A Tour of Paris’ Next-Generation Club Scene, Where Inclusivity Reigns Supreme

Lead photo by Roddy Bow, all other photos by the author 

“Of course we are feminists, because we are girls and want to be respected. But we don’t want [others] use it as, ‘Oh they’re girls it’s so trendy,'” says Pauline Ferrandiz, looking up from her plate of fried pork and sticky rice cakes. It’s an afternoon in late March, and I’m in Paris’ Belleville neighborhood, scarfing down lunch in a Chinese restaurant called Mian Guan with Paris-based female DJ collective These Girls Are on Fiyah (TGAF). Ferrandiz, better known by her stage name DJ Ouai, is a member of the group, along with Aurore Dexmier (AKA Miley Serious), Nina Orliange (AKA Carin Kelly), and Marylou Mayniel (AKA Oklou). The Chinese restaurant is one of TGAF’s haunts; they affectionately renamed “#46” after their favorite dish to eat between sessions at their studio in an artist squat a few blocks away.

Though TGAF is now a force in Paris’ next-generation club scene—playing shows all over the city, broadcasting their weekly show on local radio, and debuting mixes on stations like BBC—the collective’s beginning was nearly accidental. In 2015, Mayniel was invited to do a Sunday guest spot on French internet radio station PIIAF, and told she could invite friends. Mayniel brought Dexmier, Orliange, and Ferrandiz, who were merely acquaintances at the time. While they came to provide moral support, the other girls ended up hopping behind the decks as co-performers for the hour. The group’s chemistry and diverse musical tastes were infectious, and they were soon offered their own show. Now happening weekly, TGAF’s Sunday hour on PIIAF is an eclectic mix of pop, experimental music, and house.

TGAF’s rise over the past few years is happening in tandem with the next evolution of Paris’ underground party scene, where the inclusive, DIY spirit of the 90s is making a comeback after years of restrictive legislation and stuffy club culture. “The parties that represent the best of this spirit [of inclusion] are mostly organized by LGBTQ. That’s a fact,” says Mayniel. TGAF cites parties like PARKINGSTONE and I’ve Seen the Future as prime examples of events that are creating spaces that are both accepting and musically divergent.

Paris nightlife has taken many shapes. During the Belle Époque, the city made its name as a center of free expression in the aftermath of the Franco-Prussian war. In the 90s, it birthed the distinct French house sound with acts like Daft Punk, and nurtured a vibrant scene of underground raves and clubs like Le Palace and Rex. But in the early 2000s, the scene slipped into a stupor due to noise restrictions, limited opening hours, and gentrification—earning titles like “European capital of sleep” from its frustrated club community. It all came to a head in the late-2000s, when a group of promoters, DJs, and club owners started to call for the re-evaluation of restrictive legislation suffocating local club culture. Working with the local government, they established The Council of the Night, which meets to ensure the city’s nightlife policies are keeping things both safe and fun.

Today, local nightlife is graduating from the dress-shirt-required clubs of the recent past. A more musically and culturally diverse scene is cropping up throughout the city, centered around roving parties where partygoers in sneakers dance to experimental tracks culled from around the world. “We like clubs that mix several kinds of music. It can be dancehall, RnB, house, techno, different kinds of African rhythms. That’s richest thing we can find,” says Mayniel of what TGAF looks for in a night out. While no scene is perfect, venues are also becoming safer places for POC, women, and the LGBTQ community, with the TGAF crew crediting online communities that allow people to discuss harassment and discrimination without relying on the often unreliable systems set up by clubs and promoters for these problems.

The newfound diversity of the city’s after-dark scene affords TGAF a certain amount of freedom—to start a DJ collective nearly by accident, be passionate about both top 40 hits and obscure producers, and focus on the music they make instead of the pronouns they use.

Finishing the last bits of our fried pork, the TGAF crew and I head out into the busy Sunday streets for a tour of all the spots—from their studio in an abandoned high school to local radio stations—that are cornerstones for the next generation of Parisian party goers.

1. La Java nightclub 

Aurore Dexmier: It’s cool because it’s in an old building of Paris with kind of modern art stuff, like two staircases and these big windows. It’s a big space, and it can get crowded. They have live shows before it turns into a club, and when you play there, the bass is really nice because it’s kind of space-y. Musically, it’s very open minded. You have techno house stuff—

Nina Orliange: But you can also go to Latino parties [at the club] to dance flamenco. Actually it’s weird because you can find this club in guide books, so there’s a lot of different people. I never understand the audience.

Pauline Ferrandiz: Sometimes people come because they like the party. Sometimes they’re in the neighbourhood and saw the club. It’s cheap and it’s a good mood. You can chill on the couch or go and dance, and you can get in with sneakers, or drunk.

Marylou Mayniel: We follow DJs and parties, not venues. We discovered the club because the Bye Bye Oceans [a seminal new-gen party] is thrown over there. But it’s different from other clubs because La Java already has an established reputation and it’s a downtown club that has been there for so many years. So it’s a bit harder to gain the owner’s trust.

2. PIAFF radio

From the left: Pauline Ferrandiz, Nina Orliange

Dexmier: PIAFF is an internet radio like Rinse or something. They are private so they really work to get their slots good, and they have really good intentions. They’re a part of a different scene than we are, they listen to different music, which is why they’re interested in our show.

Ferrandiz: It’s really eclectic and there are lots of talk shows, which is different from a lot of the other online radio stations I listen to like NTS, Rinse, and Radar. You also have writers and journalists doing shows. It’s not only a music radio, they are trying to offer lots of stuff.

Dexmier: Piaff likes us for how relaxed we are. It’s like listening to your friends on the radio, because sometimes we just talk about what happened last night when we were partying. We’re almost gossiping sometimes. It’s like a slumber party on the radio. We don’t hide that our first crush in life was pop music. Everybody was talking about the show we did on Justin Bieber. Just because we’re four girls in this kind of [underground] scene doesn’t mean we can’t talk about how he’s a genius.

Orliange: We want to discover things from others. It’s about sharing everything.
Ferrandiz: We don’t want to be inaccessible. Yes we know things, but we don’t know everything, and we don’t want people to think we know everything. Like, we aren’t music historians.

Orliange: But we try to do our best, we’re not just chilling like, “ah I like this,” and making no sense. We try to do our best to reflect on the music and what it represents.

3. Le DOC artist squat 

From the left, Pauline Ferrandiz, Aurore Dexmier, Nina Orliange

Marylou Mayniel: The building is actually an old abandoned high school, so it’s huge and there are many rooms. It was discovered two years ago by some guys who are like some kind of squat masters [ laughs]. They created an association named DOC, and started to look for artists and crews to start flooding the place. Me and two friends applied to create a music space. We got the basement, which is perfect to make noise. For [TGAF], it’s a secured place where we can practice DJing whenever we want, or just meet and make music.

