“We are a diverse group of women taking hold of the tech and decks, smashing the patriarchy and supporting under funded radical grass roots organisations,” explain the London-based events collective Resis’Dance. The group, who are bringing politics to the dance floor, are gaining momentum and support for their efforts in directly tackling misogyny, racism, classism, homophobia and transphobia.
Their upcoming and fifth event Resis’Dance Live Sessions at London’s LimeWharf on December 17 will feature performances by Rebekah Ubuntu and Mwen, while raising money for SOAS Detainee Support who work in solidarity with people being held in immigration detention.
The collective are on a mission to fight back against the unsafe and threatening vibes that infiltrate nightlife, creating spaces “where marginalised people can feel safe and free to express and be themselves” while also investing their labour in grass roots political action and raising money for activist communities.
The group speak to aqnb about their active role in building political affinity, spreading awareness, fighting back against the force of gentrification and supporting the under-represented.
** When was Resis’Dance ‘born’?
Resis’Dance: We started the collective after all meeting at an interactive political action which was created to disempower Nigel Farage’s election campaign last year in 2015. Two of the women on that day were in charge of the music and started discussing their love for music and the need for more female led music spaces within the activism circle. They felt that there was something missing and they wanted to start something new. We just started meeting and planning our first night from then on and decided that The Silver Bullet in Finsbury Park will be where we held our first night. More women joined the collective from then on and we established Resis’dance. One of our aims was to create a space where women can feel empowered to organise together.
** I’ve been to a couple of your events and was taken aback by how comfortable I felt, good vibes. Is it hard to strike a balance between creating this kind of space while also keeping open arms to everyone? Do they all go this smoothly?
R’D: It doesn’t all go smoothly, but Resis’Dance tries to create a space where this is empowering. Unfortunately, there are many instances where it isn’t empowering. The BLM [Black Lives Matter] movement helped raise awareness of the need for intersectionality in feminist and anti-racist organising in general. Although intersectionality is a blurry term, creating a diverse space is a large part of what Resis’dance aim to do.
At the last night we had a group of women that we trained to be our feminist militia who were wearing big foam hands and would point out anyone who was reported to be harassing women. We did this because many women have reported feeling unsafe clubbing, particularly when there’s been male bouncers who haven’t believed them or protected them sufficiently.
Our philosophy is that we prioritise the voices of people who normally feel uncomfortable in ‘normal’ party spaces. It is a diverse group in terms of race and class and background, but we are all women who have experienced violence in the club/party scene, or just being out. So our main priority is to create an atmosphere where women can feel free to be themselves, without the threat of the male gaze or being judged for being who they are. We create a safe space for everybody, we prioritise the voices of trans, non-binary, and people of colour where they might not have a voice elsewhere.
** Would you want to take the collective to other cities, or do you think you have ‘work’ to do that’s specific to London?
R’D: We would absolutely love to take it to other parts of the UK, but at the minute our main priority is making a difference in London. As said prior, we aim to aim to create anti-commercial spaces, by supporting venues that are at risk of gentrification, or fighting back against gentrification, such as we did for our first party at The Silver Bullet, before it closed down. We throw our parties in those spaces and aim to support organisations that are also aiming to make a difference
** Do you work with/raise funds for a different activist community for each event or are there a few you have a tight collaborative relationship with?
R’D: We aim to raise funds for a different grass roots or activist community every time. Resis’dance as a crew believe and want to raise money for activist groups that otherwise wouldn’t have funding, or may find it hard to access funding because of how radical they are. It’s about raising money, but also bringing different campaigns and activist groups together on the dance floor, giving momentum for the movements as well. We wanted to create a space where music can synergise with this as well.
Resis’dance needs to grow a little bit more, recruit more women with more skills in order to keep up the energy. We want women, trans women, or non-binaries to join us and work with us to throw radical parties. A lot of the women in our group are so passionate, but we need some more skills under our belts, so our immediate future is to do more skill shares with the group and other women who are interested, as well as spending more time practicing those skills. We aim to continue to raise money, and fight against patriarchy.
** Who else have you collaborated with?
R’D: Some of our past events have included; Black Dissidents, Sisters Uncut, Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants, Movement by Any Means Necessary and Latin Americans Women’s aid. In line with that Resis’Dance has raised money and aims to continue to host workshops for trans, intersex, non-binary people, people of colour that are interested in DJ-ing or learning tech in order to support opportunities that might otherwise might not be presented, especially in London.
** Is it important that the venue’s you work with have aligned politics, or are you interested in occupying any type of space?
R’D: We aim to support venue’s that are at risk of gentrification, but in addition we are interested in occupying spaces that can align themselves with our aims and mission. Sometimes that doesn’t work out but it doesn’t necessarily mean that the party itself isn’t taking up a much needed space, and the funds aren’t going to crucial movements.
Sometimes we have issues during the events about our safer spaces policies; cis men coming in and challenging our safer spaces crew, or bouncers not quite understanding what our safer space policy is. But we have our feminist militia in place at every party who are trained by us, to believe and support anyone that faces sexual harassment, or any kind of violence towards them at our party.
** Are you noticing a decline in LGBTQ nightclubs and venues as London is becoming increasingly bleached by gentrification?
R’D: Yes, there is an decrease in safe LGBT nightclubs and with that safe spaces for LGBTQ as racism, homophobia, transphobia, like other oppressive norms, exist on the dance floor like everywhere else.
We want to support groups, campaigns, and organisations that are outside of traditional ‘scenery’ as well. We’re trying to make space with people who want to create their own space, where their voice and music might not be heard or appreciated within a traditional party/music scene, we aim and focus on creating spaces with these groups. We’ve definitely faced difficulties. Sorting our venues, logistics around it, because we ourselves are limited with funding, but we still aim to create those rare safe spaces for LGBTQ and QTIPOC.
With the rate that venues, especially those that are safe spaces for marginalised groups, are closing, it is important to resist this — as it is linked to the social cleansing that is rampant in London, outside and inside the club scene. **