun came up. Crowd went wild. Amazing night. It may have even been my husband DJing, but my memory is a bit hazy…

What are the plans for your next collection – will you be going further back in time in UK music history and basing it on Northern soul?

Probably not, although this isn’t the first time I’ve been inspired by music when working on a collection. I have already started work on the Winter ’15 collection, but it’s going in a different direction this time. I’ve been looking at some of my archive pieces, but that’s all I can reveal at the moment.

Visit Amy Hall’s website: amy-hall.co.uk

John Lee Bird

It’s the beginning of the month, which can only mean one thing…! It’s almost time for another Pecker! Special guest Per QX joins Gibson and the Duchess Of Pork in  the laser basement whilst the top bar plays host to the madness that is Grizzle. Ahead of Friday’s party we caught up with Pecker poster artist John Lee Bird. With his own exhibition, Before Encore, coming up this month featuring a cast of familiar faces including Grizzle/Pecker duo John Sizzle and A Man To Pet, we decided to quiz him a little on his drawing processes, artistic inspirations and more!

What is your favourite piece of pop art, the piece that defines the style for you?

It has to be Warhol’s portrait of Marilyn Monroe. Simple, bold and brilliantly iconic.

Warhol's Marilyn

Do you prefer sketching from life or do photos work just as well for you?

I always work from photos, life drawing can be a bit embarrassing, I’m a bit too worried about staring too much…or looking in the ‘wrong’ place!

How long does the average portrait take you? What’s your process?

Once I’ve done the photoshoot I come home and make a simple line drawing, then refine that as I draw it onto the canvas. Some things need changing when you see a small drawing projected up onto a 5 and a half foot canvas, and the projecting process makes it easier for me to be more ruthless or considered with simple lines. They’re really controlled paintings so I like to make mess when I’m mixing up pots of the colours I need. I work for about 12 hours a day over the course of a week to get the paintings completed. Each colour requires at least 3 layers of paint and then the outlines takes about 3 or 4 days to finish. I haven’t got the steadiest hand so I blast out loud music while I paint to take away from the stress! 

What are some of your highlights from your latest Before Encore exhibition?

They’re all highlights, I can’t choose a family member over the other… haha!

Why these subjects?

I think they’re the best at what they do. I make a list at the start of each series and start pinning people down for photoshoots and then the list relaxes a bit; I tend to meet someone and then catch someone else performing and fall in love with them too, and as I’m there I rope them into the clan there and then…. so then the list grows. I’ve already written out a list for the next series (the 10 year anniversary of the project) and it features a few people that I wanted to catch with when I first started the project, so I won’t be able to deviate too much this time. 10 years waiting is long enough!

What besides people do you enjoy drawing?

It’s always people really. I’m always sketching faces, or sometimes stupid creatures – depending on how drunk I am.

What outside of art inspires you?

Music and performers and meeting people inspire me. I rarely go to art exhibitions. When I go out it’s to escape my studio so I’d rather go to a gig  or see a show. Before Encore is my way of making exhibitions entertaining. I like to see everything happening at once, and especially if you’re showing portraits; people can see the inspiration for the painting in the flesh, doing what they do best!

You’re the designer behind the amazing Pecker posters! Tell us what was the brief, what was A Man To Pet’s input into that brief, and how do you make them sleazier every month?

John Sizzle and A Man To Pet said they wanted something sexy with birds and cocks, some leather, jockstraps and sex, more sex and SEX! So I just started collaging bits together from leather mags and added birds heads, and slapped Sizzle and Pet’s heads (from their Before Encore portraits) onto any naughty bird I could find, it’s basically chicks with dicks (literally) at a leather bar with tongue firmly in butt cheek!

PECKER poster

What was the first piece of art that you saw in real life that really touched you?

Watching Derek Jarman’s Sebastiane when it was screened on Channel 4 when I was at school. I then found a book at the library and got completely obsessed. Derek’s films, with Simon Fisher Turner’s soundtracks, and Derek’s art and journals are pure heart-wrenchingly honest and full of sexy/angry joy. 

What can we do to get our mitts on your amazing Before Encore tea towels and tote bags?

I’ll be bringing a few to Pecker on the 6th June and handing out some flyers while I have a good gossip with Sizzle and Pet at the DJ booth. 

John Lee Bird's tea towel and tote bag

Then they’ll be on sale at the exhibition on the 20th/21st June at The Liquor Store, Stamford Works, Gillett Square, Dalston. Facebook event is here. It’s open to all, everyone is invited!

I’m looking forward to being able to wipe up some dirty dishes with Ma Butcher’s face, who could resist? That should be on everyone’s list of life’s simple pleasures!

Ma Butcher

Join John Lee Bird, John Sizzle and A Man To Pet this Friday 6th June at Pecker at Dalston Superstore from 9pm – 3am.