4.  La Chinois bar 

Marylou Mayniel

Mayniel: This venue is cheap to rent for people who want to organize parties with small budgets. The owner of the bar must be quite open-minded, and that’s so cool because it’s a place where you can find salsa, and the day after, you have some very dark experimental night, and the night after, you have a gay party where everyone is dressed up. Montreuil is a cheap neighbourhood. It’s very popular, it’s very simple, it’s dirty. And the owners are not trying to pimp the place or whatever, but it’s big inside.

Ferrandiz: [La Chinois] is important to the Paris scene because it doesn’t work as a typical club and requires a certain open-mindedness. It helps to understand that having fun on a Saturday night is not necessarily listening to 135 BPM songs all night. You can also be carried by the atmosphere and the emotion. The music here is always complemented by other artistic dimensions like performance, projection, and scenography.

5. Rinse Radio France

Dexmier: Unlike the other spots we’ve been talking about, Rinse is not a place where you can go and play whatever you want, because you have to be invited by Rinse. It’s one of the biggest electronic radios in France, so I think for everybody [here] it’s the first one to push another side of the club scene in Paris.

Ferrandiz: It’s like the reference for club music in Paris. I think the people that run Rinse France are more into house and techno, so the people listening to Rinse France are more interested in house and techno. I like Betty‘s show because she’s into [our] scene and she invites really cool people like DJ Deeon. She was in Girls Girls Girls before. Aurore has a residency now on Rinse, and she was part of the Women’s Day thing recently where they had some lectures and live sets [on air].

Dexmier: [Rinse] give attention to small people in Paris trying to do their things, and on my show I get to invite whoever I want. For the Women’s Day [program], I was representing TGAF. It was important to connect all the female musicians in Paris.

Upcoming TGAF dates: 
April 20 : TGAF @ Salo for ORLAN 
April 28 : TGAF @ Le Klub
July 8 : TGAF @ The Peacock Society

Why A Women’s Strike In The Music Industry Is Much Gutsier Than It Seems

Lead image via Public Domain Pictures

It’s 7AM on March 8 in Los Angeles and Judy Miller Silverman is not checking her email. New York, Australia, and England are all hours ahead in business, as usual, and press releases have to be sent, pitches followed up on, clients managed. Normally, as the founder and head of her own music publicity company Motormouthmedia, Judy would be handling all of these things by 7:01AM. But not today. Today, she’s on strike.

As a follow-up to the unprecedented, millions-strong Women’s March on January 21, that protested the Trump administration’s stance on issues affecting women, organizers called for a general women’s strike on International Women’s Day. Calling it “A Day Without a Woman,” strike organizers hope to send a statement about women’s equality in the workplace. The organization’s mission statement for the strike is to recognize “the enormous value that women of all backgrounds add to our socio-economic system–while receiving lower wages and experiencing greater inequities, vulnerability to discrimination, sexual harassment, and job insecurity.”

It’s this mission that fuels Judy Miller’s participation in the strike, too, as well as her decision to shut down her whole office in solidarity.

“I’m truly striking because I am a huge believer that women play a hugely important role in the world and in society,” says Miller. “I’m sick and tired of making less and being treated as less and not having the opportunities that I truly do believe. I believe I’m a privileged person, but I’ve worked very hard for it, and I do believe that there are opportunities that don’t come my way because of my sex.”

For the past 20 years, Judy Miller Stevenson has run Motormouthmedia, a music publicity firm with clients that have included Aphex Twin, Animal Collective, Flying Lotus, and other heavy hitters across the spectrum of underground and pop music. She employs a staff and has worked for herself for most of her life, but that has not insulated her from the sexism that pervades the music industry.

“I’m constantly breaking down in my head how few women there are at certain places I deal with,” said Miller. “And it really starts to weigh on you.”

Today, while on strike, she said she’ll be thinking about all the teams she’s been on where she’s the only woman. Or perhaps her former boss who made outrageous demands using abusive language. There’s also been the cigar-scented business meetings from which she’s been excluded, and the male label head who wanted to fire his publicist because she was a mom and couldn’t “hang.”

Miller feels incredibly lucky to run her own business and have colleagues, male and female, who prioritize equality in the workplace. But as a boss, she wanted to send a strong message to the male-dominated industry in which she operates about the crucial role women play.

“It’s funny because when we talked about the strike and decided to do it,” says Miller. “Everybody was like, ‘Oh my god, I’ve got to get all my work done.'”

Despite the liberal reputation of arts-centered businesses, from statistics about gender distribution and women’s anecdotal experience, the decision to strike on behalf of women’s rights in the music industry is a bold one. A strike is effective when mass-participation reveals that power resides in the workers, not the bosses who cut checks. But as Miller pointed out, the music industry is one in which people will sacrifice much for just the chance to participate. That sentiment is amplified for women who disproportionately occupy jobs in public relations, which Miller said people see as a “silly” function. Miller noted that some in the music industry even refers to PR as the “women’s ghetto.”

“I would say in some other industries women might be more irreplaceable,” said Miller. “We want to send that message, but I think so many people feel like, if you’re not going to do it, someone else will.”

It is precisely this notion of replaceability that makes Miller’s and other women’s decision to strike in the music industry an important one. The scramble to get work done in advance of a strike speaks to the need women in the industry have to never falter in the value they provide, so that they’re not replaced by someone else eager to prove her value.

“We’re important,” said Miller. “Any time there’s an opportunity to make a gesture and have your voice heard, I want to do it.”

You can follow other coverage of the women’s strike under the hashtag #ADayWithoutAWoman. Happy striking.

Artist Of The Year: The Black Madonna On The Beautiful Paradox Of Being A Catholic DJ

To look back on this long year, we’re paying tribute to some of the people who shaped the look, sound, and feeling of club culture in 2016. Today, The Black Madonna (n Marea Stamper) is THUMP’s Artist of the Year.

The Chicago-based DJ and producer’s recent, meteoric rise to global superstar comes at a turbulent time when the rave scene needs politically “woke” figures like her the most. Whether she’s throwing down jubilant house and disco-leaning sets, on the dancefloor hugging her fans, or speaking out against bigotry, Stamper is always fully and passionately engaged, driven by her belief that dance music is a haven to outcasts of all genders, races, and walks of life. Despite her undeniably huge year, she also remains resolutely humble. I’ll never forget her response when I told her, earlier this year at a festival, how much I looked up to her. “Honey,” she said with a laugh, “you need better role models.”

Below, Stamper writes about one of her own role models within the Catholic churchthe Black Madonna icon that inspired her DJ aliasas well as her messy, often contradictory, quest to reconcile her faith and her feminism.Michelle Lhooq

The Black Madonna: I am a terrible, no good, petulant, freerangeyet somehow still practicingCatholic. As a progressive and a feminist, I disagree with the church on more things than I can count. Yet the iconography, ritual, and allegory Catholicism has found its way into almost every piece of art I’ve ever made. My Catholic faith is a part of me and there’s no getting away from it.

