5 Easy Ways to Make Your Parties More Friendly to Your Non-Binary Friends

This month, THUMP honors Pride with a celebration of LGBTQ nightlife all across America. Follow our coverage here.

Dance music began as a refuge for marginalized people. That legacy bears repeating, because everywhere you look within contemporary electronic music nightlife—be it on festival bills or at underground basement shows—you’ll find near-constant reminders that those with the most power in dance music are straight white men. The good news is that there are always going to be people who remember the culture’s roots and are fighting for the place of women, LGBTQ people, and people of color within the scene.

There are event series like Daphne at Chicago’s Smart Bar that specifically center themselves around booking women and non-binary people. TUFFEST launched last year in Seattle, centering women and non-binary people in electronic music. There’s also recurring parties New York’s Papi Juice, whose stated goal is “celebrating queer and trans people of color and the folk who love them.” And those are just a few among the many events all across the country that are specifically centering queer people in their booking practices.

By and large, events like these are run by people who are seeking to create spaces that are safe for the marginalized groups they’re hoping to uplift—and most of the time, they do it right. But as these inclusive nightlife spaces have become more popular—and frankly, more in vogue for the press to cover—it’s also presented new challenges. As the language of events thrown for and by the queer community becomes more widespread, it’s easy for promoters to say the right things without putting in the work to provide an environment that’s safe and comfortable for the communities they’re ostensibly serving.

That lack of attention to detail is an issue that I’ve especially seen affect non-binary people over the past several years. As non-binary and otherwise gender non-conforming people become more visible in the US—Oregon has just become the first state to allow its residents to identify as a gender other than male or female on a government-issued ID—it’s become more and more popular for parties to include language that suggests that they’re welcoming to people of those gender identities.

But it’s my experience that they sometimes fall short of those stated goals. It’s not too uncommon to see an event for queer people taking place a venue that doesn’t have gender-neutral bathrooms, for example. So in light of all this, it seems prudent to review some basic tips for making parties welcoming to non-binary people.

1. Actually book non-binary people.

The yearly number-crunch of festival bill data every year only tells part of the story of the dance music ecosystem. But Pitchfork’s breakdown this year shows that even after years of work, there’s still a huge gender imbalance on the world’s biggest stages. Straight white men still receive the most prominent placements, and still get paid the most for those slots. Those gigs are harder to come by for non-binary people—but that’s easily fixed with some careful thought from promoters.

This bit is pretty self-evident, but if you’re putting together a party that’s explicitly geared to serve women, non-binary people, and the queer community, you should actually book people representative of those groups. As we’re constantly reminded, structural advantages—like access to expensive equipment and the white men frequently in charge of booking nightlife events—benefit from patriarchal hegemony even in the underground. So whatever you can do to dismantle those power structures through redistribution of wealth and social capital can go a long way. If you don’t know any non-binary artists off the top of your head, do some digging. Go to other queer club nights in your city, read local press, ask your friends. Visibility has a ricochet effect—who knows how many non-binary kids you could inspire to take up the decks if they see themselves reflected onstage?

While booking a line-up, it’s also important to consider how other power structures intersect with gender identity; as much as non-binary people are overlooked in society, it’s that much harder for non-binary people of color or disabled non-binary people. Book those people too. Obviously.

2. Provide gender-neutral bathrooms.

All those vodka sodas have to go somewhere, but bathrooms can present especially tricky situations for gender non-conforming people, who can be sometimes read as using the bathroom that doesn’t correspond to their assigned gender, no matter which one they use.

Especially as laws restricting gendered bathroom use continue to pop up across the country, it’s your duty as a promoter to provide an environment where concertgoers feel safe using the restroom. Fortunately, as Rose Dommu, a THUMP contributor and New York nightlife fixture, explained on this week’s THUMP Podcast, it’s easy enough to cover gendered bathroom signs with notes that say “urinals” or “stalls.” If a venue won’t let you do this for whatever reason, take your party elsewhere. There’s really no excuse!

