Body Movements: Born Out Of Frustration

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Born out of frustration, Body Movements, the UK’s first Queer and Trans electronic music festival kicks off this Summer. Cal Morris catches up with founder Clayton Wright ahead of the event.

Promoter Clayton Wright is a stalwart name on London’s Queer scene – the brains behind Queer rave series Little Gay Brother, FeelLit party and Milk, and founder of the ‘London Promotors Forum’, dedicated to creating open dialogue with promoters of Queer parties across London.

Perhaps his biggest undertaking yet, Clayton’s pièce de résistance Body Movements – the UK's first Queer and Trans electronic music festival – takes place this Summer in Hackney Wick on July 30th.

I caught up with Clayton during Pride month to discuss Body Movements, Queer spaces in UK nightlife, and how we can make Pride political again.

Making Pride Political Again

Pride is and was a riot, political in nature whose function was to raise visibility for marginalised people. Since the mid 00s, the belly of the beast has mutated, causing heaps of corporate money to be thrown at each city’s parade with the hopes sponsor = profit.

Queer and Trans folk have been pushed to the background during these events, ironic for a movement that praises acceptance and inclusivity (now only if your face fits the £20 note).

I asked Clayton about the state of Pride in 2022:

"Pride and pride season personally brings me a lot of anxiety. Pride is and should be political. It was a riot! It’s a day of celebration and remembrance – but unfortunately, it sometimes feels bogged down in rainbow washed acts of allyship, and Pride can often make some members of the community feel isolated and unloved. It’s like a Christmas gathering you weren’t invited to. Pride can feel like a bit of a joke, especially when our Trans siblings are still fighting for basic rights and health care."

Underneath the token representation and band waggoning, Queer spaces in London remain under threat; be that from gentrification, the cost of living crisis, austerity, class divides or even straight bodies now forming the majority in a lot of LGBTQIA+ venues.

This dichotomy between faux acceptance and dismissal of active support makes Queer nightlife both thrive and live under threat, though always survives. This is what inspired Clayton and co-founder Saorise to think differently...

Body Movements

"Bored" by the state of the scene, Clayton and Saoirse founded Body Movements in an attempt to create an event more representative of their community:

"Body Movements was actually born out of frustration. Saoirse and myself were so bored and annoyed of looking at events that label and market themselves as “gay/Queer” club nights but are ran by straight people and straight-owned companies who are here to profit from and commodify our community’s identity, sexuality and culture – we wanted to see if that could change.

Together, we wanted to produce something authentic; a festival created by Queer people, for Queer and Trans people, celebrating Queer and Trans electronic music. Body Movements is officially the first Queer and Trans electronic music festival in the UK, and it still blows our mind there are not things out there like it!"

And in an attempt to attract the right crowd, Body Movements has taken a different approach to programming, working with collectives and forming partnerships with crews rather than announcing headliners:

If you’re not part of these communities and you don’t go to these nights, then, Body Movements is not for you”.

Think nightclub collective Adonis, infamous for their riotous debauchery, and queer party, and record and fashion label he.she.they to name just a couple.

“Body Movements then work collaboratively with the crews to programme their stages, which means you get a true intersection of Queer club culture that is authentic to each collective”

The event promises a smorgasboard of the finest Queer, Trans and non binary talent London and the UK has to offer, and it’s not to be ignored.

The wider UK Queer Club Scene

London has always been one of the queerest places in the UK, long a solace for small town and international queer youth looking for anything and everything.

With this experience, Queer people have often found nightlife to be a safe haven, often an anything goes expression of self. A place where the outside world is gone, surrounded by people who straddle the spectrum of expression, no questions asked. This space is under threat, and has been for some time. I asked Clayton, from a promoter's perspective, what they can do to protect space. It seems to be an ever changing landscape.

"Space, is a challenging word and concept for the Queer and Trans community. Space should be; ‘the freedom and room to be yourself, to feel safe, to be treated with respect, to find your people, and come together to celebrating the and share’ – but that’s not always the case and not everyone can access this.

As an event producer, you must recognise that not all spaces are equal, there is no such thing as a “safe space”; you must be clear when you tell people what a space is for and who it serves. It takes dialogue between yourself, venues, your peers, and the community to do this. The Body Movements community and queer community are super vocal, and we’re constantly talking and learning from each other to create the best experience possible."

This feeling seems more poignant given the current state of the UK post you-know-what. Due to safeguarding practices that actively ignored nightlife culture in London, a lot of spaces were under threat. Even before this, the number of London Queer clubs from 2006 to 2017 went from 121 to a mere 51. Now that we’re on the other side and a lot of clubs made it, what can London do to further the protection of essential Queer cultural institutions?

London is far from being a ‘utopia’ of queer and trans nightlife, but everyone is trying to work towards it. We’re all dedicated to working together to build a stronger future for queer and trans nightlife, but we have a long way to go to improve the overall welfare and safety of our community in nightlife spaces. We’d love some funding and acknowledgment from the GLA so we can keep this important work going please!

The future seems relatively positive, with people now more than ever wanting to get out, connect, and fucking dance. There’s no better a place to do this than a queer night. Better yet, at the UKs first Queer, Trans and non binary electronic festival. Clayton gives thier top tips for Queer clubbing in London and beyond;

Carnival Pride with Jungle Kitty, Black Obsidian Soundsystem, Faggamuffin Bloc Party and Queer Bruk looks HOT HOT HOT”.

Others we love outside of London are: High Hoops in Manchester, Shot Your Shot in Glasgow, Love Muscle in Leeds and Poly-glamorous in Brighton. They are doing great things. Check them out”

As Pride month draws to a close, it’s important not only to respect space if it’s not designed for you, but also to support vulnerable cultural institutions and grassroots projects (nothing new here). Promoters must work to ensure their dancefloor is as inclusive a space as possible, which starts with a diverse range of talent. Clayton gives some advice to young Queer DJs;

“Don’t take no for an answer. If you can’t get a gig, start your own night. Sometimes, there just isn’t enough opportunities out there, and you shouldn’t have to wait for an opening… make your own future and forge your own path”.

And for those looking for a different side of Pride?

"If you want to support your community this Pride, go to Trans Pride; listen, learn and support your trans siblings. I feel the most Pride when witnessing brave acts of faggotry and queer excellence at grassroots movements like London Trans Pride. They need to be commended for their incredible work.

Body Movements happens in Hackney Wick on July 30th, 2022. Tickets from £20 available here.

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