My family’s religious roots started with my grandfather, who had a mystical experience as a young man. Before that, he had wanted to be a sports announcer on the radio (Kentucky Wildcats basketball, if anyone’s asking!). But one day, he said he heard God’s voice clearly directing him to become a minister. The experience changed the course of his life forever, leading him to become a Methodist minister before eventually joining the Catholic church.

The rest of my family went along with him. I grew up going to Holy Cross church in Jackson, Kentucky, and I loved everything about it. The rituals. The singing. The scholarly tradition within the church. The simple, gentle act of turning to your neighbor and saying, “Peace be with you.” I became friends with a nun and dreamed secretly of wearing her habit someday myself. I was a bad student. Sister Wendy said it didn’t matter if I could say the Ten Commandments as long as I knew that God loved me. And I did know it. I felt accepted, loved and a part of something much bigger.

For my progressive family, God was synonymous with mercy, service, social justice, scholastic life and art. My grandparents fed and sometimes even housed students who didn’t have quite enough money for books and food. They were active in the civil rights movement. My grandfather had the kind of faith that made you feel good just being around him. It wasn’t fussy, or chaste or conservative. He was friends with the Catholic writer and monk Thomas Merton, and he corresponded with C.S. Lewis. Our dinner table was always full of family, as well as visiting theologians and professors on occasion, debating into the night long after dinner was done. But late in his life, when recounting that first mystical experience to me, my grandfather admitted, almost incredulously, that God had never spoken directly to him again the way he had when. When I heard this, I couldn’t believe that God would speak once to someone, change their whole life, and then go radio silent. It seemed like such a betrayal.

I poured myself into dance music and discovered God isn’t silent. God is loud.

As I got older and grew into a passionate young feminist grappling with my own queer identity, I found that God wasn’t “speaking” to me in the way he once had either. The idyllic experiences of my childhood church life didn’t jive with the values I’d developed as an adult. I wasn’t alone; the hope that many Catholics had held for progressive reform within the church, including allowing women to be ordained as priests after Vatican II, had not materialized. In fact, as the AIDS crisis grew in the eighties, the church made a hard right turn, with reprehensible, inhumane stances on birth control which doomed untold lives. As I matured, I barely saw myself reflected in the faith that had meant so much to me as a girl. While other Catholics protested abortion, I worked for abortion rights and distributed condoms. It was clear that I would never be Catholic with a capital “c” again.

My faith and my reason were in painful conflict, and reason was winning.

Thank God I found dance music.

The connection between house music and gospel is well documented. Frankie Knuckles, for example, described Chicago nightclub The Warehouse as “church for people who have fallen from grace.” My heart, hungry for that feeling of transcendence and acceptance again, zoned in on this connection immediately. I loved everything about dancing. The records booming out of a speaker. For the next twenty years, I poured myself into dance music and discovered that for me, God isn’t silent. God is loud.

Going out to the club became a new kind of ritual, akin to attending mass as a child. There were so many analogs for my early spiritual life waiting for me on the dancefloor, including the simple, gentle act of turning to your neighbor and hugging them simply because you’re having the same beautiful experience. Indeed, many of the most powerful experiences of spiritual connection have happened on a dancefloor. I am at my most in-tunemy best selfwhen the music lifts the whole room together, and all the separations between us dissolve for a little while.

The Black Madonna resonates with me because she is a more humanized depiction of the Holy Mother. She is simple and humble.

You might expect that dance music would completely replace my complicated relationship with Catholicism. But I found thatin spite of my firmly held disagreements with the churchthe ritual, contemplation, and allegory of my faith continued to provide guidance and comfort to me. Whereas nightlife can be joyful yet transitory, my faith keeps me tied to more permanent traditions and to my family. Often, I find myself resolving conflicts between the two parts of myself, as a Catholic and a musician, in my work. I have accepted that the symbology and ritual faith are here to stay, while casting out the parts which are no longer acceptable to me as a rational, compassionate adult.

Many aspects of my work and my spiritual life are deeply connected. The name I perform under is a reference to European statues or paintings of the Virgin Mary dating back to the medieval period or earlier. The tradition of this icon is ubiquitous in Catholic and Orthodox countries in Europe, where they primarily appear. She is the national icon of Poland, the patron saint of Catalonia in Spain, and there are 200 Black Madonnas in France alone. Black Madonna icons are often particularly associated with miracles, sudden endings of wars, and political struggles for freedom. The color is a result of these icons typically being made of dark wood or stone, or turning dark over time from candle smoke and sometimes then reproduced, but they carry deep mystery within them.

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As with many other elements of Christian (and especially Catholic) iconography, this Madonna has much older roots in European pagan imagery and practice. Time and time again we find la moreneta sites directly on top of ancient temples of goddess worship. For example, the shrine at Montserrat, thirty miles outside of Barcelona, Spain, one of the most visited of these vierges noires, was previously a Roman temple to Venus. My mother and I visited her on pilgrimage there last year. It was the trip of a lifetime.

My name, on one hand, is in honor of my own mother and this aspect our family’s tradition, my identity, and the saint that I remain personally most devoted to. One of my most treasured belongings is a book about the Black Madonna passed with an inscription from my grandfather to my mom, and then to me about 25 years ago. But past the familial bond, the Black Madonna resonates with me because she is a more humanized depiction of the Holy Mother, in comparison to her more bejeweled and extravagantly decorated counterparts in Catholic art. She is simple and humble. She tells our stories, as well as a story which is much older. Her iconography is steeped in mysterya central value of the Catholic faith. She is our earth mother. She is loved. She is the peacemaker, the heroine. She is meek, yet miraculous.

Just as Venus was adopted by the church and became a new kind of goddess, The Black Madonna is a goddess archetype that resonates not only within my faith but with people outside of it. This is good. I belong to a faith, but that faith does not belong to me, and I would not presume to tell another person how to walk their own spiritual path or what any symbol should mean to them. I describe my own culture and our traditions, but I do not erect a theological boundary around them.

Synchronizations and iterations of tradition are a part of how we look for God; God makes us in his image and then we remake God in our own. We seek the magic and the symbols that resonate with our own lives. We burn sage and Palo Santo after a bad breakup. We meditate. We go to yoga and some of us pray the rosary. The tools of spiritual practice help us try to make sense of a world which does not make sense. It’s a messy quest but a worthy one.

My faith is not a promise to agree with the old men in charge.

For Catholic women like me, in our own messy quests for the divine, contradiction is unavoidable. We deal heavily in paradox because we have towe have had damn near every trace of the average human woman wiped from the Bible, yet here we are. The few relatable women we see in our faith are often unfairly besmirched in our communities, as Mary Magdalene once was. We look for remnants of these women in the shadows of the gospel.

