Working on the door at queer female events across the capital, this week, Dalston Superstore’s monthly lesbian night, Female Trouble
WORDS BY CLARE HAND, IMAGES BY WAFAH DUFOUR
At midnight the music stopped. Celeste Guinness – the woman behind Female Trouble – grabbed the mic and beckoned Dalston Superstore’s tipsy congregation to the DJ decks. “Tonight, we’re gonna sort some shit out,” she said to a combination of applause and yass’ing from the more cerebral, general whooping and howling from the too-drunk-to-know-wtf-going-on.
Within minutes she had the whole bar chanting, “Doctor Christine Blasey Ford we believe you,” on repeat to a metronome beat. Soon followed ubiquitous chants of “Fuck Brexit” and melodious affirmations that “Trans rights are human rights.” As arms launched in the air, drinks sloshed from their glasses and people clambered on top of Superstore’s bar-cum-stage, I concluded that queer women like it when their parties get political.
Then in a miraculous turn of events, a pair of women who had been feverishly making-out – the kind of making-out that, for everyone’s sake, should have been transferred to a private place many thrusts ago – prized themselves from the wall they’d become a fixture of, so they could join the collective incantations. Queer women really like it when their parties get political, I concluded as I strolled past them post-chant, now thrusting more adamantly than ever, invigorated by all the camaraderie.
“Female Trouble is a night that marries political activism with dyke culture, and has drag as its very fabulous side-bitch,” says Celeste whose hosted nine parties since their launch in February. There have been events dedicated to lesbian activist Jeanne Córdova (in which pamphlets on lesbian history were handed out), a lesbian fantasy night called Dykquarius (for which somebody created a full-body lobster suit) and Big Dyke Energy (where people spent the evening painting the word DYKE on Celeste’s body).
The night’s primary objective is to encourage experimentation; calling for people to dabble in drag kinging and queening, to play around with their gender identity and to create high-fashun lewks, which, Celeste assured me, can consist of a series of bin bags, “if the duct tape execution is on point.”
Celeste wants Female Trouble to be a place where “the ladies of Dalston Superstore – and of course our trans brothers, sisters and non-binary siblings – feel they can wear and do what the fuck they want without feeling like people are sizing them up or judging them in any way.” At which point I would like to add that my commentary on the thrusters is rooted squarely in thrusting-jealousy not thrusting-judgement. Long live the bar thrusters, long live the defiant ain’t-getting-a-roomers, and long live the places like Superstore where queer women can be without fear of a lingering male gaze.
Speaking of which, I had a very easy life on the door that night, armed only with Celeste’s door policy: “If you’re not a dick you can come in.” Unlike my night at She Soho where I spent the entire evening crushing the (wet) dreams of blokes hoping to cross the final frontier into Lesbian Bardom, dickiness steered clear of Superstore for most of the night.
That is, until around 1am when I was blindsided by the appearance of three suited mega-dicks hopping out of an Uber. When they approached, we stated that this was a lesbian night and asked if they identified as LGBTQ. Though no glint appeared in their eyes at the mention of the word lesbian, they didn’t answer the question and took an immediate affront to the concept of a night that prioritises those who identify as female.
While one stated that it seemed counter-productive to have a queer space and then to privilege a gender: “This goes against everything the LGBT movement stands for,” a point that could have led to fruitful conversation were it not accompanied by his friend’s sarcastic omission, “Don’t forget the I, P, J and Z mate.”
“Tonight, this venue is prioritising queer females and our allies. And I can’t say that you guys are either of these things,” I told the trio’s spokesman, gesturing towards his sarky mate who was telling the security guard that he was a lesbian who spent “all night rubbing my mate Dave’s wet pussy.” They eventually called an Uber to take them back to the manky man-cave from whence they came.
Meanwhile, Superstore stood like a temple, filled with queer female trouble-makers and their buddies. As the night ended and people trickled out onto the street, everyone seemed to be completely rejuvenated by the evening’s frivolities. Though lewks were now in varying degrees of tact – sweatiness leading paint to splodge and tape to unfurl – the night was still young. The thusters left arm in arm, two couples left with a third, groups gathered to after-party together, others vanished onto the night bus alone. Long live Female Trouble; may it continue to prioritise, celebrate and experiment with our conceptions of the queer feminine.
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