Why hello there, dearest of dear Filthy Dreams readers! Would you like a mimosa or 10? Yeah, we need them too…Today is officially a week from the horrific and tragic shootings that killed 49 LGBTQ people at Pulse nightclub’s Latinx night in Orlando. We assume, like us, you spent this past week glued to your TVs, computers, iPads or phones, trying to figure out how to process the attack. Maybe you attended a memorial or a protest, endured an ill-advised moment of silence or, like us, blasted Donna Summer on your Filthy Dreams’ Shameful Pride Playlist Part Deux: More Shame, Less Pride at cathartically aggressive levels.
As you know, lovely faithful readers, we are invested in nightlife here at Filthy Dreams. Why our memorable name came from the imagined club that Marion and I will still one day open after we’ve alienated everyone else. And beyond the horrors of the bloodshed last Sunday at Pulse, one of the many lasting traumas seems to be the loss of this nightlife space as a sanctuary for the queer community.
Last year, our intrepid contributor Osman and I co-curated Party Out Of Bounds: Nightlife As Activism Since 1980, sponsored by Visual AIDS, at La MaMa Galleria. While the exhibition focused largely on nightlife during the ongoing HIV/AIDS pandemic, the larger thesis asked for an understanding of bars and clubs as “an escape, a community, a forum for information about safer sex practices and a center for activism.” With the attack last Sunday, this notion of nightlife as a form of activism seems perhaps unfortunately timely, all-too-relevant and poignant.
So in tribute to those lives lost and injured in Pulse, we have decided to forgo a normal essay today. Instead, we are going to post excerpts from both Osman and my essays from Party Out Of Bounds’ exhibition catalogue. However let’s remember, we here at Filthy Dreams never let one asshole ruin a party. So crank up Sylvester, put a spring in your two-step and keep on dancing!
Osman Can Yerebakan from Because the Night:
“When the music stops and the lights are back on, a deserted dance floor awaits, holding onto moments resisting to fade away. Within walls of blazing hues and fog surrounding every leaping torso, those, who otherwise would not cross paths, come together as who, how or what loses its value. The party ends early for many, before the eyes of those that remain to witness this vanishing. Today, those who departed are remembered through what they left behind: a quartet, a play or a painting–some were celebrated and recognized and some slowly evanesced first from streets and later from memories. Today in 2015, a resolute thread weaving into decades of struggle and activism vocalizes countless strong narratives of the ongoing HIV/AIDS crisis, not letting memories dissolve or names disappear. Whilst bright gleams of disco balls tingle their eyes and pulsing rhythm beats in their ears, those who yearn to speak out do not abandon the dance floor as there is no better place to raise their voice.
Party Out Of Bounds: Nightlife As Activism Since 1980 grants access to a territory where the ardor is excessive and the crowd accordingly is ardent. In this club both rests an urge to grip the passing of time and anticipation for tomorrow to come. A refuge for the lonely and a shelter for the displaced, this club, like many others, has been to queer kids what Parisian cafes were to the Modernists. Here is a reinterpretation of a past that ties to the present thanks to the efforts of many creative warriors, adopting nightlife and its versatile language as a foundation. Undeniable contrast between the vibrancy of nightlife and the morbidness of an epidemic caters our exhibition, rather than being an inconvenience, embracing unwearying roars of individuals yearning to eclipse the music.”
Emily Colucci, excerpt from Can’t Stop Dancing:
“Despite the unwavering artistic focus of Party Out Of Bounds, art is certainly not the only means to engage with the past, as well as the present and future of nightlife. Through Impossible Dance, Fiona Buckland theorizes that dancing can create an embodiment of memory for those living with HIV or AIDS, as well as for those who lost loved ones. In one of her many interviews with nightlife participants, Buckland speaks to Tito Mesa, a frequent nightclubber who had, at the time of publication, been living with AIDS since 1985. Describing to Buckland how he feels at the Body Positive T-Dance, he exclaims, “I never realized…I dance for myself, I dance for the universe, for all of us in the world with AIDS.”
Mirroring Mesa’s moving statement, Party Out Of Bounds intends to reflect that same embodied memorial. Like Mesa, we dance for John, Ethyl, Cookie and Keith. We dance for David and Peter. We dance for Sylvester, Klaus, Hibiscus, Kwong Chi, Charles, Bruce, Robert, Haoui and Chloe. We dance for countless other artists, performers and nightlife participants who are less known but important nonetheless.
We also dance, like Douglas Crimp, for the lost spaces. We dance for The Saint, The Anvil, Mineshaft, the Toilet, El Mirage, J’s and the Hellfire Club. We dance for MEAT, the Clit Club and Pork. We dance for club Chandelier, Squeezebox, the Mudd Club, Peppermint Lounge, Danceteria, AREA, the Roxy, the Tunnel, Limelight, Palladium and Paradise Garage.
We dance for those spaces still operating that have been irrevocably altered by the ever-evolving city. And finally, we dance for those spaces that continue in the legacy of the formative, campy, radical, revolutionary vision of the bygone days and nights, sustaining nightlife’s legacy of activism.”