When I think about the search for the feminine in a decidedly patriarchal body like the Catholic Church, or dance music for that matter, I am reminded of the feminist poet and essayist Adrienne Rich, who wrote, “We are, I am, you are by cowardice or courage the one who find our way back to this scene carrying a knife, a camera, a book of myths in which our names do not appear.” In both dance music and the church, I seek our names, our mythology. I want to be transformed, and I want to transform the people around me. I search for peace and mercy.

I guess at this point, I would describe myself as a Christian humanist who happens to practice Catholicism. My faith isn’t so much about magic, the supernatural, or big guys in the sky. If there’s a mystical component, I think of it more like the Force in Star Wars“an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together.” Like my grandfather’s, my faith is more interested in the humanity of the gospel, Christ’s revolutionary social ideas, and the concept of grace, embodied perfectly for me by Mary. I long ago ditched religious dogma in favor of universal human dignity, individual freedom, and service to others.

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Many, many Catholics are progressive just like me. Many American nuns in particular are deeply involved in social justice, feminist activism, and other causes close to my heart. We progressive Catholics oppose the death penalty and war. We believe in science and reason. We believe that poverty is a moral issue that we are all called upon to resolve. We are pro-choice because we believe that the sanctity of life cannot be reduced to a medical decision that should between a woman, her doctor and her own faith. We believe showing mercy is an imperative and showing judgment is forbidden. We are working hard for reform in the church, women’s ordination, and total inclusiveness. There are promising signs of change, but there’s a long, long way to go.

Yet, in spite of my remaining deep conflict with aspects of the church, the rituals of communion and other practices are concrete traditions that tie me to my family, faith and community. Communion connects me directly to grace. My faith is not a promise to agree with the old men in charge. My shrine at home has statues of the Holy Mother from around the world, pictures of my family, and votive candles with images of Freddie Mercury and Divine on them. There’s room for everyone, and doubt is welcome. I don’t profess to have a single view of religion and my own perspective is sure to evolve. I am a daily meditator, and like Merton, I find a close connection between the contemplative aspects of the Catholic tradition and Buddhism.

Rather than coming into conflict with my life as a DJ, Catholicism complements it. For me, an ideal life nourishes both kinds of spiritual experiences. And when all’s said and done, whether I’m in meditation, prayer, on a dancefloor, or in the DJ booth, the goal is still to turn to my neighbor, whoever they are, and say, “Peace be with you.”

Follow The Black Madonna on Twitter

A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, From The Club

The author, finding her way back home from a club (Photo by Leona Goto)

A girl walks home alone at night from the club. Her aching feet are caving in, but she crosses the city like it’s a race course. The finish line is her front door.

Seconds after leaving the club, she realizes that her crop top might as well say “PLEASE CATCALL ME.” As the fuzzy warmth of the dancefloor sharpens into cold paranoia, she hears a rustling sound and whips her head back, hoping it’s leaves moving in the breeze. She sees a man trailing behind her. Is he following me?

A silent scream blooms in her throat, and she instinctively clutches her keys, sweaty fingertips grazing their jagged edges, wondering if they are sharp enough to slash through skin. Abandoning decorum, she sprints into her building, and as the door clicks behind her, she dry heaves in a pool of her own sweat, thinking, I should have Ubered.

If you’re a woman who has ever walked home alone after a night out, you’re probably familiar with this experience, marked by an omnipresent fear of being harassed, mugged, or sexually assaulted. One evening, when I was 16 and living in Tokyo, a strange man wordlessly followed me from the train station to my house; I hid in the bushes, shaking, until he left. A few years ago, in Brooklyn, I was walking to a Halloween party when a guy behind me suddenly shoved me to the asphalt and snapped my purse off my shoulders as I picked myself off my bloodied knees. “‘Be safe,’ people invariably tell me whenever I leave a place on foot around midnight,” wrote VICE’s Megan Koester, who was walking home when she was attacked by a man in Washington State. “At best, the words sound like a challenge; at worst, a threat. Regardless of their intent, they are meaningless. It is impossible for a woman to ever truly be safe.” For all women regardless of whether they’ve been assaulted, paranoia isn’t irrationalit’s a safety mechanism.

Walking back after a party isn’t always this scary, of course. Sometimes, it’s mind-numbingly uneventful. Other times, it’s the victory lap of a legendary night outlike the time me and my friends spilled out of Amnesia’s season closing party in Ibiza surrounded by thousands of sweaty Euros, whooping as we darted through traffic.

Photo via Thomas Hawk/Flickr

Back in May, my THUMP UK colleague Angus Harrison wrote about the joys of walking home from the club with friends, which he called one of summer’s most under-celebrated pursuits. As an unmistakable autumn chill creeps into the air, walking home might be the best way to relish the last golden days of summer. “Before you know it, it’ll all be gone,” Angus wrote. “The nights will go back to puddles and pissy urinals and over-priced cars. The smell of pollen and suncream will be replaced with damp and deodorant,”and you’ll be back to “shuddering at frosted bus stops.”

“The walk home is not for the faint of heart,” Angus warned. But for the brave few, he suggests, the rewards are plenty, including the chance to work off those uppers, experience a different side of the city where you live, and get to know your friends outside the deafening pummeling of a 4/4 kick drum.

Most importantly, Angus writes, the walk home is a time for whimsyit is “a safe space for meandering chatter, nude runs through car-parks and cross-legged silences on bowling lawns.”

Angus’ essay is beautiful and heartfeltI highly encourage you to read it, if you haven’t already. However, being able to walk home from the cluband enjoy itis not a privilege afforded to everyone. Late-night strolls may represent a safe space for meandering chatter and nude runs for some, but in my experience, it isn’t always a safe space if you’re a womanespecially if you’re a woman on her own.

One of our readers, a journalist covering women’s issues for the Daily Mail named Lauren Ingram, was the first to point out this reality on Twitter:

“A man may not realize it, but if he’s following me for more than a block down the street at night, I realize that,” Lauren said when I reached out to her last week over email asking if she could elaborate on her tweet. “I am watching him, I am aware, I am scared. For him, he’s probably taking no notice. But his presence makes me feel less safe, and with good reason.”

Meanwhile, Lauren’s tweet sparked a heated debate on the dangers of that late-night walk home for men versus women online. One woman disagreed with Lauren, tweeting that it was time to “stop using rhetoric of safety to justify limiting women’s freedom of movement.” “White women are basically the most safe on the streetsand it’s not actually any more dangerous for women to be out alone than it is for men,” she added, linking to an Everyday Sociology blog post that analyzes the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ National Crime Victimization Survey.

A male user pointed out that actually, he was more likely to be attacked on the streets because “78% of violent crime victims are men,” referring to the same Bureau of Justice Statistics survey. He was quickly rebuffed by another man, who noted that while gang violence is overwhelmingly male, if you take murder out of the equation, women are much more likely to be raped and assaulted in their lifetime. (In the United States, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence says 1 in 5 women have been raped, versus 1 in 71 men.)

One user even remarked that we might all be equally screwed: according to Freakonomics co-author and University of Chicago economist Steven Levitt, drunk walking is apparently even more dangerous than drunk driving.

