“I really miss clubs, I miss sweaty basements, dancing with strangers, and toilet hook-ups,” says Harry Gay, co-founder of Queer House Party.
“I even miss being picked on by the mouthy drag queens and being shouted at by straight girls demanding I play Countdown by Beyoncé again (of course I will, it’s a bop, but please stop shouting). I miss every aspect of clubbing and nightlife so much, but until it’s safe, I’ll be at home with my QHP family making new and innovative ways for us to come together as a community.”
That, in a nutshell, is the mission statement of QHP – or Queer House Party – for its Christmas Day digital rave, which is free-to-attend, and promises a plethora of live drag acts and DJs performing down Zoom. The idea is to bring the queer community from around the world together in a safe space on December 25.
“As many as 1.7 million people will spend Christmas alone this year, and amongst the LGBTIQ+ community who are more likely to turn to ‘chosen’ families on Christmas Day due to experiences of exclusion or phobia, this year will be especially difficult,” says Passer, another of the six-person queer household that began staging these digital lockdown raves back in March.
The Christmas Day event begins online from 8pm and runs until late (with direct links to the event splashed around on social media on the big day). But the Queer House Party began to build momentum every Friday night as the place to go to blow off some steam with a cider – or cup of tea – at the beginning of the first lockdown. With hundreds of people partying remotely and all viewable on one Zoom call, it’s was as much fun for attendees like myself to scroll through and spot my friends partying on the call as it was to lose myself in dance.
Viewers can watch the live performances – two or three cabaret stars often performed during the Friday night events, from their living room or even their driveways! – while waiting for the next banging tune from the DJs. And there’ll be even more live performers than usual this Christmas.
“At its inception, the Zoom party attracted thousands of people each week. Months on, the reasons for our success are clear: we’re camp, radical, accessible, DIY, and community-focused,” says Gay. “While online parties will never truly replicate the full experience of being in an LGBTIQ venue or queer club, we hope what we’ve created is giving people the same sense of community and release we found when out and about on the London scene.”
Queer House Party is also political, as he suggests, it advocating for workers’ unions for queer people, and spreading its political messages on Instagram.
As another housemate Seren/Wacha puts it: “It has never been more urgent to demand space and advocate for those who are trampled on by Tory capitalism, so while Boris tucks into a Turkey the size of his ego, we’ll be kicking off – and raving.”
Back to the party though, and remember there’s the option of turning your camera off if you’d rather rave anonymously, so there’s no need to dress up. But for extroverts or those who fancy showing off their Christmas outfits, it’s camera ON and an activation of the digital ‘hand up’ button to join the queue to have your home broadcasted in the main Zoom window for all participants to see.
And if you fancy something more chilled out, there’s another meet up event run by the Not Alone at Christmas group on meetup.com, which is also free to attend and begins at 3pm on the day. The event invitation reads: “Remember it’s not the end of the world and there will be millions of people spending Christmas alone at home... Anyone who wants to join can attend and we can have a chat and eat our turkey together.”
Queer House Party is free-to-attend on Christmas night from 8pm. Register here.