In search of solidarity: Welcome to Queer House Party
Crack Magazine is marking Pride season with a series of specialist mixes and playlists dedicated to LGBTQ+ club nights and promoters. From the iconic parties of bygone eras through to the emerging events breaking through in 2022, we’ll be highlighting the sounds of these parties and the artists that shape them.
For many LGBTQ+ people, the dancefloor provides not only a place to let loose and be free, but also a vital community setting. When the pandemic hit, such gatherings could no longer take place physically. As such, there was a need to adapt and find new ways to maintain this unity and sense of solidarity – especially for those stuck in lockdown environments without their queer chosen family and friends. This is where Queer House Party came in.
Launched on the first Friday of the initial lockdown in England, in March 2020, their live streamed parties quickly evolved from a virtual meeting among a group of friends to a widescale event attracting thousands of people each week. The collective – who were living together in London, and working hard in frontline roles at the time – had no idea just how popular their kitchen-launched project would become. By the end of the UK lockdowns, their virtual parties had became a digital haven for those looking to commune and have a dance at home.
Alongside their foundations of queer DIY radicalism and solidarity, Queer House Party’s events also place emphasis on accessibility. For the live streams, the collective brought on team members working across BSL [British Sign Language] interpretation, closed captions and audio descriptions, and the virtual platform itself presented those who could not – or did not wish to – attend physical events with an opportunity to experience the dancefloor in an alternative way.
In the time since the project’s launch, Queer House Party have gone on to open for Years and Years at London’s Wembley Stadium and release their debut compilation NOW THAT’S WHAT I CALL QHP, which raised funds for Calais Appeal. There’s also a collaborative essence to the collective’s approach. It’s a focus which has seen them team up with Cybertease – a collective of unionised sex workers who also formed during the pandemic.
This week, Queer House Party will head to Hungary for Sziget Festival before venturing back to the UK to perform at Boomtown and Margate Pride. Ahead of time, we caught up with the crew to discuss their start, accessibility and the radical community potential of queer nightlife spaces. We’ve also got our hands on a Queer House Party mix recorded live at Body Movements in London. The hour-long b2b2b captures the collective’s exuberant energy and is filled with wall-to-wall dancefloor bangers. Check it out below.
What is Queer House Party and when did it first launch?
Queer House Party started on the first Friday of lockdown. We pulled together some busted up equipment and cheap decks, and live streamed us DJing from our kitchen. At the time, we were frontline workers. We were doing our jobs alongside live streaming the weekly events – it was chaos then, and it still is now!
Did you have an audience in mind when you started streaming?
The online party was initially meant for just our friends, but then a couple thousand people started rolling through. It seemed like everyone needed a release because of all the awful stuff that was going on at that time. We were all going through that, so there was that connection there.
How have the events grown and changed in the time since the first lockdown?
passer: We’ve obviously changed loads; the pandemic is over, so the weekly live streams are no more. We’re playing out at clubs, festivals and running our own parties IRL. However, we tried to keep a lot of the things we learned through lockdown in our physical parties. We want to keep them available to people across the world and to those who can’t – or don’t want to – leave their houses. This means we still live stream most of our events and have access services available such as BSL [British Sign Language] interpretation, closed captions and audio descriptions.
Harry Gay: We’ve gone from our run-down kitchen in an overpriced London house share to opening for Years and Years on his UK arena tour… New Cross to Wembley! We’re also able to throw the kind of parties we’ve always wanted to while highlighting and showcasing the people we believe deserve to be on stage, which is really special.
Who is involved in the project?
We run as a collective of five people: Harry Gay, Wacha and passer are the DJs and Liv Wynter and Taali are our hosts. We’re a majority non-binary and trans* crew. For our in-house events, we also work with an amazing access team who’ve been with us since lockdown. There’s Dr. J, Max Marchewicz, Josephine Baird and Dot Egg, who work across online tech, BSL interpretation, live captioning and audio description respectively.
Tell us a little about the importance of accessibility at Queer House Party.