3. Do as much as possible to staff your venue with queer and non-binary people.

As stated above, it’s always good to put traditionally marginalized people in roles of power in your organization. Some of this will happen naturally if you’re embedded within the community you’re hoping to serve, but always make efforts to staff your events with people who are representative of those communities. Not only will clubgoers be more comfortable seeing door people, bartenders, and hosts who reflect their experiences, but you’ll also have people on your team who can recognize problems—like potentially predatory or intolerant guests or staff unnecessarily gendering attendees—before they snowball. So many issues of discrimination, conscious or otherwise, can be avoided just by putting people from the community in places of power.

4. Train your staff to avoid gendering people.

If you haven’t been able to staff your entire venue with cool queer kids—and even if you have—it’s important to provide resources for your staff so that they know how to avoid assumptively gendering the people who show up. The most obvious way to do this is to teach them to be careful of their language when greeting people. Some people won’t care about being called “Dude,” “Man,” or “Sweetheart,” but for others, being gendered in those ways can throw them off for the rest of their night. Sometimes it’s cool to just say, like, “Hi.” People like that!

Also, be mindful about pat-downs, if that’s something your venue insists upon. The nightlife industry has a weird tendency to act like the TSA and sort people into lines of “male” and “female” so that they’re not accused of impropriety. But doing so, as Dommu pointed out on our podcast, genders attendees in a way that’s uncomfortable at best and outright discriminatory at worst.

On a related note, be sure to train your staff ask for pronouns if the opportunity for more prolonged interaction arises. It can take some brain rewiring for people unfamiliar with this sort of practice—but it’s a good thing to do in everyday life, and especially important for a show geared toward people spanning many different gender identities.

5. Check in on people, and listen.

Walk around and talk to people. This is applicable to any event you might throw, but especially to any event specifically geared toward non-binary people. Make it clear to people that they have someone to come to if they feel uncomfortable or unsafe—be it due to harassment or other issues that can arise in dark loud rooms. Listen to them if they express feelings of discomfort, and take actions to remedy it. You can’t stop assholes 100% of the time, but you can watch a room, get a sense of who’s making people uncomfortable and curtail the problem before it gets out of hand. If worst comes to comes to worst, you can even kick people who are ruining the vibe out of your space. Just be present.

Illustration by Lia Kantrowitz

Looking for the Next Great Club Track? Just Ask Oscar Nñ of Papi Juice

Whether it’s for playing out at a club or listening at home, DJs and producers typically have an encyclopedic hoard of music, new and old. In The Last Record, they tell us about the last three songs or albums they’ve purchased, and why these were important additions to their music collection.

This week, we spoke to Oscar Nñ, a resident DJ of Papi Juice, a rotating party celebrating queer and trans people of color. You can next catch Oscar at the Red Bull Music Academy Festival on May 7th as part of “A Bed-Stuy Function” with artists such as Juliana Huxtable, Tygapaw, and Bearcat of Discwoman, among others. “I’m very very very excited about playing this party,” Oscar said. “It’s a huge honor to be playing Red Bull Music Festival.”

Papi Juice celebrates their four-year anniversary party on Saturday, June 24. “It’s really crazy and really exciting,” said Oscar. “We have big, big plans for that one.”


Indy Flow – “Rebotando”

This track is super important to me because there’s been a resurgence of female reggaeton artists. In this song, she’s talking about how her butt bounces when she’s riding someone. This is so amazing. For me, it’s just all about female empowerment and she just gives no fucks. I really like this song for that reason. And the rhymes in general and her flow is really good. I’m really excited to see what she gets up to [in her career].