With all these wildly differentand seemingly validperspectives flying around, I decided to rely on every journalist’s favorite fallback in times of great uncertainty: the data. I discovered that how safe you are walking home from the club is a complex issuedependent not only if you’re a man or a woman, but on your economic class, race, age, and geographic location.


A 2011 Gallup poll comparing how safe men and women feel walking home alone, in various countries

Yes, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ National Crime Victimization Survey, it is true that males are more likely to be victims of violence on the streets than femalesbut only if we’re talking about assault, robbery and homicide, with the exception of rape and sexual assault, which is a pretty damn big exception. Those aged 24 and below are victimized more often than older people, and African-Americans are more likely to be attacked on the streets than Caucasians.

Perhaps most interestingly, according to a Gallup poll, women in first-world countries are likely to feel less safe than men walking home alone at night, while the gender gap in second and third-world countries is more on-par. (In the United States, 62 percent of women feel safe, versus 89 percent of men; in China, it’s 77 percent women versus 82 percent men.) The theory is that as countries develop economically and socially, there is a higher expectation for physical security in the general public, though women are less likely to feel like those expectations are being met.

That last bit of datathat women feel less safe than men walking homeis, to me, the one that hits home hardest. Safety is a feeling, not a statistic. When I’m walking home, I don’t give a shit about whether surveys say I’m more or less likely to be assaulted than my male friends. Like Angus, I want to savor that last rush of the night by running nude through car parksnot having a panic attack every time I hear footsteps shuffling too close behind me. The power of the dancefloor is its promise of total freedom. I want that feeling to extend beyond the club’s doors.

Michelle Lhooq is THUMP’s Features Editor. Follow her on Twitter.

A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, From The Club

The author, finding her way back home from a club (Photo by Leona Goto)

A girl walks home alone at night from the club. Her aching feet are caving in, but she crosses the city like it’s a race course. The finish line is her front door.

Seconds after leaving the club, she realizes that her crop top might as well say “PLEASE CATCALL ME.” As the fuzzy warmth of the dancefloor sharpens into cold paranoia, she hears a rustling sound and whips her head back, hoping it’s leaves moving in the breeze. She sees a man trailing behind her. Is he following me?

A silent scream blooms in her throat, and she instinctively clutches her keys, sweaty fingertips grazing their jagged edges, wondering if they are sharp enough to slash through skin. Abandoning decorum, she sprints into her building, and as the door clicks behind her, she dry heaves in a pool of her own sweat, thinking, I should have Ubered.

If you’re a woman who has ever walked home alone after a night out, you’re probably familiar with this experience, marked by an omnipresent fear of being harassed, mugged, or sexually assaulted. One evening, when I was 16 and living in Tokyo, a strange man wordlessly followed me from the train station to my house; I hid in the bushes, shaking, until he left. A few years ago, in Brooklyn, I was walking to a Halloween party when a guy behind me suddenly shoved me to the asphalt and snapped my purse off my shoulders as I picked myself off my bloodied knees. “‘Be safe,’ people invariably tell me whenever I leave a place on foot around midnight,” wrote VICE’s Megan Koester, who was walking home when she was attacked by a man in Washington State. “At best, the words sound like a challenge; at worst, a threat. Regardless of their intent, they are meaningless. It is impossible for a woman to ever truly be safe.” For all women regardless of whether they’ve been assaulted, paranoia isn’t irrationalit’s a safety mechanism.

Walking back after a party isn’t always this scary, of course. Sometimes, it’s mind-numbingly uneventful. Other times, it’s the victory lap of a legendary night outlike the time me and my friends spilled out of Amnesia’s season closing party in Ibiza surrounded by thousands of sweaty Euros, whooping as we darted through traffic.

Photo via Thomas Hawk/Flickr

Back in May, my THUMP UK colleague Angus Harrison wrote about the joys of walking home from the club with friends, which he called one of summer’s most under-celebrated pursuits. As an unmistakable autumn chill creeps into the air, walking home might be the best way to relish the last golden days of summer. “Before you know it, it’ll all be gone,” Angus wrote. “The nights will go back to puddles and pissy urinals and over-priced cars. The smell of pollen and suncream will be replaced with damp and deodorant,”and you’ll be back to “shuddering at frosted bus stops.”

“The walk home is not for the faint of heart,” Angus warned. But for the brave few, he suggests, the rewards are plenty, including the chance to work off those uppers, experience a different side of the city where you live, and get to know your friends outside the deafening pummeling of a 4/4 kick drum.

Most importantly, Angus writes, the walk home is a time for whimsyit is “a safe space for meandering chatter, nude runs through car-parks and cross-legged silences on bowling lawns.”

Angus’ essay is beautiful and heartfeltI highly encourage you to read it, if you haven’t already. However, being able to walk home from the cluband enjoy itis not a privilege afforded to everyone. Late-night strolls may represent a safe space for meandering chatter and nude runs for some, but in my experience, it isn’t always a safe space if you’re a womanespecially if you’re a woman on her own.

One of our readers, a journalist covering women’s issues for the Daily Mail named Lauren Ingram, was the first to point out this reality on Twitter:

“A man may not realize it, but if he’s following me for more than a block down the street at night, I realize that,” Lauren said when I reached out to her last week over email asking if she could elaborate on her tweet. “I am watching him, I am aware, I am scared. For him, he’s probably taking no notice. But his presence makes me feel less safe, and with good reason.”

Meanwhile, Lauren’s tweet sparked a heated debate on the dangers of that late-night walk home for men versus women online. One woman disagreed with Lauren, tweeting that it was time to “stop using rhetoric of safety to justify limiting women’s freedom of movement.” “White women are basically the most safe on the streetsand it’s not actually any more dangerous for women to be out alone than it is for men,” she added, linking to an Everyday Sociology blog post that analyzes the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ National Crime Victimization Survey.

A male user pointed out that actually, he was more likely to be attacked on the streets because “78% of violent crime victims are men,” referring to the same Bureau of Justice Statistics survey. He was quickly rebuffed by another man, who noted that while gang violence is overwhelmingly male, if you take murder out of the equation, women are much more likely to be raped and assaulted in their lifetime. (In the United States, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence says 1 in 5 women have been raped, versus 1 in 71 men.)

One user even remarked that we might all be equally screwed: according to Freakonomics co-author and University of Chicago economist Steven Levitt, drunk walking is apparently even more dangerous than drunk driving.

With all these wildly differentand seemingly validperspectives flying around, I decided to rely on every journalist’s favorite fallback in times of great uncertainty: the data. I discovered that how safe you are walking home from the club is a complex issuedependent not only if you’re a man or a woman, but on your economic class, race, age, and geographic location.


