Excuse me, is this a political party?
Notes from the session
Partying in Singapore as queer, queer safe spaces to be free, have fun.
different types of parties
safety in parties
origins of these parties
(re how things started)
One of the cofounders of Two Queens is the founder of fly entertainment. All of us on the board are from fly entertainment. In the earlier days, it was difficult to find a space to meet people, to hang out, then they decided they needed to do something. They worked with spaces – started with Tuesday nights, when people didn’t have faith in them bringing in sufficient numbers, but then it grew into weekly parties, at Play
After covid, 1st Two Queens party was in May of last year, at Projector X, and the turnout was very, very strong.
Butter factory gave us freedom to be ourselves.
Art school students craving for space to express individuality after 10 yrs of sch.
Butterface co owners, involved in other venues, Mismatch, yum yum, etc.
Space for ppl who felt they didn’t belong in mainstream.
Mismatch - Focus on Hse and alt music.
Yum yum disco - go way bk, base of clubbing, sparkly
Hip hop - reach out to the different communities
Started as a multidisciplinary platform, space and name to collab w other artists surrounded and inspired by. Throw fun parties. W orbit, created cosmos. Kiki ball. Fill in gaps.
New, evolving. Inspired by existing venues. Inspired by black music. Do dance, experimental, w musicians. Get people together.
CUM: Catch Us Move – was a more drag focused trio, we knew we couldn’t perform anywhere in COVID. Catch us move was named as we would bounce about different bars. CUM is focused on drag productions, such as those in Sydney, like Mardi Gras, with big production numbers of around 30min. Thus, CUM is very production drag based, and also targeted at straight people to enjoy drag – to know that there are drag queens in Singapore, for people to know about the drag scene in Singapore.
At CUM people just get crazy and ratchet as hell, people get to express themselves.
(re care & safety)
Most r out to have fun and b ratchet, not to make trouble. Maybe drunk straight people, but security is always on hand to help. We try to refrain from having to chase people out.
Parties mostly catered to certain groups. So big emphasis on creating a safe space and reminder of house rules. Non-conventional target audiences
it’s more of us prioritizing trans people and their safety first, then followed by queers, then everybody else.
In TQ’ earlier days getting raided on a night is 100%, we would know it would happen and we would be prepared for it – we had to answer q’s w the authorities – if it wasn’t raids – it would be people trying to come into the party to stare. For me when I look at doing a party, we’ll be quite particular about the venue, ask to speak and brief staff, security on site – female and a male – two sides to handle, any incidents would be taken on by the TQ and not the venue – so many things have happened – punched, slapped, on any given night, just trying to intervene – asking people to leave is something as organisers that we have to do – having a safe space seems so simple because it’s a party but it’s not. We have a team on standby, don’t drink too much, ☹ Raids are not so common now, but it makes me apprehensive, so I try to be careful.
Mod: All this informs how we view safety and club culture now, as there was no playbook back then, it’s work previous generations have done.
Safe space for minorities, vs conventional majority party goers.
Think about Malaysia where it’s really sad. Even women’s marches get investigated. Hold space for our less fortunate neighbours.
(re experiencing queer joy, an aspect that brings a sense of joy, freedom, play, pleasure)
0rbit: Aim to have fun. To see familiar faces, retention of people in the community.
Word of mouth, when people hear good reviews / recommendations.
Good events and collaborators. Growing the community.
CUM: seeing the pictures!
TQ: For us, we do variations of, we’ve also done competitions e.g reality competitions for 5-6 years, held over the course of 8 weeks, and when we program things a bit differently, brought the parties a different aspect, such as the white party, an annual beach party for girls which ran for 6 years, attracting girls from Hong Kong, Malaysia. One of the largest turnouts we’ve had 2000 girls, seeing everyone come together, everyone dressed in white on the beach, that’s something I really hope we can bring back now that we’re past covid.
0rbit: Indie / south asian songs I listened to growing up. Playing those songs in a club. Seeing brown people dancing to songs that I liked and having a good time.
Q from audience:
I was a gay guy who loved the women’s parties, could you share some memories of the butch hunt and femmequest parties, I’m very interested in the question of how does transphobia exhibit itself in Singapore nightlife. Have there been sort of female led transphobic at women’s parties, and also how the nation parties were starting to position sg as a global spot for gay parties, and the description of white parties for women was interesting. Has SG been an emerging global spot for women’s parties?