There’s a big controversy in Puerto Rico actually because people were asking how there was a woman singing all of this stuff. But then, in the reverse, you have male reggaeton artists that are so nasty and are allowed to get away with so much shit. But just because it’s a woman, she can’t talk about how much she’s enjoying riding that dick.

quest?onmarc – “WORK THIS”

Quest?onmarc is a New York-based artist and part of the collective Qween Beat. Quest?onmarc is actually one of the most talented all around artists I know. They’re an amazing DJ, an amazing producer and an amazing performer. Quest?onmarc played Papi Juice like a year or so ago and that’s when we met. It also doesn’t hurt that they’re the sweetest, kindest soul.

Quest?onmarc DJed and wore this outfit of a neon blonde wig and these platform shoes. They’re already a pretty tall person, but then they were taller. They were standing over the CDJs, looking so amazing, and playing all of this great music while vogueing to it at the same time. I was just like, “Ugh. Amazing.” You wanna dance to their music and just be in the moment, but you also want to watch them perform because they’re so good. It was a full performance. It wasn’t just a DJ set.

This song is off their new EP. You can really hear Quest?onmarc’s talent and how careful they are with music. Most of my DJ sets will have an edit from Quest?onmarc. That’s how amazing I think they are.

I feel like Quest?onmarc’s music is just essential to any club environment. It’s all very bass heavy. But they’ve also done a bunch of edits in Baltimore club and regular house genres. Whatever I’m playing, whatever style I’m on, I know there will be a question mark edit to fit that mood.

Swisha – “Losing UR Mind (SWISHA’s B-More Edit)

I watched the first season of The Get Down. It’s not the perfect show, but to watch such a positive story about young people of color and how they started something so big was really inspiring to me. It’s funny. It is on Netflix, but I feel like it’s a pretty important show, not only for the birth of hip hop. It just talks about the history of the Bronx and how it is such a cultural birthplace of so many movements. I feel like a lot of times, when you think of New York, you think of Manhattan. You think of Brooklyn. You never talk about the Bronx. But the Bronx’s history is so important to what makes New York, New York.

I’m from the area, so anything B-more is amazing. I was going through a really rough time this week and I saw this song and just rode the subway, listening to this song on loop. This song has quintessential New York vibes. There’s just so much going on in your life and you’re always riding the subway and you don’t know what’s going to happen next or what your next move is going to be. It’s all very fast-paced and I feel like it matches the beat of the song and the story that it tells. I feel like people will really really enjoy it in a club setting.

WRACK – “Kamui (Wasted Fates Remix)”

WRACK is a prolific producer based out of Tokyo and Wasted Fates is a papi from the N.A.A.F.I. crew in Mexico City. When I heard this track, I was like, “Oh my God. This song is so good.”

I’m just so down for the cultural exchanges happening in this song. It’s really evident. You can tell that there’s an inspiration from Latin America, but there are other sounds in there that really make you wonder. It’s really complex and beautiful.

Jasmine Infiniti x K.Hole_Kardashian – “CANCELL-T”

My friend Maya and I were out the other night and we were just talking. We were having this bad night and were like, “Ugh, tonight is cancelled.” And then Maya was like, “You have to heard this song.”

It starts with Jasmine listing phrases that have been cancelled. And so she starts to say: fierce, fabulous, slay, yes queen, Brooklyn, Oakland, the gender binary. This song is really great because it’s not only hilarious; it’s also really brilliant. All of these actually ARE cancelled. The gender binary is very much cancelled. Soccer moms vogueing is very much cancelled.


Britt Julious is on Twitter

It’s Time To Start Thinking About How Queer Nightlife Can Move Forward Under Trump

“I can’t, I can’t…” sobs a young black woman who has collapsed on a flight of stairs at the Boiler Room Weekender festival in Pennsylvania. She has just gotten caught by security for allegedly possessing a small amount of weed. In footage THUMP obtained of the incident, four men in black police uniforms loom over her in a tight circle.