A 2011 Gallup poll comparing how safe men and women feel walking home alone, in various countries

Yes, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ National Crime Victimization Survey, it is true that males are more likely to be victims of violence on the streets than femalesbut only if we’re talking about assault, robbery and homicide, with the exception of rape and sexual assault, which is a pretty damn big exception. Those aged 24 and below are victimized more often than older people, and African-Americans are more likely to be attacked on the streets than Caucasians.

Perhaps most interestingly, according to a Gallup poll, women in first-world countries are likely to feel less safe than men walking home alone at night, while the gender gap in second and third-world countries is more on-par. (In the United States, 62 percent of women feel safe, versus 89 percent of men; in China, it’s 77 percent women versus 82 percent men.) The theory is that as countries develop economically and socially, there is a higher expectation for physical security in the general public, though women are less likely to feel like those expectations are being met.

That last bit of datathat women feel less safe than men walking homeis, to me, the one that hits home hardest. Safety is a feeling, not a statistic. When I’m walking home, I don’t give a shit about whether surveys say I’m more or less likely to be assaulted than my male friends. Like Angus, I want to savor that last rush of the night by running nude through car parksnot having a panic attack every time I hear footsteps shuffling too close behind me. The power of the dancefloor is its promise of total freedom. I want that feeling to extend beyond the club’s doors.

Michelle Lhooq is THUMP’s Features Editor. Follow her on Twitter.

How A New Festival For Female, Non-Binary, And Trans Artists Plans To Crush The Patriarchy (Eventually)

Photos by Valerie Calano

It was mid-afternoon on Saturday, July 9 and the music at TUFFESTa new, two-day festival in Seattle’s Judkins Park dedicated exclusively to female-identified, non-binary, and trans artistshad just begun. The sun peeked out, then skittered behind clouds, with a make-up-your-mind ambivalence typical to Seattle summers. The few people dancing to the textural, warped vinyl sounds of festival opener EOSIN were enough to fit under a small tent, and scattered groups of friends in the park laid around on blankets as a faint waft of weed drifted in the air.

In an age where lineups are still overwhelmingly dominated by white, cis men, TUFFEST’s emphasis on uplifting, expanding and celebrating the female, non-binary, and trans electronic music community is much-needed. Its political undertones have also helped the inaugural festival stand out in the laid-back, indie label-driven scene that defines the Pacific Northwest (think K Records and Sub Pop).

During the day, the free and open-to-the-public portion of the festival included interactive visual art installations, musical performances, and workshops with women in creative industries. At night, the “TUFFEST ’till Dawn” afterparty took over an arts space in Seattle’s industrial district for the night, feeding techno-hungry locals with the likes of 1080p-affiliated UMFANG and Cologne-based DJ Lena Willikens. A coding performance by custom synth builder Kaori Suzuki, downtempo ambient artist Patricia Hall of the Soft Metals, experimental hip-hop MC DoNormaal, and epic sound collagist Elysia Crampton were among the other highlights.

The festival is an ambitious first for TUF, an electronic music and digital art collective in Seattle for intersectional and female-identified artists. TUF started online in 2015 as a private Facebook groupa place where women living in Seattle and the surrounding areas could share tracks and gear tips, talk about upcoming shows around town, and generally interact in a space free from the relentless whine of mansplainers.

After their first IRL meeting in the jam-packed Capitol Hill living room of TUF founder Katherine Humphreys, the group grew to include more than 80 members who bonded over a shared need to carve out their own musical turf in a male-dominated industry.

“I think it just didn’t exist before,” says Humphreys says of the community that TUF has built. “It’s really disheartening to go to electronic shows and see all of these men hanging out with each other and feel like none of the women in the room know each other.”

The TUF crew says this year’s TUFFEST is just the beginningthey hope to put on the event every year, giving even more women, non-binary, queer and trans people a place at the (turn)table. Here are five reasons why the festival will crush the music industry patriarchyeventually:

1. It’s already shaking up Seattle’s festival scene.

TUFFEST’s goal of inciting social change through highlighting female electronic stars sets it apart from other festivals in the Northwest. (Just look at the guitar-driven and male-dominated lineups of Bumbershoot, Sasquatch, and Timber for example). Plus, with one of Seattle’s best-known electronic festivals, Decibel, recently announcing its hiatus, there is a real chance for TUFFEST to fill the void while pushing its progressive social mission.

2. It asked cis white men to get in the back of the line.

TUFFEST organizer Cecilia Corsano-Leopizzi cut her teeth booking for Decibel, and said the experience helped her appreciate how educational workshops can be a platform to expose people to new technology. “I just want to take that one step further and make it more accessible,” she told THUMP.

To that end, TUFFEST gave female-identified, non-binary and LGBTQAI people first access to sign-up forms for workshops on subjects like sound production and modular synthesis. At least one workshop, x=Synth with Kaori Suzuki, did not accept new applicants who were cis white men once it started to become full.

“What I found is that whenever there’s a mixed gender class, women tend to step back, listen, and wait, and men tend to step forward, and jump right in,” explained Natalie Bayne from Seattle Sound Girls, a nonprofit that teaches audio production skills to young women and girls in afterschool programs and summer camps. Bayne said she taught a workshop on how to set up sound-systems and PAs to counter the lack of opportunities for women to “tinker around with intimidating-looking gear.”

Though you’d never know it from her fierce and vigorous techno set at the TUFFEST afterparty, Discwoman co-founder and DJ/producer UMFANG (AKA Emma Burgess-Olson) said she spent far too much time in the beginning of her career being timid. Olson taught an intro to drum machines workshop where she encouraged a curious group of young women to try their hands at recording sequences using a Boss Dr. Groove drum machine and a Roland TR-8.

“It’s important to remember that we all have the same starting point,” Olson told THUMP. “I had to ask the same questions that some famous man once had to ask, too. No one knows how a drum machine works when they’re a baby. They learn.”

3. It also made men think.

Many men at TUFFEST were supportive of the festival, and found the female-driven sets both impressive and refreshing.”Techno is such a male-dominated industry,” said one festival goer named Tim, “yet so much of it originally was a lot of women who were involved. It became this major dude-nerd thing, so it’s nice to see people recognizing that this shouldn’t have to be just a male-focused activity.”

Another male festival-goer who came to the afternoon shows commendably checked his privilege, saying he held back on going to the workshops, even though he was curious about them, so that others could have a chance. “I didn’t want to be that straight guy, you know, going in there and guying up the place with my guy vibes,” he said.

4. It made racial diversity a priority in one of America’s whitest cities.

Seattle is one of the whitest cities in the country, according to data released in 2015 by the Census Bureau. And white people in Seattle often don’t have a very easy time talking about it.

“There’s sort of this weird intellectual superiority that happens in the Pacific Northwest, where people feel like since the coffee’s hella good, they couldn’t possibly be racist or something,” said Hollis Wong Wear, musician in The Flavr Blue and frequent Macklemore collaborator. TUFFEST took on the issue head-on, hosting Wear on a panel about dismantling institutional racism in the arts, and booking local performers-of-color like MC Sassyblack and Jenn Green, DoNormaal, and Jessica Duran of Succubass.