TQ: The thing about white parties is interesting. Our last white party was in 2019 just before covid? Or 2018, that was the year where we got shut down by the authorities a night before the party, at close to 11pm. It came as a very big setback for us and for that particular year we lost a lot of money (be)cause we couldn’t explain to people what really happened. We continued to party (that year) but we had to hold it in a smaller space. We had a DJ from Orange is the New Black, who flew down, we told her she would be playing on the beach to 1500 people, who was disappointed. The experience was shocking because I didn’t expect to face this especially after 6 editions of the white party, we couldn’t blame the venue because they were being pressured as well. It was a problem we couldn’t solve. I took for granted we wouldn’t face problems like this in 2019, coming to 2020. I really want to come back to do this white party, not just for the fact, I can’t believe that this is something that happened to us, in Singapore, so we’ll be able to host people coming into us.
Butchfest, femme quest – there was a period where there was a lot of programming done, the challenge now post-covid, getting a venue is very challenging especially on a weekend. If we do it on a Tues/Wed we can’t garner the same attention, we’re hoping we can do more, but we are lacking venues at this point that would be able to support us.
Mod: These are such real issues, these structural issues, cloak and dagger with the govt or capital related issues, and still just wanting to do this is such an amazing powerful thing.
CUM: Transphobia in parties – I was surrounded by a lot of trans women growing up, they would tell stories about being kicked out in commercial settings. For CUM, prioritizing their space and safety is not a choice but a must for us.
Question from audience:
We are seeing this renaissance, this expansion of space and diversification of partying, I’ve also noticed snippets, there’s an emerging ballroom scene, and I’m wondering in your own experience where did that emerge from, and what is it like?
0rbit: Tomorrow’s session is a ballroom panel, did a collab.
How to market ourselves. Try to be accessible, less intimidating.
Younger crowd, curious to step in. Necessary to fill in the gaps.
Questions from audience:
-When I first moved back to SG 3 years ago, I started going for club nights, and it made me feel at home even though I would go alone, and even though I didn’t know anyone, I just felt like I belonged, a huge difference now and how it was 10 years ago, thank you for organizing.
-The theme of the conference is ‘beyond repeal’: has repeal changed the club scene in any way? What kind of change would you like to see in the future? Do you feel you’re using the club nights to change the politics in Singapore in a way?
(re the future of queer partying in Singapore)
CUM: We’re taking over!
Pandemic has more than e repeal has tbh.
Changed how we see parties and being repressed. Not sure if there has been a significant difference.
Existing in the space is political. Having parties and safe spaces for minorities. Bodily and mental things that we might not realise until one is there.
Why we do this: To provide space and comfort for everyone. Thanks to everyone who come to the parties. It’s why we do it.
Repeal doesn’t make much of a diff. Strive to provide a safe space as priority.
Post pandemic, ppl wanna feel and do things. Revenge clubbing contributed to the momentum.
As for the future, hope everyone will be there to find out.
If everyone comes together like power rangers to come together and be a huge party.
Taking over straight places and more venues.
TQ: In a very small way, parties actually help to educate people about homophobia. I think educating people about homophobia is for them to experience it. If you’re straight, the more exposure you have, the more you understand it. It’s a strange way of looking at it, but you can’t tell people not to be homophobic if they don’t actually know it, their door policies are pretty strict, as long as you’re coming with people and you’re their guests, our door is open, and we hope our parties would help in this way in the long-run, we shouldn’t stop, hopefully there’ll be more organisers, younger ones.
Question from audience: Thank you for creating these spaces. I wanted to ask, is the reason why we create more spaces is because we feel something is lacking. What do you feel is still lacking in the spaces? We’ve come to a point, but there’s always something lacking, where do you see yourselves, the future, how can you add to what is still lacking, what more can be done?
CUM: Honestly no gaps, made by people who are not in the parties, we filled up everything in the market.
More venues. There will always be gaps and ways to be better, working with people to find out what those are.
I’d like to see more collaborations, less competition in the community.
TQ: Providing these spaces is like providing queer liberation, that’s a radical thing to do especially in this place, thank you for providing that in your own respective ways,
Taking over straight spaces could there be discussions that happen with these spaces? What are the roadblocks etc communicating with venues, what’s the tone, if it’s shifted in any way?
CUM: we’re lucky, we have a residency in modular, the bars, tuff club, we’re very lucky to get these spaces.
Question from audience:
Partying is political. Radical.
Repeal and partying diverged. Not much conversation about it.
Not many people are talking about how Pink dot videos used to be played at clubs. Advocacy work at parties. Not saying advocacy should always be merged with partying. But perhaps a thought re: contribution from parties to advocacy work. Possibilities for parties and advocacy to collaborate further.
Interested to have a further and longer discussion about it.
Look at the Malaysian raids, contributed privately.
Some ppl want a space to relax and some want advocacy. Pink dot, indignation, certain events geared towards queer liberation. Will take time and slowly work towards that.