Following the woman’s arrest earlier this month, escalating tensions between the local police and crowd forced Boiler Room to shut down the festival early. Many, including Boiler Room themselves, criticized the police from Lake Harmonya rural town in one of the swing states that swerved red during the presidential electionfor targeting people of color. Even headliner Dev Hynes said he had every page of his notebook searched as his white friends walked by without a second look.

Ever since the festival, I can’t get Jones’ cry out of my head, perhaps because it echoes the last words of Eric Garner: “I can’t breathe.” These words, shouted over and over by Black Lives Matter activists over the last few years, convey the despair of a society where racially targeted policing is not an aberration but a normand where a black person is shot every two days by the authorities.

“We want to breathe,” wrote feminist scholar Roxane Gay in a 2015 New York Times op-ed about safe spaces. Gay defines a safe space as “a haven from the harsh realities people face in their everyday lives” because of their race, sexual orientation, or other identities. In electronic music, events are usually called “safe spaces” when they promote a set of values best summarized by a banner that hangs at Brooklyn’s Afropunk festival every year: no sexism, no racism, no ableism, no ageism, no homophobia, no fatphobia, no transphobia, no hatefulness.

The Boiler Room Weekender fiasco was a jarring reminder of both the importance and fragility of safe spaces in nightlifeas were, on a much more horrific level, the shootings at Pulse in Orlando and the Bataclan in Paris. It was also, as my colleague Ezra Marcus noted, a wake-up call about the danger of uprooting these safe spaces from the social and geographical context in which they arose (in this case, the ultra liberal New York underground), and transplanting them into a conservative Trump town that does not necessarily share their values.

A festivalgoer at Afropunk (Photo via Aaron Paschal/AP2 Photography)

The festival took place more than three weeks ago, but since the election results rolled in, it feels like our collective hangover has only gotten more painful. In considering what role (if any) safe spaces will play in the electronic music community over the next four years, we are faced with a number of tough but critical questions: Do safe spaces in nightlife even exist? If so, how do we keep our safe spaces “safe”?

Electronic music history suggests that safe spaces have never been free from conflict; in fact, they have always been permeable to hostile intruders. Perhaps safe spaces are neither a myth nor an impenetrable sanctuary, but as Boiler Room put it, a “moving target.” How the rave community has responded during previous times of crisis is what really mattersand previous experience suggests that there are a number of approaches we could take to move forward.

Do safe spaces in nightlife even exist? If so, how do we keep our safe spaces “safe”?

The first is to fight backjust like in the 50s and 60s, when police began raiding gay-friendly bars in New York’s Greenwich Village. According to the research of scholar and activist Moira Kenney, the idea of “safe spaces” actually originated at gay bars on and around Christopher street, because anti-sodomy laws and harassment at the time made it dangerous to be “out” publicly. Tensions between authorities and the LGBTQ+ community had been brewing since at least Prohibition, but when one confrontation between cops and an unnamed lesbian exploded into widescale riots on Christopher Street in 1969, it kickstarted the modern gay rights movement in America.

A Timeline of Christopher Street, New York LGBTQ Nightlife’s Most Storied Thoroughfare

Fighting oppression has a way of bringing people together. Go to an anti-Trump protest today, and you’re likely to see activists from Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter marching next to Muslim-American parents, Bernie-supporting environmentalists, and feminists of every color. In the dance music world, many parties in the weeks after the election (including a White Material showcase I attended in Brooklyn) donated proceeds to organizations like the ACLU and Planned Parenthood, bolstering them with funds and new supporters. Beyond offering collective catharsis, dancefloors can be potent breeding grounds for political mobilization.

