12 February 2021

Heather Glazzard’s Nostalgic Photos of Pre-Pandemic Queer Raves

Opening up their 2017 - 2020 archive, the London-based photographer's latest zine celebrates the late nights that are too good to remember.

The World Before Sanitiser (2021) © Heather Glazzard

Yorkshire-raised, London-based photographer Heather Glazzard first caught our eye with Note to Self, a project pairing intimate portraits of the queer community with letters written to their younger selves. In the years since we featured this series in our Listen Up! Issue, Heather has continued to develop their practice in new ways — such as with collaborative zine and exhibition Porridge, which explores queer intimacy alongside their partner Nora Nord, or editorial work for the likes of Vogue Italia. 

Whether in the context of fashion photography or more experimental work, Heather’s work captures charged moments of intimacy and energy that feel all the more poignant in today’s socially distant world. This emotive approach is on full display with their latest project: The World Before Sanitiser. With proceeds from its sale going to Heather’s top surgery, the zine brings together images from queer parties between 2017 to 2020. Harking back to the messy, joyful world of LGBTQIA+ nightlife at a time when parties and clubs remain on hold it’s a necessary reminder of the power of togetherness and community. 

Below, we catch up with Heather to talk about how their practice has developed, rejecting bourgeois aesthetics in their work and what queer nightlife means to them. 


What’s Lockdown 3.0 been like for you?

This Lockdown has been way harder than the others, I lost people close to me from Covid and I’ve been finding it harder to focus. It feels slightly slower than the last two, but I’m really grateful I could find the focus to pull this zine together and for my friends around me for pushing me to do it.


Has the pandemic changed your relationship to your work? I know it’s been a lot harder for photographers to shoot.

I found the power of saying no to things I don’t want to do or things that don’t align with my work. I also found the voice inside to stand up for myself or to have discussions about what’s wrong with the creative industry. I think when you first start taking photos you think you have to say yes to everything. The past year taught me to ask; “Will this work make me feel good? Is it saying anything?” If not, I don’t do it. I’m really grateful for this time to be able to get to this point.


What does queer nightlife mean to you?

It means been around your chosen family, going anywhere in the world and still felling that sense of family. It means having 7 cigarettes in a boxed smoking area. It means dancing with people you’ve never met before. It means so many things but ultimately, for me, it represents a central part of who I am and who my mates are.

The World Before Sanitiser (2021) © Heather Glazzard

The photos in The World Before Sanitiser  really evoke that feeling of togetherness that queer nightlife can inspire. While clubs remain shut, have you been able to stay connected to your community?

I have and I haven’t. I see everyone separately over video calls or on walks and I chat with people on Instagram but it’s hard. I think some days you isolate yourself and other days you want to talk to everyone. In this time, it’s really important that we should be physically distanced but not socially distanced, though some days that’s hard to remember.


How has your photography developed over the years? Is that change reflected in the zine?

I used to think my work should be proper clean but now I’ve realised that’s just some narrative I’ve pushed onto myself to try fit with the more “I’m middle class and can afford an expensive camera” vibe. So I think I’m allowing my work to not be perfect all the time. I think partly that’s why this zine felt so good to do, it’s not a set-up image, some are blurry or not lit well, and some are taken with my sellotaped together camera, and that’s okay.


What’s the first thing you’re doing once lockdown is lifted?

Partying, of course. I’m gonna have a house party.


Get your hands on a copy of ‘The World Before Sanitiser’ here

  • All photos The World Before Sanitiser (2021) © Heather Glazzard

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