FEATURE: He.She.They – My Inspiration | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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He.She.They have a unique concept and ethos, which sets them aside from other promoters, aiming to create ‘A place without prejudice for people to be people’. From performers, to artists such as Maya Jane Coles, Ellen Allien, Magda, Miss Kittin, Honey Dijon & George Fitzgerald, He.She.They are about giving those who push boundaries a platform at venues worldwide including Ministry of Sound London, Pacha Ibiza & Watergate Berlin, and invite partygoers to push their own boundaries. We find out more about what inspires them, ahead of an appearance at Digital in Newcastle on Saturday 2nd March from Steven Braines.

It’s so nice to be writing this article. As a kid from the North East who ran nights in Sunderland and Newcastle, there’s an element of Deja Vu in running a night in Newcastle again. In between now and then, some cool things have happened to me. I’ve managed number one artists like KDA, legends such as Tricky, helped unearth global talent from the region like Nadine Shah and I’ve managed DJs from Maya Jane Coles and Catz ‘n Dogz, through to Magda and Tale of Us. I’m a bit older and wiser this time around and none of my events have ever been as conceptually important to me as He.She.They, which is collaborating with the legendary Shindig at Digital. 

I started He.She.They with my business partner and fellow raver Sophia Kearney. The idea was a super simple one, to create a party that felt inclusive no matter if you were a queer female person of colour, or if you were a straight white CIS male. Or as we put it a “place without prejudice for people to be people”. In our own friendship groups and businesses those bonds exist, so why couldn’t they exist on a dance floor? Especially when house and techno was originally built on inclusivity and diversity from its beginnings in Chicago and Detroit where the DJs were people of colour and/or queer. There’s been such an amazing embracing of the concept. We started off in London running an official event for London Fashion Week and within a year we have gone from New York to Newcastle via Ibiza, Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam and Dublin.

This is the first time we’ll be formally collaborating with another night to such an extent but we’ve known the Shindig team forever and they share the same values. Indeed, as a young pansexual man in Newcastle, I always found that Shindig was a place I could go and no one fluttered a false eyelash if I was kissing a lad one week and a lass the next. Indeed, Newcastle with its Pink Triangle, to my earliest days of going out to Powerhouse, Nice at Rock Shots or to fetish nights like Tension at World Head Quarters, this city has always allowed different groups to mix. The fact that a 2000 cap venue like Digital can host a night that celebrates inclusivity and diversity, headlined by a queer British-Japanese woman and a trans DJ of colour speaks volumes and I feel is evidence of just how open minded the city is. 

I think the night has really worked because we’ve been true in our intentions and the people who have played and performed at the nights have genuinely believed in the concept too. Take for instance, our event headliner, the mega talented Maya Jane Coles. I don’t think the night would be where it is already without Maya’s unshakeable desire to help push diversity and inclusion and with her supporting our dream, it’s meant that a lot of promoters have taken the plunge. Maya stepped up first and she really didn’t need to, she just believed in the concept. I find that honestly quite beautiful as she has turned down higher fees elsewhere to push her principles. Ellen Allien, Magda, Miss Kittin, Honey Dijon, KDA, George Fitzgerald, Heidi, Kim Ann Foxman to house legends like Marshall Jefferson and Satoshi Tomiie have all come to play for us too. We’ve also had more leftfield programming like Scratcha DVA, Mickey Pearce and we’ve been able to platform a lot of newer artists like Zyon, The Menendez Brothers, Anx and our residents Wax Wings and Maze & Masters. 

We throw a fucking good party to be fair and it’s fun for a lot of artists to play to crowds that are more balanced on gender, as let’s face it, a lot of techno and house clubs are proper sausage fests. In many straight clubs, it’s white men on the decks and female dancers and in gay clubs its white men on the decks and male dancers. Women and people of colour don’t often get to feel represented. That’s why we select our hosts and DJs in a talented focus way rather than a box ticking exercise. We try to platform talent from across the spectrums of gender, race, sexuality, ability etc. Our dancers have different body shapes with the only constant being that they can dance well. It’s really important for us to push representation. If you see people that are like you as hosts, DJs, performers etc, you’re going to feel that the club/space is somewhere for you. If you don’t then it’s easier to feel excluded. 

This is a brave space not just a safe one. You can wear PVC, latex and leather boots, you can wear a dress for the first time and 6 inch heels, or you can also just wear black jeans and a t-shirt. We want all types of people to meet and break down barriers on the dancefloor by having a great time to great music, which was the original point of these clubs. Not about taking selfies or worrying if your hair looks perfect. It was about dancing. Feeling it was okay to sweat and be silly. To meet new friends in the smoking area or just share a collective moment with someone random or your best mate when the right track drops. So if you love good music and think what is in someone’s heart is way more important than their age, race, sex, gender, ability, religion, background or whatever their sexual preference may be, then come to He.She.They. It’s a really simple ethos; just have a good time whilst being cool with other people. If that doesn’t sound like you, then you probably won’t be missed.  

He.She.They are at Digital, Newcastle on Saturday 2nd March.

 

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