Club night Queers in Crisis provides a window onto the flourishing, yet fragile avant-garde art scenes of the two most economically stricken European nations: Greece and Portugal.
Performer and academic Brian Lobel is organising a symposium — in the true sense of the word — on the survival of the avant-garde gay club in the age of austerity. Libation not Libor, then, discotheque not technocrat, c**ts not cuts…or something like that.
To this end, Lobel has invited two of the most innovative exports of the Eurozone’s nightlife scene to make an exhibition of themselves at east London’s Vogue Fabrics, a venue that claims to incite "social revolution through partying". Triple A-rated, cult clubs — Athens’ Naff Athina and Lisbon’s Add Wood – will defy the downgraded status of their homelands at an after-dark expo for the extrovert.
Tapping into the current discourse of queer activists and theorists such as Judith Halberstam (The Queer Art of Failure, 2011), this provocative cultural exchange can be read as part of the LGBT lobby’s bid to challenge the Neoliberal, Capitalist orthodoxy. It’s a queue jump invitation to a party that wants to blow away the bail-out blues and re-imagine the economy while it’s at it — like the most raucous tent in an Occupy camp.
Lobel says of the clubs: "They are not overtly political but their (their clubbers’) lives are. They are independent groups with no sponsorship, no safety net, no sense of belonging to mainstream culture. Whilst these things flourish in a time of crisis as people are searching for alternatives, they are also vulnerable."
The coalition of clubs will be putting its money where its mouth is and ploughing all profits back into the support of the "amazing club owners, bartenders, artists, filmmakers, escorts, performers, alcoholics, club kids, porn stars, runaways, faggots, dykes, people down on their luck".
It’s also about having a damn good time. QIC sits firmly in the rich counter-cultural tradition of hedonism as subversion, from the Bacchae to Pussy Riot, reminiscent of the party-going ethos of mavericks like the late Derek Jarman, Malcolm McLaren and Leigh Bowery. To take the lead from the 1979 essay In Defence of Disco by Richard Dyer, "disco can't change the world or make the revolution. But partly by opening up experience, partly by changing definitions, art and disco can be used…if it feels good, use it".
Whether or not Queers in Crisis will succeed where Davos and co. have failed, it promises a double-dip whammy of defiance and gleeful nonconformity. More fun than the IMF, any day.
Queers in Crisis is on Friday 28 and Saturday 29 September at Vogue Fabrics, 66 Stoke Newington Road, Dalston. £5 all night. Doors at 10pm.
By Kirsty McQuire