The crowd at a recent Loft party in New York (Photo by August Goulet)

Another option is to withdraw. One foundational tenet of rave culture is that the spaces we party in are “temporary autonomous zones,” where marginalized misfits can escape from oppression. This utopianism came from dance music’s roots in black, Latino, and queer communities in cities like Chicago and Detroit, and is threaded throughout our history. The late David Mancuso fostered a culture of secrecy around his legendary Loft parties by refusing press, sending out personalized invitations, and requiring memberships for entryall to keep his party’s LGBTQ+ crowd, and its culture of tolerance, safe. For the same reason, historically gay spaces like the Paradise Garage and Berghain have always been strict about who gets in. Treating safe spaces as hermetically sealed sanctums is both a form of self-protection and a means of liberation, fostering a sense of anarchic freedom, and a world apart from the unequal one outside the rave’s confines.

However, I would argue that there is a danger in thinking of safe spaces as divorced from reality. What happened at Boiler Room a few weeks back is a pretty harrowing example of that. But it can also endanger situations where people wrongly conflate safety with a lack of discourseas Trump himself did earlier this month. At a recent Hamilton show that Mike Pence attended, an African-American actor from the musical’s notably diverse cast addressed him from the stage, imploring him to “work on behalf of all of us.” Trump responded on Twitter calling the cast “very rude” and demanding an apology for Pence. He tweeted: “The Theater must always be a safe and special place. fuck up by not knowing how racist the environment would be? Yes. But white people don’t think about how black people live on a day to day basis,” he said. Still, he praised the Boiler Room team for putting on such a diverse festival with so many black headlinersnoting that no other organization has attempted something like that before. What he said next could be a rallying cry for all of us: “You can’t move on with anything unless you take a risk.”

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

How Will "Safe Spaces" In Nightlife Survive The Trumpocalypse?

“I can’t, I can’t…” sobs a young black woman who has collapsed on a flight of stairs at the Boiler Room Weekender festival in Pennsylvania. She has just gotten caught by security for allegedly possessing a small amount of weed. In footage THUMP obtained of the incident, four men in black police uniforms loom over her in a tight circle.

Following the woman’s arrest earlier this month, escalating tensions between the local police and crowd forced Boiler Room to shut down the festival early. Many, including Boiler Room themselves, criticized the police from Lake Harmonya rural town in one of the swing states that swerved red during the presidential electionfor targeting people of color. Even headliner Dev Hynes said he had every page of his notebook searched as his white friends walked by without a second look.

Ever since the festival, I can’t get Jones’ cry out of my head, perhaps because it echoes the last words of Eric Garner: “I can’t breathe.” These words, shouted over and over by Black Lives Matter activists over the last few years, convey the despair of a society where racially targeted policing is not an aberration but a normand where a black person is shot every two days by the authorities.

“We want to breathe,” wrote feminist scholar Roxane Gay in a 2015 New York Times op-ed about safe spaces. Gay defines a safe space as “a haven from the harsh realities people face in their everyday lives” because of their race, sexual orientation, or other identities. In electronic music, events are usually called “safe spaces” when they promote a set of values best summarized by a banner that hangs at Brooklyn’s Afropunk festival every year: no sexism, no racism, no ableism, no ageism, no homophobia, no fatphobia, no transphobia, no hatefulness.

The Boiler Room Weekender fiasco was a jarring reminder of both the importance and fragility of safe spaces in nightlifeas were, on a much more horrific level, the shootings at Pulse in Orlando and the Bataclan in Paris. It was also, as my colleague Ezra Marcus noted, a wake-up call about the danger of uprooting these safe spaces from the social and geographical context in which they arose (in this case, the ultra liberal New York underground), and transplanting them into a conservative Trump town that does not necessarily share their values.

A festivalgoer at Afropunk (Photo via Aaron Paschal/AP2 Photography)

The festival took place more than three weeks ago, but since the election results rolled in, it feels like our collective hangover has only gotten more painful. In considering what role (if any) safe spaces will play in the electronic music community over the next four years, we are faced with a number of tough but critical questions: Do safe spaces in nightlife even exist? If so, how do we keep our safe spaces “safe”?

