By Grace Goslin
Picture the scene. From 19th July, you can find yourself at a sweaty queer night completely captivated by the music, and wondering ‘how the hell did we cope without this?’ It’s been a year since any of us have seen the inside of a club and to say that our grand return is highly anticipated would be an understatement. For queer people clubbing isn’t just a night out, it’s a community space, it’s a chance to flirt, dance and exist at full capacity. That’s why we’ve created a list of our favourite queer nights from across the UK that plan to operate post-lockdown. Each with different attributes that make their nights, well... theirs. From too hot to handle lesbian nights, to 50’s focused queer balls, there’s something for everyone. Hear from the organisers themselves about what their nights mean to them, and get well and truly hyped for the unfiltered return of queer nightlife.
Supersonic Queer Ball -London
The Queer Ball is a quarterly LBGTQI+ event held at the Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club.
Our music policy is 50s & 60s and those attending enjoy dressing in the style from either era, and fancy dress is very much encouraged. We have performers from the community ranging from singers, Drag Kings, Burlesque, to ballroom dancers! The guests have included Don One, Sadie Sinner, Iron &Sparks, Adam All, Bunni, and Steven Lucas.
The venue is an old school working men’s club in the east end in London, where such events would off taken place in the past! It has all the feel of ballroom dance. The staff are super welcoming and always ensure we have a safe space to have a great night.
The Queer Ball was born when my business partner, Nikki Lucas, came to me with the idea. They weren’t entirely convinced that I might buy it but Immediately thought it was a great idea! We needed a different night on the scene, one that brought back music, performance and dancing. The selectors and DJs who play on the night only play on vinyl and play everything from Ska Beat, Rocksteady, Jazz, RnB, Gospel, Boogaloo (bugalu) to Dusty Springfield.
Each QueerBall we have a ‘Bucket Shake and rattle’: a fundraiser to raise money for worthy causes within our community. This has previously included UKBlack Pride, Opening Doors, Sophia Forum, Rebel Dykes and the Outside Project.
What’s been great about this event has been its immediate success! The QueerBall is a very eclectic mix of people within the LGBTQI+ community. We cross generations and the younger generation is ‘ready to rocksteady’ with the older generation! There is no other club like the QueerBall where you will find all genders and sexualities barefooting to the locomotion, Watusi to the Boogaloo (bugalu), one step shuffle to rocksteady, sliding footwork to northern soul and twisting to popcorn! We always have a ball.
We have the most amazing co-host in Stav B. Think the diversity of those involved has helped to widen the audienceNikki and I have been promoting as a duo for a number of years, we are old-timers.
Check out our Facebook page: QueerBall for our next event: (Provisional Next Event 2/10/21)
Queer Bruk - London
Founded in early 2018, Queer Bruk is a club night and platform for Queer People of Colour based in East London. Queer Bruk began as an inclusive night where LGBT+ people, specifically those of colour, are free to grind to Afro-Caribbean music safely and uninhibited by prejudice and hate.
I started Queer Bruk because I would go to dancehall nights and feel unsafe as a queer person, but then I would go to queer nights and feel invisible as a person of colour. Queer Bruk was my way of adding to the very few nights that exist that cater to QTIPOC - I also wanted to create something that wasn't just for gay men, that was for ALL people within the queer community.
In 2019, we shot an amazing video with i-D magazine at our event, it was so cool to see all these black and brown faces enjoying themselves captured on video. Another highlight was our last event on the last day of February 2020 - right before the world went into lockdown. It was a lot of people's last proper night out before the pandemic hit - we had over 500 people in attendance, live performances, and it was so much fun.
Femmme Fraiche - London
Fèmmme Fraîche is a Bi-Monthly club night and platform for queer women (trans and Nb inclusive) at Dalston Superstore. It’s primarily a fun, party for queer girls, trans, non-binary people and friends. We try to make it as safe space as possible for these folk and while we’re happy for others to come along, we ask them to respect the space and the need for its existence. We focused a lot on House and Techno music and booking incredible talented women DJ’s, both international headliners and supporting local grassroots talent. Luckily we do have two floors, so as well as house/techno, there’s a fun trash-tastic floor for sing-a-long kitchy moments, which is a fun dichotomy. At each event, we also have different gogo-dancers and performers and try to showcase as much local creative queer talent as possible. I do all of our artwork and socials, but any illustrators or designers, photographers and pretty much anyone involved in the night are always queer womxn.
