America's Queer Underground to Host 12-Hour New York Dance Party

Needle
The NeedlExchange

Following their diverse celebration of LGBTQ Bed-Stuy culture, Red Bull Music Academy returns this weekend with another New York-based dance event, this time honoring America's queer underground community with a 12-hour dance marathon of disco, house, techno and all genres in-between. The event features eight pioneering collectives, pulled from across the states, to represent the historical impact and importance of electronic music in fostering today's queer culture.  

Related | Red Bull Music Academy Celebrates Bed-Stuy's QTPOC Music Culture

Though all parties and promoters represented are run by queer men, RBMA welcomes "people of all orientations to express their own definition of freedom and fun on a sweaty dance floor." Honey Soundsystem, WRECKED, Honcho, Spotlight, NeedlExchange, Men's Room, The Carry Nation and DJ Holographic will all be participating this Saturday, May 13 for one massive indoor/outdoor celebration. 

OUT caught up with a few of the groups ahead of this weekend's big event, below. Click here for more information and tickets. 

WRECKED (NYC)

OUT: What style of music is predominately associated with your collective? 

Wrecked: The music Wrecked is known to present at our parties is an inclusive, expressive, vivid [and] psychedelic sound, featuring music from the past 50 years. Both of our tastes are eclectic and go deep into artists, not just genres, as we like our community to experience something new at every gig. It's all about a pleasant trip with a great space filled with likeminded individuals.

What are the typical venues you host parties at like? 

Since Wrecked began, we have always preferred a legit venue to ensure the safety of our guests. We have gone beyond and been renegade in producing warehouse parties too, but it can be exhausting, so we're fortunate to use a proper venue allowing us to relax and enjoy the party a bit more. Our new home at Analog is a perfect fit for us. They have an amazing sound designer, Shorty, who has been building audio setups since 1985 and responsible for building the award winning sound system at Stereo in Montreal. Analog's owner and staff appreciate and understand our concept 100 percent, plus really love our crowd. That's a very special thing. 

How do you compare to the other collectives on the bill? 

For one, New York is a tough town—being able to go strong for 6 years is an accomplishment and huge honor, so we're extremely grateful of that. We want the best for NYC's gay community, bringing the most beloved talent that knows how to keep our dancers going until dawn. All other collectives for Trade Show approach their concept similarly, uniting the gay community, not just in the US, but worldwide, so May 13 will be a "mighty real" family affair. 

THE CARRY NATION (NYC)

OUT: What style of music is predominately associated with your collective? 

The Carry Nation: Having both been DJs in NYC for over the last 20 years, we pull from its history through the lens of the current global underground: house, techno and disco for all

What are the typical venues you host parties at like? 

We began in lofts and warehouse spaces, and currently reside at Good Room in Brooklyn, which has a great lofty-warehouse look. This allows us to focus more on the music than the running of the venue like we had to in our more DIY spaces.

How do you compare to the other collectives on the bill? 

All these crews wouldn't feel so connected if we didn't have similar goals in our party-making: bringing good music to the gay underground. As is a tradition in New York, vibrancy, open-mindedness and dancefloor drama always rule our night.

HONCHO (PGH)

OUT: What style of music is predominately associated with your collective? 

Honcho: I'd say it's body music—growly basslines and more tripped out sounds are usually an element no matter what style we're in: disco, house or techno.

What are the typical venues you host parties at like?

Our monthly party happens at Hot Mass, which is a super intimate club built inside a gay bath house. It's a very DIY space, but now [we're] moving towards year 5 there, so it has come a long way over the years. It's dark, it's loud, it's tight and the whole place sweats. We first chose the space because of the late hours that it could operate—until 7 AM, sometimes later—but quickly realized the small size and sexual energy of the bath house was a perfect fit for what Honcho was trying to do as a party. When we do our occasional Denver or Philly Honcho parties, we also try to use nontraditional spaces: martial arts, dance studios [or] warehouses. It's good to transport people out of the typical gay club that they may be burned out on. 

How do you compare to the other collectives on the bill? 

The cool thing is that all these different collectives have their own unique twists that they pull off. It's super inspiring. For us, it's definitely our home venue, Hot Mass. There's a lot of freedom in the place because we have some ownership in it. The bath house, Club Pittsburgh, really lets us drive the ship, so we've been able to realize exactly what we want out of it. I think we can also get away with more challenging music because of the small size of the room. The crowds are with us the whole way.

SPOTLIGHT (LA)

OUT: What style of music is predominately associated with your collective? 

Spotlight: We prioritize LGBTQ DJs and producers with strong house and techno roots—people who simultaneously tap into our culture’s rich musical history and work to push it forward. Our parties are known for eclectic dance music, from the uplifting and fun to the dark and mischievous.

What are the typical venues you host parties at like?

We host our events at large, empty, industrial spaces away from sleeping neighbors. These spaces are total blank slates, so we get to make each event feel different every time.

How do you compare to the other collectives on the bill? 

Los Angeles does breed a certain bratty, entitled type—those people who pay hundreds of dollars for bottle service to look at celebs. Spotlight is decidedly off-the-grid and the party takes a bit of effort to find. The other collectives luckily have legitimate venues that "get" them and support what they do—we are constantly on the move, having to create that space for ourselves each time.

