Queer people of colour are taking over alt music
Alternative music, such as punk, rock, emo, indie, or any genre that traditionally falls outside the mainstream, has historically been associated with white musicians. These musicians have communicated their sorrows and woes accompanied by heavy bass and powerful guitar riffs. With lyrics often centered around social issues like capitalism and drug use, it is no surprise that marginalized folks embodied these words firsthand and found themselves attracted to the scene.
Over the years, more and more people have challenged whiteness and racism in the alternative music scene. They have started taking up space, reclaiming the genre’s Black origins.
Decolonise Fest is a London DIY punk festival by and for punks of color. It has been running since 2017, bringing in local and international bands at their yearly event alongside a dynamic program of talks and workshops.
2022 also saw the MOBO Awards, which honored achievements by Black British musicians via the ‘Best Alternative Music Act’ category — notably won by the independent London duo Bob Vylan.
This reclamation of alternative music has now taken over nightlife, with more and more club nights prioritizing queer people of color and offering them a space to scream and mosh to their favorite nostalgic songs.
North Londoner Russie is the founder of emo pop punk night, NOT OK. When asked by GUAP what prompted them to start the night, they replied, ‘I wanted to create a welcoming space for others like myself to come and feel alive.’ Born and bred in Camden, alt music shaped their youth as they tell us of their rebellious teenage years hanging out on Camden Lock, where their group of friends would ‘put each other onto new music, play guitar and skate.’ Despite these joyful everyday moments, they also shared their struggles as a queer Black person.
Russie: I stood out like a sore thumb. These spaces were not the most welcoming. It can be very isolating.
Having run for over a year, the party is already building a legacy encouraging other creatives to follow a path. Model Sheerah Ravindren is the brains behind Hot Trash, an indie electronic night centering queer Black and brown audiences hosting their first party in February.
Sheerah: I just wanted a safe space where I could exist, be weird and stupid, listen to music I like, and party with like-minded people without being judged.
A similar feeling is shared by 29-year-old Sante Moonie, who founded the new indie night Sleaze Dreams. Frustrated with how white the parties they were attending were and how much the indie scene ‘glamorized drugs and eating disorders’, they wanted to launch a night that celebrated ‘what people of color brought to the movement and created a safe space to revisit the indie era.’ With their first event coming up, they’re already overwhelmed by the reception they’re receiving.
Sante: Coming out of the lockdowns, people have had time to reflect, and there is a genuine drive to build community in different ways. I’m glad I get to provide a small part for our qtbipoc family in that.
If you have been looking for an alternative space that prioritizes queer people of color, make sure to attend their events:
Hot Trash at Cafe Koko on the 3rd of February
NOT OK Karaoke at The Karaoke Hole on the 3rd of March
Sleaze Dreams at VFD on the 24th of March
Discover more from GUAP’s Art & Culture section here