Visit John Lee Bird’s official website: johnleebird.com

Photo credit: Jonathan Dredge

Dalston Screentests

DALSTON SCREENTESTS EXHIBITION
Exhibition run: February 12th – May 11th, 2014
A two-part exhibition at Dalston Superstore & Stunt Dolly
Curated By: Ryan Lanji & Saskia Wickins

This February curators Ryan Lanji & Saskia Wickins unveil a two-part exhibition celebrating some of Dalston’s cultural icons through a modern interpretation of Andy Warhol’s iconic screen tests.

Between 1964 and 1966 in his studio known as ‘The Factory’ in New York City, Andy Warhol created over five hundred screen tests featuring anyone he deemed to have ‘star potential’

These silent film portraits not only remain a testament to his eye for celebrity but acted as a time capsule for the cultural fabric of New York in the sixties.

Dalston has been an area infused with creativity due to its continuous support for art and music. Over the past years it’s undeniable that this unique district of north-east London has unknowingly had the same Warholian effect on ostracised creatives in search for a home and an outlet for their eccentricities. Landmarks such as Dalston Superstore and new additions like Stunt Dolly have championed the heritage of Dalston and understand its strength as a culturally mosaic community.

Dalston Screentests will act as a two-part exhibition inviting eight of Dalston’s most iconic creatives to Stunt Dolly hair salon where they will be captured in a screen test. The silent film portraits will then be unveiled in Stunt Dolly and continue to Dalston Superstore where screen printer Cassandra Yap will transform the short portraits into artworks fusing Warhol, Dalston and it’s championed creatives.

The exhibition will run from February 12th till May 11th and is free for the public.

 RSVP for the private view & all other enquiries to:
 art@dalstonsuperstore.com or enquiries@ryanlanji.com

 PRIVATE VIEW: ITINERARY

PART I: The Screen Tests
Feb 12th 2014 – 6-8pm at Stunt Dolly Hair Salon

PART II: The Screen Prints
February 12th 2013 – 9pm – late

RSVP TO: info@stuntdolly.com

NOTE:
The Curator’s invite the exhibition spectators to walk as a collective to the second part of the private view creating a ‘Dalston Procession’. 

Hackney Pirates

As the English Disco Lovers prepare to throw their first fundraising Superstore party this Friday, we sought out the local charity set to benefit, the Hackney Pirates. A volunteer-run schemed now based in Dalston, the Hackney Pirates focus their efforts in developing the literacy skills of local children. Running primarily on donations, volunteers and crowd-funding, they’re all too happy to be involved with the party and answer our questions about it and their organisation!
 
How, when and why did the idea germinate for the Hackney Pirates?

Our founder lived in the area and was a teacher. She heard about some great projects in other areas that used volunteers from the local community to support children’s learning with extra one-to-one attention, and thought – Hackney people can be those people!

Why Hackney?

Because we have so many amazing people here who have both time and talent to give. There are so many resources hidden in our local community and we believe that we can untap them to support local young people.

If you could pick a song that sums up the ethos of the Hackney Pirates what would it be?

The Go Team! – The Power Is On 

 
Tell us about the Ship Of Adventures…

Fairly soon we will be moving into a four storey building on Kingsland High Street (and just opposite Dalston Superstore). We’ve “popped up” in seven different locations since we started so we’re incredibly excited to be granted a permanent home for The Hackney Pirates. It will allow us to expand the work that we do with schools and young people as well as try out some new things, like an event space and Shop of Adventures. 

Is it ship-shape(d)?

Yes! The current designs have the workshop space in the basement as an underwater cave environment with all kinds of sea life and giant octupuses. The ground floor will be the main deck and the upper floors will be reaching up the mast. They’re just designs at the moment, but we are pretty sure it’s going to look great. 

In your Indiegogo crowdfunding video for it, the kids asked local residents about adventures… what was the best one you heard?

Our neighbour from the local corner shop who told us with glowing eyes about an amazing trip she did a couple of years ago. Adventures makes people smile!

 

What’s the response been like from the community?

We knew that there were quite a few people who supported the work that we do based on how many people have got involved with volunteering, but we were quite stunned by people’s donations and comments. People who we didn’t know before have been very generous. It’s been really humbling. 

How did you guys come to work with the English Disco Lovers for this event?

One of the best things about working at The Hackney Pirates is that, quite often, the best things come from out of the blue. English Disco Lovers dropped us a line when they knew they were going to be at Dalston Superstore. They’d heard about what we do and knew that we were pretty near by. We play disco a fair bit in the office, so jumped on board immediately.

And sum up in one sentence why the Hackney Pirates need our donations…

Because all children deserve the chance to do well at school and to develop the skills they need for the real world (and because learning should always be a grand adventure)!

Join the Hackney Pirates this Friday 6th September for English Disco Lovers at Dalston Superstore from 9pm – 3am.