Good vibes only.
The London nightlife scene has long been a community celebrated for bringing people together, but even the most inclusive spaces can sometimes feel alienating, or at the very least monotonous – same songs, same people, you get the drill. This is where Queer Bruk comes in, a new club night founded with the purpose of bringing people together from all walks of night, but with a unique focus on creating a safe space for queer men of colour, free to express themselves without fear of judgement.
“Queer Bruk is an inclusive club night where LGBT+ people are free to grind to Dancehall, Afrobeats, Soca, and more, and feel safe to dance uninhibited by prejudice and hate,” says founder Akeil Onwukwe-Adamson, who started the night in early 2018. “We started this night because we wanted a space that was inclusive, queer-friendly, but not just the same-old top 40 music (which is great, but not our personal taste on a night out). We wanted to hear Dancehall, Afrobeats, Soca, somewhere where we different feel uncomfortable to be completely ourselves – no heteronormative rubbish!”
With several successful nights already in the bag and more on the horizon we catch up with Akeil to find out more behind the taboo-breaking initiative.
When you started Queer Bruk, what was your experience of other London based dancehall / afro-beats nights? Was there anywhere that felt completely comfortable?
There are many nights out there that cater to people who love dancehall, but I, and many of my queer friends, don’t always feel safe to be our complete selves there. They always felt so heteronormative and slightly sinister towards gay men. There are other queer nights that have an R&B, Afrobeats style, that are part of a movement to give a POC presence within gay nightlife, but I wanted to set a night a part that was strictly dancehall and soca. A night that was for EVERY queer person, but specifically for those femme men of colour that I’d see in ‘straight’ venues receiving hate, to dance to music they loved.
What lead you to set up the events, was there a catalyst?
It was a series of nights that I went to that either didn’t feel safe, or, when at queer nights, played the same Ariana Grande or Kylie song. I LOVE that music too, but I just wanted something new. I felt that there were so little spaces for queer POC, and so I thought – I might as well start my own! With the few other nights like mine out there, I felt there was victory in numbers, and I wanted to be part of the movement that create QPOC visibility.
Queer Bruk is a safe space for everyone, but especially queer men of colour – do you feel that traditionally dancehall, afrobeats and socca societies have been closed to accept queer culture?
For sure, but I think almost all genres at some point have been outwardly homophobic and exclusionary. There are many amazing dancehall artists like Spice, Shensea who are for LGBTQ+ people, so I concentrate on the positive forces in the music, and celebrate them.
What changes have you seen in the London nightlife scene recently, do you still feel that the heteronormative attitude is prevailing? If so, what steps would you like to see to dismantle this?
I’ve seen a lot more inclusivity in some spaces; whether it be more queer people in straight places, or more POC in predominantly white spaces. I think there is still a LONG way to go, even in queer spaces there is a prevailing heteronormative ideal that needs to be dispelled. I think just being visible, being present will dismantle the current status quo.
What have been some of the highlights of Queer Bruk so far?
The incredible messages of support, people telling me how important these spaces are, and how important it is to them. I love just being around people who have the freedom to just be themselves, and have a weight off their shoulders.
And what’s the plan to evolve in the future, how do you want to grow the brand and messaging?
My dream is to make it to Notting Hill Carnival, either a float, a stage, just some sort of presence there. I just want to be part of making more space for queer people of colour everywhere.
What is the main takeaway that you want people to feel after a Queer Bruk night?
Just to have a great night and feel safe. Queer Bruk is, first and foremost, a club night, so if people are having fun, that’s all I can really ask for!
Follow Queer Bruk on Instagram here
9 April 2019