THE NEEDLEXCHANGE (DC)

OUT: What style of music is predominately associated with your collective? 

The NeedlExchange: One of the characteristics that distinguishes The NeedlExchange from other parties is our three-way, b2b approach to the booth. We spent the first year of our weekly Sunday party playing for 6, 8, sometimes 10 hours non-stop, and most often, to a room of just as many people. We took advantage of our relative obscurity and used this period of growth to solidify an intimate bond behind the mixer, sharing the decks track-for-track and floating in realms that propelled us to communicate beyond conventional language. Each member's unique track intuition compels our sets to exist outside of any defined genres.

What are the typical venues you host parties at like?

We vacillate between two intimate, neighborhood venues for our monthly series, and this allows us to have TNX residents night, as well as host local and nearby guests occasionally. We're very fortunate—our city is ripe with incredible DJs and record labels that like to get down at The NeedlExchange, so we dip from within the District frequently. But for our warehouse parties, and those events we host in more non-conventional spaces, there are a couple of very different, completely off the grid spots that allow for more people to experience the function on a sonic level, in a safe space, where we can host high profile headliners with local DJs and artists on support. We got to great lengths with the sound and the lights to generate a carousel of psychedelic moments. 

How do you compare to the other collectives on the bill? 

The spelling of our name is probably the most obnoxious.

MEN'S ROOM (CHI)

OUT: What style of music is predominately associated with your collective? 

Men's Room: The sound of Men’s Room is indebted to the underground scenes of gay history, including, but not limited to, leather bar disco, Chicago’s house movement, techno raves, vogue balls and queer hip-hop.

What are the typical venues you host parties at like?

The Men’s Room crew is dedicated to bridging the old vanguard with the new, which is why their parties have occupied a number of lost and forgotten venues, most notably Chicago’s now closed Bijou Theater, which at the time was North America’s longest running gay porn theater and sex club, Saugatuck, Michigan’s 36-year-old gay resort, The Dunes and, most recently, The Jackhammer Complex on Chicago’s far north side. Each time an event is staged in one of these pre-AIDS establishments, an active dialog is created between the decades-old existing clientele and a new generation of partygoers.

How do you compare to the other collectives on the bill? 

Our party started at a time when Chicago’s gay scene had zero options for a sexy turn up with good music. Although our name and image reads macho, we make it a point to welcome all races, genders, preferences, sizes, fetishes and weirdnesses.  The MR crew is cut from the same cloth as the others being featured at Trade Show USA—we are a bunch of self-motivated organizers, and sick ass DJs, who are filling a void within our respective city, teaching an entire generation what good music is, but more importantly, to accept themselves.  

HONEY SOUNDSYSTEM (SF)

OUT: What style of music is predominately associated with your collective? 

Honey Soundsystem: We are a dance-music collective—sounds that make your ass shake and your heart swell from the movement. These days we play a lot of acid-house and hypnotic house music alongside the darker sounds coming from the dark-wave scene. We are known for psychedelic sounds and if we hit you with vocals, it is usually something melancholic, robotic, or unruly and empowered. From italo-disco from the '80s to brand new dub-techno sounds, we play a lot of different kinds of dance floors and have to be ready.

What are the typical venues you host parties at like?

San Francisco lost its warehouse scene some time in the early 2000s—a special task force of the police department started aggressively shutting down undergrounds and scaring promoters. It was right before the second tech-boom would fill every empty lot imaginable in the city with condos and businesses. We threw a couple of non-traditional parties before the crackdown, but since then Honey has been in discotheques. For 5 years we did a weekly Sunday party in 300-cap spaces located in the leather bar district of SF. We tried to find spaces that at one time were queer and inject some gayness back into it. As our crowds grew, we needed to find bigger spots. We've been roaming for 10 years now, always looking for new dance coves to keep our fans guessing and enlivened.

SF has a rich history for clubbing and it can be a challenge to keep things new for old-schoolers. Sometimes we throw a party in what seems to be a new club and an older queen comes up and tells you about partying there a decade prior, and sometimes even tells you that it was "better back then." Although the freedom and lawlessness of an underground is unmatched, there is something important to us about a licensed disco. When a legit venue has dedicated staff, a wizard sound guy,and the passion to help you make your party even better, the vibe is felt by strangers as soon as they walk through the doors. There really is nothing like working and partying in the safe hands and care of quality and dedicate night people. Nightlife is messy and it is important to have pros there to catch you when if you fall, it is a space for exploration and fantasy—and not everyone has a "rave crew" of friends to look after them all night. 

How do you compare to the other collectives on the bill? 

Honey Soundsystem has always been about connecting the dots. As soon as we could afford to book a guest from another city or country, we did. Long before we had listeners to download any, we were publishing podcasts from DJs from far away places. We asked strangers to collaborate and first-timers to take a leap of faith. In every case we could, we fostered new relationships and built a bigger gay network for dancing to good music to keep the fruits of our labor "in the family" so to speak. Although the moth flew to the flame to dance, Honey has always been secretly a master matchmaker. 

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