I had so much fun with this show and approached it from a few different angles. Having conversations with Yewande (Ifeoluwa) around queer identities and the music associated with queer culture was a huge inspiration the show. As a queer person, it was great to be able to connect my show with a part of my identity (which is something I also recently said after playing at the Manchester queer night Kiss Me Again (which is an amazing night too)).
I started the show playing a lot of porno music or Porno Groovefrom the 80’s, which is deviant for obvious reasons. I then play Maxine Feldman – Angry Atthis, a reactionary folk classic expressing Maxine’s anger in the heteronormative and homophobic world she was experiencing, pretty amazing lyrics in there. After that, I play Gene (“Jean”) Malin – I’d Rather Be Spanish, made in 1932 in the heat of the prohibition and a part of the “pansy” craze, which vanished pretty soon after. The Pansy era is super interesting, the idea that it was only acceptable to be openly gay if it was for entertainment purposes, consumed mostly by straight people.
As we know, the origins of house and disco came from queer, POC & Latinx communities, often in spaces that were considered ‘deviant’ (by the white supremacist straight patriarchy etc.), so I played a lot of tunes that were played in Paradise Garage in the 70’s and 80’s, and then some more higher tempo Chicago house and (of course) some Dance Mania. I played Moth by Four Tet & Burial because it aaaalways makes me feel weirdly deviant, like I’ve done something wrong? The song reminds me of what thoughts would sound like if you had cheated on someone, or were stalking someone. I can’t really explain it, it just evokes a sort of deviant feeling in me.
Later in the mix I play some Prodigy, which was ode to the fact that I stole a Prodigy CD when I was 16 and got caught & ended up being banned form every single HMV for life lol.
I’d recently come back form Berlin when it was recorded and was listening to a lot of industrial techno and gabber after going to a few nights out there. I played a recording I did of the sounds of Berghain as I was leaving the club. I also played some heavier stuff cause it reminded me of when I was 13 and first got into happy hardcore, a time when I felt really out of place as a teenager and also because I was discovering loads of new music that I thought was for adults because it was played in spaces I wasn’t allowed in.
Sexuality is something that was never discussed in my household. I’m still unsure if my family knows I’ve had sex, I assume so as I’m now 23 and frequently use the ‘sleazy’ emoji on social media posts. For me, Deviance, is intrinsically linked with my sexuality, gender and race – how I present all three is an act of defiance. As I’m very vocal about my distrust of political systems, the structure of society and the institutions that follow.
But sexuality…by jove that’s a tricky one. I’ve never come out. I’m unsure of what that entails. Do you sit down every member of your family, do you bake a rainbow cake and say by ‘I’m queer yo’ or is it more like this is the hottie I’m dating by the way. Either way, it’s not something I’ve even done and I don’t think I ever will. It’s hard enough to justify my own existence defined by the two most obvious differences from those holding the most privilege – my crazy amount of melanin and for the bioessentialists reading, my tits and vagina. And that’s even before we’ve mentioned class. Black womanhood is inherently intersectional. To changes the binaries and suffocating whiteness, we must challenge our preconceived notions of sexuality also. I’m not sure what I would define myself as. I wouldn’t say I’m straight and I wouldn’t say I’m gay but I also wouldn’t say I’m bisexual – I’ve seen enough biphobia to last a life time. Plus living day to day is hard enough as a marginalised person. I’m yet to see a visible black woman in a non traditional relationship. Being indoctrinated with images of cisgender men and women, mostly white and thin with Eurocentric features, has simultaneously left me battling with a mixture of internalised queerphobia and a weird warped sense of self.
Through music, I’ve explored and interrogated my own identity. Growing up with hybrid identity is a blessing and a curse. I can from listening to Panic At The Disco! to Wizkid in a matter of minutes. Sound is a form of art that is both personal and a reflection of a particular moment in time. Ballroom and Jersey perfectly encapsulates my identity. I am black. I am sexual. I am attracted to people other than white men. I am a woman. But most importantly, I am a peng ting. All the different houses with the vogue scene promote acceptance, tolerance, freedom of self expression and unity. These are concepts lacking in other dance music genres. Ballrooms are extravagant affairs – head to toe in handmade costumes are the norm. I’m extra as a person. I like ridiculously girly stuff but I’m not as feminine presenting as Western society requires of me. I’m not delicate looking. An external and internal dismissal of these notions is what you can hear in the tracks I selected. Black trans women activists speaking about their intersectional and relatable experiences, songs about sucking dick and lyrics telling men to fuck off. An hour of straight Yewande greeze.