My co-promoter Sandra used to run a legendary queer Disco / House club night in East London called Dick & Fanny several years back, I was a regular DJ and after their final party, she told me I should be taking over now and start running events, because there weren’t enough options for queer women, especially when it comes to good house music. A Year later a DJ friend of hers Alinka was coming over from the US to visit London, Sandra got in touch asking if I was running any nights Alinka could play at, which I wasn’t, so Sandra & I had a chat and decided to throw caution to the wind and run one for while Alinka was in town, and see how it went. It was a huge hit and at the time, there really wasn’t any other queer girl parties that had House, Techno or that kind of music… That was back in April 2015 at the Star Of Bethnal Green. After several more successful parties, Dalston Superstore heard about it and approached us asking us to run something similar there, and Fèmmme Fraîche was born.
Honey Dijon headlining our Jan 2017 party was pretty epic, there was just so much love and electric energy in the room. It was heaving and there were queues all the way down the street all night. Another pretty special one, was at our original party, our pal Kim Anh from LA played, and she bought down her friend Vula (Basement Jaxx vocalist) she jumped on the Mic and started freestyling these incredible vocals and just tore the house down.
We have an event booked in for May already, a socially distanced one which actually sold out in 24hrs and we’re just holding out for dates for when the clubs open again properly, hoping to return to our bi-monthly events as before. I’d love to expand and look at running some collaborative events with other queer parties too, maybe some larger-scale events as well.
Before the pandemic, we were still one of the only House focused queer girl parties, quite a few other great queer women-focused nights were starting to pop up on the scene that focused more on Techno, like Big Dyke Energy, Koodeta, Boudica which is great to see. It’s hard to know what the landscape will look like once the pandemic is over. I’m also really consciously aware to be as intersectional as possible with regards to our line-ups and think outside the box, not just booking the same names and same people over again - we never book guest DJ’s twice – there’s just so much talent out there that needs to be platformed. The fact that we try to use the night as a platform for championing new talent and platforming as many creative womxn as possible, while still at heart remaining just a fun party for people to come to, brings a unique community feel to our event too. It really runs with a lot of love, care and a general desire to make something special for the queer community.
Lick club night - London
LICK is a nightclub event centred towards queer women, our main event is in London but we sometimes tour other cities too selling out 2-3000 tickets usually in the first 24 hours of ticket sales making it one of the UK’s biggest nightclub events. We specialise in Hip-hop, RnB, bashment and dancehall.
I moved from Cornwall to London to work in London’s only lesbian bar, it was crap but I absolutely loved it because it was much more than I’d ever had growing up in Cornwall, around 6 months later I lost my job and I was so fuming I walked straight across the road to the bar opposite and asked to do a competitive night against them, I called it C U Next Tuesday and never looked back!
In the process, I got banned from most venues in Soho and was told I was ‘bringing the wrong crowd to the area’ which of course pushed me to make it even bigger as a big ‘fuck you’, it was difficult because nobody wanted to work with us and clubs would cancel last minute but I always somehow managed to run around and find an alternative. I care about LICK and the people that attend beyond belief and do everything I can to make sure people have the perfect experience. (And usually, dig myself into a hole of stress and anxiety when one little thing like the lighting isn’t right at the beginning of the night, aha, but there has never been a bad event so the precision must be working!
A few highlights would probably be the first event that was ever big, about a week before pride (when I never used to plan anything in advance) I realised oh shit it’s pride coming up I should probably do an event! So I booked a club 5 times the size we had ever used before, it sold out instantly and that was a big growing point.
I’d also say one of my favourites ever was the last event of 2019, it was at electric Brixton and we booked Ms Banks to perform, I was standing up in one of the old theatre towers and looked down on 2000 people having the time of their lives and just thought ‘wow, I did that!’
Announcing we had booked Young MA in January 2020 was huge too! We had also booked Mya and Saweetie but unfortunately, they got cancelled due to COVID.
Post lockdown, I’m hoping everything will miraculously go back to normal, I won’t be doing any events until we can because I don’t want a half capacity low background music event for the sake of it, I want to come back Bigger and better or nothing at all.