Words by:

At first glance, Dance With Pride seems to be the music industry’s new t-shirt label of choice

The lightweight cotton tees have been spotted at festivals around the globe, from Dekmantel in Amsterdam, their Croatian spin-off Dekmantel Selectors and Atlas Festival In Morocco. Dig a little deeper however and you’ll find that Dance With Pride is not just a t-shirt. It’s an initiative that aims to bring queer visibility back to the dance music community. Originally started as a passion project between two friends from Amsterdam, Dance With Pride now hosts parties in Amsterdam and has ambitious plans for the future.

We caught up with Dance With Pride to discuss the origins of the initiative.

How did the idea for Dance With Pride come about?

Ahmed: The idea started 3 years ago, when I went to Dekmantel instead of Pride, this didn’t feel right. The next year I decided to do both, having left Pride early to go the festival, I felt so alone in a sea of people. I was trying to make people to understand so I wouldn’t feel so lonely in my pride. I really felt the need to raise awareness that it was also pride weekend! I brought Pride beads and handed them out to few friends. I hoped that people I spoke to would understand the difficulty of having to choose between Pride and the music, which is also a large part of my identity. Some shared my position which comforted me, others clearly did not which is what encouraged me to keep on having this conversation with friends. I knew I wanted to create something so that others in my position wouldn’t feel they had to make this choice. When I spoke to Aura about it, the ideas for dance with pride slowly started to develop.

Aura: Ahmed and I had spoken about this multiple times over the years and we both agreed that we could turn this into something positive. We started Dance with Pride by designing the Tshirts and stickers as a visible celebration of pride within the dance music community in Amsterdam. As the roots of dance music stem from diverse queer communities this made Pride weekend the perfect moment to honor this and pay respects.

This is essential reading!

How did you become aware of Queer Welfare Project?

Ahmed: 2 weeks before Pride Amsterdam, I was in a google loop researching queer Hip Hop and RnB events… and somehow I found my way to queerwelfare.nl. Their work involves assisting LGBT+ refugees in the Netherlands and I got in touch with them to offer my services as a translator. However, I discovered they would not be able to continue their work much longer due to lack of funding. As their work is very important to me I decided to plan a night at Kondo on Pride Saturday as a fundraiser. It wasn’t easy to put something together so last minute and we are so thankful that Pariah, Midland, MAYO, Rebelle and Karel were able to play for the cause. I was quite overwhelmed by how well the event went, the music and the vibe (s/o to taps-aff crew) and the turnout was more than I could have hoped for and there were moments when I had tears of joy in my eyes. And to top it all off, we managed to raise enough for PQW to do their important work for more than a month.

Aura: We had initially planned to just give out the Dance With Pride t-shirts to friends and it wasn’t until they asked what we wanted in return for the t-shirts that we realised we could continue our initiative whilst also supporting Queer Welfare to help continue their valuable work. This is when Dance With Pride became the initiative it is now, where the proceeds from the t-shirts and events are donated to Queer Welfare.

DJ’s and festival go-ers were seen wearing the T-shirts at Dekmantel. However, the festival does not raise awareness and has no official ties to Pride. Why do you think that is and are you hoping this will change?

Aura: The fact that they fall on the same weekend is something Dance With Pride can‘t change – we have created this for ourselves and others as a celebration of Pride and not as a comment on Dekmantel. It is also motivating to see parties such as Is Burning thrive, creating space for dance music and queer culture to unify during Pride and beyond.

Ahmed: We hoped that this celebration of Pride within the context of dance music would mean something to those that felt as though they’ve had to chose between one or the other. We also hoped to raise awareness amongst those who may not have considered our perspective before, giving them the opportunity to celebrate with us and donate to Project Queer Welfare.

You recently threw a party at Kondo in Amsterdam. What did that space mean to you?

Aura: Kondo has epitomised the kind of dancefloor we at Dance With Pride strive for. An inclusive space where expression is free and dancing is wild. Having the opportunity to throw a party at your favourite club on the closing weekend was such a honour for us and we sincerely thank Lars and Ramon for creating Kondo. It was such a special place that has kept us dancing and smiling throughout this year. The room has a certain kind of magic that conjures an atmosphere to make everyone on the dancefloor your family. We couldn’t dream up a better venue and it will be truly missed by us!

We had open decks for the first few hours and were able to see friends and locals play the most incredible sets, some having never played in a club before! Then we had Hylke and Hellie Berry playing B2B until the morning, it was such a perfect night. I still feel tingly when I think about it! We know that Kondo can never be washed away in the transient tide of venues as it’s forever in our hearts and minds ♥

What does the future of Dance With Pride hold?

Ahmed: The initiative is built around reunifying queer culture and dance music, so the future focus is on throwing proudly queer parties at safe(r) spaces which will allow us to create the kind of dancefloors we want to see more of. Our line-ups will focus mainly on giving platforms to queer, POC, trans and women-identified artists and we want to continue to allocate time for open decks where possible. We look forward to announcing our next party over ADE!

Aura: You will soon be able see some of the Kondo magic on film soon as we collaborated with the Blitzkickers crew to capture the space, the people and the dancefloor in all their glory.
We have just restocked the t-shirts at Bordello a Parigi, and we’re developing new merch that will be available soon instore and online. The proceeds from merchandise and events will continue to support to Project Queer Welfare, and other important causes that resonate with us. We dream big and as we are both Virgos, we know how to take care of business, so there’s no limit!

Keep up with Dance With Pride on Facebook

Keep up with Dance With Pride on Facebook and Instagram