Wacher: From as early as our second and third online event, Queer House Party was able to grow and improve thanks to people getting in touch and pointing out how the event could better serve the community – by us bringing on a BSL interpreter, then an audio describer, and then a live captioner. Because we were completely DIY and not running events for any reason other than to bring people together, we had the flexibility and motivation to reach as much of the queer community as possible.
What did you learn from this?
W: It became clear that the queer nightlife scene had been letting down our queer d/Deaf and disabled siblings for a long time. We’ve since transitioned into in-person events, but we’ve kept the online element as well as the BSL, audio description and captioning. We also ensure that the spaces we run our events in are accessible.
Elsewhere, we’re committed to having d/Deaf and/or disabled performers on every lineup, and our event ticketing runs on a sliding scale – we offer free tickets to those for whom paying for a ticket would be a barrier, as well as to support workers. The work to be accessible is never ‘done’, though. We want to remain as open to feedback from our community as possible in order to keep doing better. Next year, we’ll be looking to move into venues where we can host sober, quiet spaces, and exploring what work we can do with our platform to demand better accessibility from venues and festivals.
What could attendees expect to hear at a Queer House Party event?
P: Our three resident DJs play a spectrum of different music – you can hear that quite distinctly in our mix.
HG: We all play different music in our sets, but there’s also a lot of overlap. Our only rule when we’re playing out as Queer House Party is to play bangers that make people dance. Our crowd is really diverse in every way, meaning that we try and keep the sound broad to cater to – and include as many – people as possible!
I mainly play hard, hyper, and Chicago house belters alongside filthy bootlegs, pop anthems and slaggy bangers. But, as a party, we don’t stick to one genre. We just judge the vibe and blast out what works for our crowd. This can range from an obscure 85 BPM t.A.T.u mashup to a 190 BPM Mandidextrous edit. I refuse to take myself or my mixes seriously – I’m more concerned about having fun and seeing what I can get away with. So far, this has resulted in me mixing Vengabus, WAP, and Toxic simultaneously, which makes people scream as much as it makes them wonder what the fuck is going on.
What was your first IRL party like?
Carnage, stunning, chaos and beauty.
And what is it you’d like attendees to takeaway from your events?
P: We try to make our parties a really radical and supportive place where we can express a mutual care for each other through dancing, performance and the politics we centre. So we hope people take that into the world with them afterwards.
W: Our parties are fundamentally connected to our shared struggles as a community; we recognise the nightlife space as one with a potential for building solidarity and energy, rather than something separate or enclosed from our day-to-day lives. The freedom and joy that can be experienced in queer parties is unparalleled, and there’s power in that. Recognising our queer identities as having political significance is increasingly necessary in the face of corporate assimilation – we want party-goers to acknowledge the role we must play in standing with our trans siblings, our siblings without citizenship, and our homeless and vulnerably housed siblings.
"Our parties are fundamentally connected to our shared struggles as a community" – Wacher
Let’s talk about your mix, which you recorded at Body Movements Festival 2022. What can we expect to hear?
HG: I’ve chosen some of my favourite tracks from 2022 so far and also included some QHP classics. Almost all of the tracks are either by femme artists or have femme producers. This wasn’t intentional but does highlight the fact that’s always where I seem to end up!
W: I think this might actually be my first-ever mix without a Beyoncé remix, which feels like a significant moment? I’ve included some Gafacci who is one of my all-time favourite producers, then a couple of janky hip hop remixes I’ve discovered recently from SoundCloud rooting. I end on Rastronaut who I’m absolutely loving at the moment, and inevitably Ahadadream has to feature – he’s sprinkling some kind of magic on his tracks; they’re consistently absolute floor-fillers.
P: I had to include a track from our recent EP which was full of work from beautiful queer artists and was raising money for Calais Appeal. DJ Soyboi and salt pillar’s track was a standout from that one. Then I wanted to end us on a heavier, faster and ravey note with some of the more late-night tunes I have been playing recently.