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“Honestly, the cheap drinks, the lack of misgendering or agro from any other club goers, plus no queue for the toilets,” says Teddy, 30, a playwright from east London. “It’s also amazing how accessible they’ve made it – with British Sign Language interpretation, and the funds they’re raising for The Outside Project.”
We might still be in lockdown – but this is Queer House Party, a weekly virtual club night taking place on Zoom every Friday night and keeping the dance floor alive – proving how queer culture marches resiliently on in the face of adversity.
“I’ve been isolating on my own for two months, so Queer House Party was a way to perk myself up,” Teddy tells HuffPost UK. “It gave me an excuse to get out of my pyjamas and turn a look. It also became a communal thing I could do with friends around the country. We all video chat as we get ready then dance ‘together’ all night.”
Another set of partygoers, Kevin and his husband Andrés, a writer and educator, who are both 30 and live in Edinburgh, say they joined Queer House Party to feel better connected – as well as to exploit the opportunity for cheap drinks. “It was handy not having to travel anywhere, and being able to buy your night’s drinks from Lidls,” says Kevin.
“We didn’t really know what to expect,” Kevin confesses to HuffPost UK. “We were keen to join the house party when it opened, so arrived early in case there was a queue to get access (I don’t know why we thought there would be a Zoom queue).”
Luckily, there was no queue. “We spotted friends from Edinburgh and other parts of Scotland,” says Kevin, “and we were able to get a kebab delivered to our flat for when we left the party at midnight.”
Both Kevin and Teddy are attracted to how inclusive the space feels and how guests are encouraged to decant alcoholic drinks into discreet containers to show solidarity to sober friends. There’s the opportunity to turn your camera on or off, so introverts needn’t be on show to others if they don’t want to be, and increasingly, daytime Queer House Party events are being thrown at the weekend to entertain a crowd who aren’t naturally alert for the club night’s runtime of 9pm-1am on Fridays and the ‘after parties’ that run on later.
“I LOVED the fact that I could get dragged up and do my turn from my bedroom without having to leave the house or traipse around half of London with a suitcase of drag rolling behind me. I didn’t even have to get the night tube home,” says performer Fagulous, who performed in one of Queer House Party’s live cabaret slots recently.
They ordinarily do a Kate Bush routine in full falsetto, but ran into problems during the home performance that only added to the fun. “Fine when you’re in a gay bar, but my neighbours would not have been impressed with me screeching Wuthering Heights at 11 o’clock at night,” says Fagulous.
Once the challenges of orchestrating a live performance from a bedroom have been overcome, Fagulous says Queer House Party has also been a real help professionally. “I’ve been surprised at how creatively draining the lockdown’s been, so I’m quite thankful to the venues that have approached me. It’s helped sharpen my creativity, and given me the space to focus on generating new content without pressure.”
“I think it’s important to note that our community is built out of necessity,” says Harry Gay, organiser, who has worked in various support roles for the LGBTQ+ community ranging from supporting people in the asylum process to supporting homeless queers. “Seeking connection and strategies for resistance and resilience is not luxury, it’s vital for survival,” he says.
Gay often grabs the mic and makes announcements about support groups and charities in need of donations due to Covid-19, and other wider issues facing queers and minority groups throughout the night: serious interjections between the escapist melodies of the pop and disco anthems.
One topic Gay is currently promoting is the visibility of trade unions for queers and other minority groups that feel, or have ever historically felt, misrepresented, unfairly treated or misjudged in the workplace.
“We’ve historically been excluded from spaces so we’ve always been great at creating our own, looking for people and communities in which we can see ourselves,” Gay continues. “As traumatic as this can be, the end result is pretty beautiful - I love being part of a strong, supportive and powerful community that fights for each other… clubbing has been the catalyst for all types of queer organising, we are really lucky to be part of this tradition.”