Electronic music history suggests that safe spaces have never been free from conflict; in fact, they have always been permeable to hostile intruders. Perhaps safe spaces are neither a myth nor an impenetrable sanctuary, but as Boiler Room put it, a “moving target.” How the rave community has responded during previous times of crisis is what really mattersand previous experience suggests that there are a number of approaches we could take to move forward.

Do safe spaces in nightlife even exist? If so, how do we keep our safe spaces “safe”?

The first is to fight backjust like in the 50s and 60s, when police began raiding gay-friendly bars in New York’s Greenwich Village. According to the research of scholar and activist Moira Kenney, the idea of “safe spaces” actually originated at gay bars on and around Christopher street, because anti-sodomy laws and harassment at the time made it dangerous to be “out” publicly. Tensions between authorities and the LGBTQ+ community had been brewing since at least Prohibition, but when one confrontation between cops and an unnamed lesbian exploded into widescale riots on Christopher Street in 1969, it kickstarted the modern gay rights movement in America.

A Timeline of Christopher Street, New York LGBTQ Nightlife’s Most Storied Thoroughfare

Fighting oppression has a way of bringing people together. Go to an anti-Trump protest today, and you’re likely to see activists from Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter marching next to Muslim-American parents, Bernie-supporting environmentalists, and feminists of every color. In the dance music world, many parties in the weeks after the election (including a White Material showcase I attended in Brooklyn) donated proceeds to organizations like the ACLU and Planned Parenthood, bolstering them with funds and new supporters. Beyond offering collective catharsis, dancefloors can be potent breeding grounds for political mobilization.

The crowd at a recent Loft party in New York (Photo by August Goulet)

Another option is to withdraw. One foundational tenet of rave culture is that the spaces we party in are “temporary autonomous zones,” where marginalized misfits can escape from oppression. This utopianism came from dance music’s roots in black, Latino, and queer communities in cities like Chicago and Detroit, and is threaded throughout our history. The late David Mancuso fostered a culture of secrecy around his legendary Loft parties by refusing press, sending out personalized invitations, and requiring memberships for entryall to keep his party’s LGBTQ+ crowd, and its culture of tolerance, safe. For the same reason, historically gay spaces like the Paradise Garage and Berghain have always been strict about who gets in. Treating safe spaces as hermetically sealed sanctums is both a form of self-protection and a means of liberation, fostering a sense of anarchic freedom, and a world apart from the unequal one outside the rave’s confines.

However, I would argue that there is a danger in thinking of safe spaces as divorced from reality. What happened at Boiler Room a few weeks back is a pretty harrowing example of that. But it can also endanger situations where people wrongly conflate safety with a lack of discourseas Trump himself did earlier this month. At a recent Hamilton show that Mike Pence attended, an African-American actor from the musical’s notably diverse cast addressed him from the stage, imploring him to “work on behalf of all of us.” Trump responded on Twitter calling the cast “very rude” and demanding an apology for Pence. He tweeted: “The Theater must always be a safe and special place. fuck up by not knowing how racist the environment would be? Yes. But white people don’t think about how black people live on a day to day basis,” he said. Still, he praised the Boiler Room team for putting on such a diverse festival with so many black headlinersnoting that no other organization has attempted something like that before. What he said next could be a rallying cry for all of us: “You can’t move on with anything unless you take a risk.”

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

Brooklyn Party Crew Papi Juice Joins THUMP's Sunsets This Thursday

THUMP’s Sunsets series is back. Last week, Fool’s Gold’s Nick Hook and Nadus christened our inaugural set. For our second stint this week, we’re welcoming New York’s Papi Juicea collective and monthly party founded on providing a safe place for queer and trans people of color.

On Thursday July 21, we’ll kick off with a Facebook Live interview at 6:30PM with Papi Juice co-founders Oscar N, DJ Adam, photographer Cristobal, and illustrator Mohammed. (Send us your questions in the comments section!) From 7-8:30PM, we’ll live-stream performances from Papi Juice co-founders Oscar N and DJ Adam, as well as special guests DJ Bebe, D0UZE, and Micah Domingo. Tune in to Sunset on THUMP’s Facebook page or YouTube channel; all sets will be archived on our Mixcloud.

