CRACK

Meet House of (S)PUNK, the queer collective and club night breaking through in Barcelona

22.06.22
Words by:
Photography: Manuel Cardozo (House of (S)PUNK)

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.

House of (S)PUNK was born out of necessity. Founded by producer, DJ and longtime promoter La Fraicheur in 2021, the party and collective – who recently expanded their operation to incorporate an in-house record label – function as a response to the world around it.

Many of the artists that colour the events and release via the imprint, including the likes of Manel de Aguas, Lola Kay and Drazzit, had previously felt excluded or exploited by the electronic music scene in Barcelona, or endangered by police raids on largely queer spaces. The pandemic and the impact of lockdown on nightclubs factor in here, too; House of (S)PUNK dedicated to promoting DJs and producers who nurtured their talents during lockdown and craved a home for both themselves and their work as the world steadily reopened.

Despite their rising popularity, House of (S)PUNK events are kept intimate and DIY in scale, and the official party Instagram account remains private in efforts to foster a safe and inclusive space for all those that attend. Here, however, La Fraicheur invites us into the fold as she details the motivations behind House of (S)PUNK and expands on the collective’s ethos. She also shares a playlist of tracks from House of (S)PUNK members.

What is House of (S)PUNK?

House of (S)PUNK is a Barcelona-based party series, record label and collective promoting the new pandemic-born queer scene of the city. We are focused on supporting queer, women, trans and cyborg artists. We started in 2021, back when churches, malls and stadiums were allowed to reopen yet clubs were still banned to the side of society – [a result of the] cultural stigma around our culture. As marginalised humans, the club is where we meet and bond and exist freely; it’s a necessary solace for a population particularly touched by mental health issues. We couldn’t accept the double standards anymore, so we decided to gather and care for our community since no one else was going to do it.

Who’s behind House of (S)PUNK?
Myself, La Fraicheur. I’m an an electronic music producer, DJ and party promoter. I moved to Barcelona right before the pandemic hit and discovered an untapped pool of talents that just needed a push. The team is made up of musical artists Manel de Aguas, Drazzit, Lola Kay, AC2, Leduq, Euyinn and Störung, alongside visual artists Monica Llag and La Sedienta Lab, and photographer Manuel Cardozo.

What could party-goers expect to hear at one of your events?

The musical direction is multifaceted. Speaking for us all, we hate going to parties where all you get is eight hours of the same 30-seconds loop. We love to travel between neo-rave, hardstyle, trance, hard techno, industrial, EBM, acid and makina. The underlying theme, though – and where we meet – is that while we take our culture very seriously, we don’t take ourselves seriously. There is a playfulness to our music and how we run the party. This is essential to us! The international techno scene has become so serious and pretentious – it is suffocating. We’re here to bond and play.

What would you like attendees to remember the most about a night at House of (S)PUNK?

A sense of freedom and belonging! Barcelona’s queer scene barely exists as cultural propositions – apart from Maricas. Every techno club is insanely heteronormative and, at times, violent. Plus, the scene is mostly limited to gay masc where non-binary, lesbians or women are not welcome nor cared for – nor catered to.

There was a necessity to offer that space and solace to a community that had to go to Berlin to feel like themselves in a club environment, or go to parties where they would be disrespected, harassed or even hurt by the audience as well as by the security at the door. It’s important to keep in mind the rise of homophobic and transphobic violent attacks and murders in Spain in the past years. The question for us was, ‘How can we provide a safe intimate space for our people to feel at home, seen and respected; a place where they can express and explore their identities’.

Is there a party ethos?

Absolutely, the party is self-run, DIY and created in a circular economy where the community feeds the community. The entrance is either free or €5 at most, so that precarity doesn’t keep anyone outside. Let’s not forget that, in 2021, 42 percent of 18-30’s were unemployed, so it’s all about mutual care.

Could you expand on that some more?

DJs agree to play for close to nothing in order to make sure our event stays accessible. We provide harm reduction when it comes to drug consumption and consent, and we keep our Instagram private to protect everyone’s experience. We’re not trying to be the next ‘new cool Pinterest board for the straight gaze’ and we don’t even put our tickets on sale on RA. That way, we can control who comes to our events. If you want to join, you send us a DM and we chat first about education, values and behaviours before selling any tickets. Once the party is over, you can join a group going to the same neighbourhood as you so that no one has to walk home alone at night. We’re here to have each other’s back first and foremost.

Tell us more about what it’s like hosting queer nights in Barcelona and the difficulties you may face while doing so?
Generally speaking, there is no space for us. At best we are welcome in spaces we have to fight for, but [we are] mostly tolerated in spaces that exploit our culture and identities. There is a shortage of venues in Barcelona and the smaller sized ones – the easier venues to access and actually afford – are often run by transphobic, homophobic, racist alcohol retailers, not cultural entities. They tolerate us but they don’t respect us, and experiences ranging from disrespect to verbal and physical aggression are common occurrences.

So, with a lot of official clubbing spaces being out of reach, we are forced to create our ‘safe spaces’ in some of the most unsafe spaces for us. We often limited to raves in squats, for example. And although a lot of our fondest bonding memories are in those pockets of freedom outside of society, being relegated to spaces that can have no running water, emergency escape nor fire safety is not always the ‘true cool underground experience’ the techno world fantasises about. Ultimately, the power dynamics are not in our favour. We don’t get the money, we don’t get the spaces, we don’t get the platforms and what we try to create is being shut down or appropriated. But this is also exactly why we keep at it: we need our queer joyful moments of solace to fuel our revolution, it’s the only way.

How has House of (S)PUNK changed over the past year?

It has already shifted so much in its one year existence. It launched as a secret intimate queer rave in an art gallery’s basement. Now, we are a record label and we bring our sound to parties in Madrid, Paris and Berlin – we are also working on music videos and photo editorials. The question for us has more to do with, ‘How are we going to evolve in the next few years?’.

What does Pride Month mean to you?

That’s a tricky one. Pride Month is necessary to bring visibility and awareness to our identities and our struggles. But also, it’s kind of like Valentine’s Day, right? An excuse to bring your wife a rose and chocolate so you can keep treating her like shit the rest of the year. Everyone – cultural or political institutions and corporations – loves us and tells us how amazing we are for one month so they can go back to funding anti-LGBTQIA+ policies and actions the rest of the year. Honestly, for us, it has become mainly pink capitalism.

“We couldn’t accept the double standards anymore, so we decided to gather and care for our community since no one else was going to do it” – La Fraicheur

Let’s discuss the playlist – how did you select the tracks and what can we expect from it?

All of the tracks are from our record label releases and feature the artists that make the sound of the party. When police raids targeted queer raves in the city – adding one level of danger to our lives – it was clear to us we had to shift to a digital platform in order to keep existing, creating and visible while being safe. The record label is the extension of the party, so you will also find in this playlist, through all the different genres and intentions, the playfulness that characterises us.

What memories do you have of these tracks at past events?

Memories of the sweaty ceiling of our basement dripping on our heads, the excitement in each other’s eyes when one artist plays another one’s track, and moments of joyous rebellious outburst when a new track starts from the silence following a police harassment and we can resume our dancing lives. Plus, all of the creative steps that go into playing out demos to a crowd to learn from their feedback and make your art better.

House of (S)PUNK Vol. 2 is out on 28 June via House of (S)PUNK. Find the crew on Instagram here 

Connect with Crack Magazine

More from Crack Magazine

If you’re a fan,
become a Supporter

Thanks to our Supporters, we can support artists, our team and the global community of writers and creatives who make Crack Magazine. Support today to keep Crack independent, power our platform, and get a load of music-related benefits in return.