Renee Jarreau Greene, a panelist and DJ who started a queer and trans people of color dance party in Seattle called Darqness, said it’s important to remember that “nightlife spaces have always been inherently political and radical… especially since we are all affected by white supremacy, and living in such a very white city.”

“Marginalized people in this city have found that they have to build their own spaces here,” Greene noted.

5. It gave politically engaged artists like Elysia Crampton headlining spots for the first time.

Formerly producing as an epic collagist under the name E&E, Virginia-based Elysia Crampton started gaining traction from her high-concept first album American Drift, released last year. But TUFFEST was the first time the self-proclaimed “transevangelist” headlined a festival in the US.

It was past 9pm when she started weaving a fragmented tapestry of feral beats, live vocals and keys, and pop cultural references, all nightmarishly contorted and sonically rich. Coiled into her set were shards of words that were deeply political and personal: a quote from a Bolivian trans activist, a futuristic folktale about a trans justice movement from Latin America, and a poem about finding love amidst modern colonialism.

“The political context of my music just happened that way because it couldn’t be otherwise,” Crampton told THUMP over email. “Having to deal with the terms of livingstuff that I never had the language for, but which materially affected memade me subject/target to family/civic/state violence, and separated me from my own history and from the kinship network I desperately needed in order to survive.”

By giving Crampton a headlining spot, making education accessible to often-marginalized communities, and putting other female identified, trans and queer artists on center stage, TUFFEST mixed politics and music in a way that will open doors for others to follow.

Why 2016 Is The Year Of Queer Women In Nightlife

This weekend, THUMP honors Pride with a celebration of all aspects of LBGTQ nightlife in NYC and beyond. Follow our Pride Weekend coverage here. Today, DJ, producer and promoter Whitney Daya fixture in the lesbian party scenesheds light on how queer women are reaching new levels of visibility and power in 2016.

Pride is right around the corner, which means it’s been about a year since my last op-ed on THUMP, “Who Says the Lesbian Party Scene Is Dead?,” debunked whispers of the decline of queer female nightlife and DJ culture. As event invites for Pride parties pile up in my Facebook inbox, it seems like a good time to return to the topic: what is the current status of queer women in music and nightlife?

The developments I see in this small, interconnected world of LGBTQ women around the country are predominantly positive. Although the parties may not have necessarily increased in number, the caliber of what’s being deliveredfrom the lineups, to the venues, to the marketingis noticeably higher. Queer women like Honey Dijon, The Black Madonna, Lauren Flax, and JD Samson are being invited to perform and DJ at places like Red Rocks in Denver, Movement festival in Detroit, Yo Sissy! In Berlin, and Mysteryland in New York, among other major festivals and clubs. These champions are holding it down in the face of the skeptics, fighting tirelessly to be represented in this space.

With the closure of a handful of landmark lesbian bars in recent years including The Lexington in San Francisco and Candybar in Londonthere was a clear shift towards special events and pop-up parties. As far as I know, there haven’t been any new brick-and-mortar lesbian hangouts opening in the US, but some of the bars that have survived near-extinction are stepping up their game, and in a big way.

Pride at Marquee nightclub in New York

Take, for example, the very thought-out revival of Henrietta Hudson, AKA “Hens,”one of the last lesbian watering holes left in Manhattanwhich has dramatically upgraded the quality of its lineups and marketing in the past year or so. In addition to updating its logo and flyers with fresher designs, the bar has also started offering more variety in its programming, with a new soul music night called HoMotown, a night for serious music heads called Sessions on Fridays, and queer icons like Daniela Sea from The L Word and JD throwing down sets on a regular basis. Hens also runs Sirena big, open-air Pride event in New York on June 25, which I’ll be DJing along with Sea, and a live performance by Nina Sky, the seasoned twins behind the modern-day classic “Move Ya Body.”

Lesbian and LGBTQ parties are also starting to find new homes in top-tier venues like the Burner-friendly House of Yes in Brooklyn, where my event, “WE ARE Brooklyn Pride” went down on June 11. In addition, Pride Sunday, for LGBTQ women and their friends, has become synonymous with the superclub Marquee, a venue with one of the most tricked-out A/V systems in the city. For the fourth year in a row, 1,500 women and their allies will gather here after the annual Pride parade on Sunday, June 26 for a massive celebration that goes well into the nightwith Baltimore Club queen TT The Artist, whose 2015 banger “Fly Girl” empowered women around the world, as the headlining act.

Special events thrown by and for LGBTQ women are even going beyond the club. During NYFW this past September, leading queer fashion website dapperQwhich has been increasing visibility for the queer fashion scene for over half a decade with its feature articles, reviews, and event listingsproduced one of their highly buzzed-about runway shows at the Brooklyn Museum. Over a thousand people came out to watch queer models like Ryley Pogensky, Ari Fitz, and Rain Dove show off designs made by NotEqual, KQK by Karen Quirion, LACTIC, Fony, MARKANTOINE, and other LGBTQ designers. Gorgeous, interesting, and style-conscious queer women are everywhere now, and to see so many together in one room is powerful.

This “revival” of the lesbian party scene isn’t unique to New York. About a year and a half ago I began segueing to a bi-coastal life, which gave me the ability to observe what’s going on in the LA lesbian scene. The notion that queer women and lesbians are doing big things at this very moment is palpable. Milk Milk Lemonadeone of a handful of crews run by queer, bi, and non-binary womenis regularly throwing pop-up parties while building community, raising money, and keeping things fresh by offering something out of the box, like their “paint party rave” back in May.

Recently I DJ’d a different party with Milk Milk Lemonade called The May Mingle on a Sunday afternoon at a gorgeous mansion. It was the most L-Word scene I’ve ever experienced, but in the best possible way: beautiful women, live girl-bands, five queer female DJs, body painting, and medical cannabis being passed around. One woman even stripped naked and went swimming in the pool and no one batted an eyelashit was just feel-good, easy-living California vibes.

Whitney Day (right)

This year, I’ve traveled more for gigs than I’ve ever done before, and I see so many of my peers and the female DJs I admire rapidly moving upwards: Honey Dijon was recently on tour with Disclosure; the Black Madonna’s schedule is said to be booked solid through the rest of the year; Lauren Flax’s name is popping up more and more in the cross-pollinating electronic music scenes; and Susan Morabito is enjoying a second-wave revival, with whole the Fire Island and gay circuit scene seemingly wrapped around her finger.

These DJs are success stories, as are the women running the parties, websites, and clothing labels that are pushing queer feminist culture to the forefront. Five years ago, nightlife culture for LGBTQ women was more segregated and geared towards “lipstick lesbians.” Now, it’s much more mixed and inclusive of queer women across the spectrumdemonstrating how our scene is continuing to grow and become more visible. The hustle and talent of this community is finally being respected and rewarded, and that’s one of the many things we need celebrate this Pride.