In Papi Juice’s signature, playful rhetoric, the crew told THUMP over email:

“SUP HOMIES! WE’RE MAD EXCITED TO GET ~BREEZY~ WIT YALL LIVE FROM VICE HQ’S ROOFTOP THIS THURSDAY! AS PART OF THUMP’S NEW SERIES ‘SUNSETS,’ WE’LL BE DOING CUTE LIL B2B SETS WITH OUR SPECIAL GUESTS FROM OUR UPCOMING DAY RAGE ‘PAPI BREEZE’: DJ BEBE, D0UZE, AND MICAH! CAN YOU EVEN HANDLE THE ROMANCE, THE VIEWS, THE COLOR STORIES, AND THE SOUNDS? IT’S GONNA BE HOTTER THAN UR FAVE TELENOVELA KISS AT SUNSET! LOVE & LIGHT XOXO, PAPIJUICE.”

Papi Juice will also be celebrating their three-year anniversary at Project Parlor in Brooklyn on Saturday, June 23 from 3-9PM, and it’s free! Stay tuned for weekly announcements of future Sunsets performers.

Queer Party Crew Papi Juice Joins THUMP's Sunsets This Thursday

THUMP’s Sunsets series is back for the first time. Last week, Fool’s Gold’s Nick Hook and Nadus christened our inaugural set. For our second stint this week, we’re welcoming New York’s Papi Juicea collective and monthly party founded on providing a safe place for queer and trans people of color.

On Thursday July 21, we’ll kick off with a Facebook Live interview at 6:30PM with Papi Juice co-founders Oscar N, DJ Adam, photographer Cristobal, and illustrator Mohammed. (Send us your questions in the comments section!) From 7-8:30PM, we’ll live-stream performances from Papi Juice co-founders Oscar N and DJ Adam, as well as special guests DJ Bebe, D0UZE, and Micah Domingo. Tune in to Sunset on THUMP’s Facebook page or YouTube channel; all sets will be archived on our Mixcloud.

In Papi Juice’s signature, playful rhetoric, the crew told THUMP over email:

“SUP HOMIES! WE’RE MAD EXCITED TO GET ~BREEZY~ WIT YALL LIVE FROM VICE HQ’S ROOFTOP THIS THURSDAY! AS PART OF THUMP’S NEW SERIES ‘SUNSETS,’ WE’LL BE DOING CUTE LIL B2B SETS WITH OUR SPECIAL GUESTS FROM OUR UPCOMING DAY RAGE ‘PAPI BREEZE’: DJ BEBE, D0UZE, AND MICAH! CAN YOU EVEN HANDLE THE ROMANCE, THE VIEWS, THE COLOR STORIES, AND THE SOUNDS? IT’S GONNA BE HOTTER THAN UR FAVE TELENOVELA KISS AT SUNSET! LOVE & LIGHT XOXO, PAPIJUICE.”

Papi Juice will also be celebrating their three-year anniversary at Project Parlor in Brooklyn on Saturday, June 23 from 3-9PM, and it’s free! Stay tuned for weekly announcements of future Sunsets performers.

Abdu Ali Revamps His Summer Empowerment Anthem 'Did Dat' With An Eclectic Remix EP

Photo by Keem Griffey

Baltimore club producer and Kahlon party curator, Abdu Ali, has followed up his acclaimed MONGO mixtape with the U DID DAT SUMMER CLUB PACK, which THUMP is thrilled to exclusively stream today. Featuring remixes from Qween Beat affiliate Quest?onmarc, KUNQ member Kilbourne (who blew us away with her recent Sourland EP), and Bmore stalwart DJ Juwan, the release is built around standout MONGO cut “Did Dat,” produced by Mighty Mark.

