Last summer, growing increasingly frustrated with Edmonton’s bar scene, graphic designer Karen Campos started talking with venues and creative queers about creating parties at non-queer venues.
In part, her craving to create a different kind of space was a feeling that Edmonton’s queer scene did not reflect her needs as someone who felt rejected from her own latin community for being queer. “I’m hoping to create an aesthetic that represents my tastes as a first generation immigrant who has an affinity for R&B, hip-hop,” she says. “I want rhythm and beats.”
Along came Danielle Sinnette, involved with Edmonton’s Anarchist Bookfair, who was looking for a closing night party for the fair. Sinnette had heard about what Campos was trying to do. For a venue, Sinnette suggested that she speak with her friend Jay Moore who had just opened up his own artist-run venue, an unused storefront, a few doors down from Edmonton’s Pride Centre.
The Bookfair’s closing party was a success. It was a mix of anarchist readers, queer dancers and local music lovers all jamming together in a reclaimed space.
From there, Dance Dance Queer Revolution — a name Campos gave the enterprise — was born. The name is a play on the video game Dance Dance Revolution but also a nod to the anarchist influence of the first event.
Careful not to sound overly unhappy with the state of affairs in Edmonton, Campos points out that Dance Dance Queer Revolution “is not a critique of what exists out there in terms of gay bars, rather [it] is meant to contribute to the dialogue in our community.”
Hard-pressed to categorize what kind of crowd attends Dance Dance Queer Revolution events, Campos points out that among people she knows Circles is known as “the lesbian hotspot of Edmonton.” She adds that with every event, the crowd grows and changes.
Last year Dance Dance Queer Revolution hosted a Winter Formal at Circles. Campos is working again with Moore and Sinnette as well as Edmonton-based gender bending performer Antonio Bavaro for a Circles fundraiser called Once More With Feeling, a karaoke night. The night derives its name from a musical episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
The event was originally scheduled for Fri, Mar 6, but Campos and company changed it to Sat, Mar 7, after Edmonton favourites, The Wet Secrets set Mar 6 as their CD single release dance party nearby at The Artery.
As with all Dance Dance Queer Revolution events at Circles, part of the proceeds of Once More With Feeling will go to Circles to help keep the venue going.
Unsure if karaoke will engage the minds and hearts of Edmonton’s queer community, Campos says it’s at least worth a try. “I want to keep experimenting with the space as a queer space and karaoke seems to be an activity that people can get really excited about.”
If it doesn’t work, Campos promises Dance Dance Queer Revolution will continue. “There’s room to experiment, evolve and really nurture the coming together and talent in Edmonton.”