Whitney Day is bi-coastal DJ, producer, and events promoter. Follow her on Twitter and catch her this weekend at these Pride parties:

Fri 6/24 @ Cielo: DJs Amanda Louise, Colby B., WhitneyDay + Live Drummings by G-Money & Cielo Dancers. (More info)

Sun 6/26 @ Marquee: TT The Artist, M.O., June, Kamikace, WhitneyDay + Batala NYC, Emcee Specs, Marquee Dancers & Surprise Performers (More info)

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Photos Of The Beautiful Freaks At America's Biggest Gabber Festival

Photos by Justin Cole Smith

Last month, I saw an event pop up in my Facebook feed called “Gabberfest 2016: America’s Hardest.” Slated for June 18-19, the three-year-old festival promised to help “fans of the sounds too extreme for any mainstream festival find their sanctuary during two days of pure chaos,” and a “hellish inferno under the Las Vegas sun.”

A couple of my Facebook friends had said they were attending, but I knew they weren’t actually going tothe flyer was pretty goofy and the event was way out in Vegas. Still, I became super curious about what a gabber festival in America would look like in 2016. Gabbera Netherlands-born subgenre of hardcore music marked by heavily distorted kickdrums, whiplash-inducing BPMs, and no-fucks-given aggressionwas mostly popular in Europe 10 or 20 years ago, corrupting an entire generation of Dutch children.

I imagined a few different scenarios, the most likely that the actual festival would be sparsely attended, mostly by weird, angry, bald white dudes. What I found in reality was a hyper-dedicated and tight-knit scene gabber heads leftover from the larger hardcore explosion in America decades ago that either got swallowed or abandoned by more accessible electronic music genres over time.

Watch our documentary on the Rotterdam Terror Corps, Holland’s Most Badass Hardcore Collective

These lovable freaks gathered in a dive bar called Hard Hat Lounge north of the strip. Many of them were also DJing at the festival, which was thrown by Las Vegas resident Brandon Ramirez AKA the “White Ape,” with the help of a San Bernadino-based production company Techno Belligerent. Their dedication to ball-bustingly hard electronic music is so unwavering that they were even willing to put up with the 108 degree weather to rage in the parking lot.

Even though Gabberfest was organized as a pre-party to the massive EDM festival Electric Daisy Carnival, where crossover hardcore act Lenny Dee and quite a few hardstyle DJs were playing, I didn’t talk to a single person at Gabberfest who was attending EDC as well.

Chatting with some of the folks present, I felt instantly welcomed into their community, and got the sense that everyone was very optimistic about the future of their micro-scene. Even the Satanists were super nice!

Deadly Buda

THUMP: How did you get into gabber?

I guess I got into it right when it started, more or less… I threw my first rave in 1991.

How do you feel listening to gabber? Whats the perfect setting for it?

That big distorted kick drum really stimulates the fight-or-flight response so it makes dancing like a thrill ridethat’s what I like about the gabber sound. You want a big system you can jam out to.

How do you feel about the American gabber scenedo feel like it’s a unified culture?

There are all these awesome producers in America who are basically getting no attention whatsoever. One of the great things about Gabberfest is we’re getting everyone to meet up and start cooperating to make the scene bigger and better. You are seeing the unification of the scene right here.

Do drugs make the gabber experience better or worse?

Technically I think it makes it worseit makes it harder to dance. I think drugs hold back any music scene, but smaller music scenes have more people dedicated to the music.

What do you think it would take for gabber to become more popular? Would you want it to be?

I think you’re seeing it happen right now.

Steven AKA Metal Jesus

How did you get into gabber? What makes it special?

I was asking friends for the hardest, fastest music and Berzerker was a a band I was given. I started seeing tags like speedcore and terrorcore, so I just started to look that shit up and that’s how I got in the scene. My first party was Angerfist’s first party in the United States at Murder the Dancefloor in 2007. Now I’m at the point where I can go to a party alone and know three or four people there.

So you feel like there’s a unified scene?

Fuck yeah.

How do you feel listening to gabber?

Oh man, I could play gabber to wake me up, and play gabber to put me to sleep.

Do drugs make the gabber experience better or worse?

I dance so hard and so long that if I do do drugs, it’s gonna fuck me over big time. So just water and caffeine and make sure I get some good protein and fruit through out the day. People can do whatever the fuck they want, but from what I have seen, not very many people do hard drugs.

Tell me about how you dress to a gabber rave?

Oh I have no clueI’ll wear whatever I’m comfortable in.

Brent AKA Counterterrorist

How did you get into gabber?

I got to see Delta9 at a New Year’s party about five years ago when I first got into gabber. I found more of it online and just really went with it.

How do you feel about the American gabber scene? Do feel like it’s a unified culture?

It used to be really big and I feel like it can be again if we coordinate.

Do drugs make the gabber experience better or worse?

Thats an interesting question. I have to say it’s based on the person. It can go really well or really bad. Alcohol is a big thing with gabber. Where I’m from, mostly people would do a lot of acid and listen to breakcore and stuff. Drugs can enhance .

Tell me about your clothing or style.

HK: I’ve just always done whatever the fuck I want. I don’t like to do the whole super feminine style. Just whatever is comfortable.

Brandon AKA The White Ape

How did you get into gabber?

A lot of us we just stumbled onto the mixtapes, but back then, what really hooked me was the energy and the power of hardcore music at its peak. That was 20 years ago.

How come there aren’t more women in the scene?

We have a few strong women DJs, but we could always use more women.

Do drugs make the gabber experience better or worse?

Drugs are everywhere. It’s an unavoidable evil, but in the hardcore scene I don’t think it’s as much as an overt problem as in other scenes.

Helbert AKA En3gy

How did you get into gabber?

I used to have a friend who would bring back tapes from the UK and Holland in the mid-90s and tell me, “you gotta listen to this stuff.”

How do you feel about the American gabber scene? Do feel like it’s a unified culture?

It’s had its ups and downs. Once we stick together, things will start to get there again.

Do drugs make the gabber experience better or worse?

It makes no difference. I’m sober half the timeunless I’m drunk.

Tell me about your style.

I grew up in the hood, so for me, it’s just urban. I’m relaxed.

Gary and Donna

How did you get into gabber?

Gary: Being in the hard dance scene and hardstyle just eventually led to this.

Donna: Artists out of LA just started to bring it out more to Texas.

Do drugs make the gabber experience better or worse?

Gary: Drugs maybe just make it a little more fun. I could be sober or on anything.

Do you feel like women are properly represented in the gabber scene?

Donna: There needs to be more active women in the gabber scene. Women are scared to be more hardcore than the boys.

Tell me about what you’re wearing.

Gary: I’m gonna dress however the fuck I want. To be honest, we’re Satanists, and I just love anything dark and evil.

More photos from Gabberfest:

Adam Schwarz is a DJ based in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter.

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