The styles on display range from minimal, viscerally kinetic vogue (Quest?onmarc) to metal-sampling shredder club (Kilbourne), and all-in-all highlights some of the most exciting young producers in US underground. For the premiere, we got to interview Ali via email, where we talked about how the original track functions as a celebration of Black Americans’ social and cultural legacy, the ways MONGO‘s success affected his relationship to Baltimore club, and how his Kahlon party generates physical and metaphysical liberation.

THUMP: Why did you want to do this remix EP? What made you want to work with these collaborators specifically?
Abdu Ali: I never thought of it being a remix EP but I guess it is! lol. When “DID DAT” came about on MONGO, I imagined it to be that summer turn up song of the tape. You know every album or body of music must have a track that’s purely for people to be lit to and “DID DAT” is that and in my opinion every dance single needs to be remixed. So I had it remixed by those who I admire coming up in today’s music scene. DJ Juwan is from Baltimore and is the quintessential Baltimore club DJ. His remixes take me back to the dance moments I had in the infamous Paradox club. Kilbourne is supreme bae and not only do I admire her strength to own her identity but also in her music. She gives you that punk hardcore club shit and I wanted her spin on the track. She calls her remix a “planet core” edit. Quest?onmarc is that new new bitch and his vogue club remixes are too nasty, so I had to get him to cut up on a track.

What was the creative process like for making the original version of “DID DAT”? How did the track come about?
Well me and Mighty Mark met up in the studio with the phrase “I DID DAT” already in my head. I sung it for him and he just started making the beat for it as I was spitting while the rest of the lyrics came out of me. I told him I wanted to sound like the throwback classic Baltimore Club music: minimal, hard hitting, and soulful. The knock in the track hits so consistently, as if it’s reaffirming the phrase “I DID DAT”. It’s one of my fav tracks on the project and for me it’s a self-congratulating empowerment song inspired by the contributions of Black Americans to society and culture, not just in past history but on a daily basis.

MONGO received a lot of critical praise from a range of publications, from politically far-left to more mainstream. What was that reception like for you, and how, if at all, has it affected your artistic practice going forward?
I gagged. I believed in the project but I never could expect so much love and praise for MONGO. I know it was good and I knew it would affect much more folk than past projects cause I made it with the intent to make it universal but geesh it sure did get a lot of love. But one of the most surprising things the reception provoked within me was the motivation to keep Baltimore Club music going and to take ownership of that, my culture, and make sure it doesn’t die with out its proper dues. It’s immediately lovable, it’s cathartic, it’s powerful, it’s very black, and this project made me realize that the next project needs more of it.

Who are some of your favorite artists working today? Are there any scenes or collectives you feel a particular kinship with?
I loved working with DJ Haram on MONGO. She is a genius and the supreme bae. Like I know her mental musical library is on some deep culturally expansive shit just based on the flavor of her sounds. Our musical auras go well together and we make FIYA transcendental music. I also love connecting with Mighty Mark who is also a bae but he gets how that old Baltimore club should be revitalized and transformed without losing the classic vibes of it. As far as collectives go I fucks with the BK baes, Papi Juice cause no shade they the only party I’ve been to in NYC in the past five years that made me feel worthy and powerful and people are actually dancing. I love what the art young black art queenz are doing from people like 3 Dot Zine to Aurel Haize Odogbo to Kimberly Drew. I also fuck with my loves BaltiGurls, a storming and legendary black and brown womyn arts collective who are changing the landscape of artistic public platforms like exhibiting art to throwing parties in the DMV.

How would you describe your Kahlon party to someone who had never heard of it?
Kahlon is a party that not only provokes physical liberation, being an inclusive space full of underrepresented but powerful identities not only in the audience but also on the stage, is empowering, making it a party and music event that is also metaphysically liberation. It’s a moment.

Cover art by Ghostdrank

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