December 1, 2023

Hackney Wick, Saturday October 9th, 2021

Hackney Wick, Saturday October 9th, 2021

Hackney Wick is bustling tonight. Although not unusual, this evening is particularly special. Immediately stepping out of the Overground station, I’ve pretty much entered a space that has been designated for stunting. The roads around have become catwalks for the girls, linking together the various venues in the neighbourhood that have opted into the Body Movements event programme.

After spending forty-five minutes on a cramped train from Shepherds Bush to east London and enduring all the dude-bros singing about a garden shed until they get off at Hackney Central, I’m grateful for this (albeit temporary) haven of queerness. I feel visible, and unlike the usual associations of this visibility, I don’t feel unsafe.

Turning the corner onto White Post Lane, I see a couple of friends standing by a block of flats (that used to be a prime squat party location in my early teens), and after exchanging pleasantries we’ve joined them on route to the next function. 

It’s just past 11pm and we pull up outside the Colour Factory in the Queen’s Yard complex. The queue to enter the venue is already stretching down onto the main street, its contents bursting with a fine constellation of leather, denim, and fur that we gingerly meander past to get inside. Although it hasn’t even hit midnight, the HERRENSAUNA Afters is in full swing. Jasmine Infiniti’s set is pumping through the club speakers as people grind, two-step and sway to the music. Above the bar, I see a little LED panel shaking as the numbers flit up and down in synchronicity with the BPM of the track being played. A droplet of sweat falls from the ceiling onto my head. I look at the stage behind Jasmine and it is packed. 

The girls are OUT tonight!

As a native of London, it gladdens me to see places like the Colour Factory doing well for itself. Having taken over from the previous owners of Mick’s Garage, the Black-owned venue has already hosted some of London’s staple queer parties like Queer Bruk, INFERNO, Pxssy Palace, among others.

In a city that perpetually flirts with borrowed time-and-space due to the smothering gentrification propelled by a government that cares very little about young (queer) creatives, having a moment of respite in places like this can go a long way. Because honestly, what is the alternative? Joining the drunken chants on the Overground with Harry and James as they head to Oslo in Hackney Central…? I’m good thanks.

Anyway, back to this moment, and after Jasmine’s set we’re on to MCMLXXXV and CEM – the two founders of the Berlin-based HERRENSAUNA collective. Both DJs’ high energy sets are known internationally, and its clearly reverberating with the London crowd around me. I’m impressed that a lot of them are still standing, having been out since 1/2pm – an active testament to the sets that are being played, as London is generally not known for its stamina. 

Speaking to CEM, the intention behind HERRENSAUNA is: “many of us consider raves as tools to express ourselves freely. It’s where we find solidarity and acceptance, and while one can’t expect that from any rave out there, we want to work on making this a standard as far as we are involved, at least.” As a city with an embedded yet everchanging musical culture and architecture, HERRENSAUNA always receives a warm welcome when stepping into London. It’s reputation clearly precedes it, and high-energy events that leave clubs like the Colour Factory packed out after a full day of partying are a perfect example of this. We love to see it…

Text author: Erkan Affan

Our words in writing here.