Working on the door at queer female events across the capital, this week new kid on the block, LEZ Events bring glam and garage to Soho
WORDS BY CLARE HAND, IMAGES BY NINA PENNICK
It’s nearly midnight, I’ve left my position on the door and I’m stood in the middle of London Fields Brewery. The baseline from Cardi B’s I Like It is thundering from the venue’s penetrating sound system. There are women daggering on stage, flirting in the toilet queue, chirpsing while they buy each other drinks, twerking in long centipede-like formations and getting off with each other there, there and over there too.
“Everyone in this building is going to get laid,” I thought. This could easily be the most debauched lesbian party I’ve ever been to.
So what’s with all the promiscuous energy? I later asked Mitra Wicks – who runs LEZ Events with Erida Huda and Christine Vaghela. Equally blown away by the palpable DTFery, Mitra reckons it’s the result of the freedom that comes from partying in a female priority space. “You feel like you can let go more, have fun without an unwanted male gaze,” she said.
Having only hosted two parties so far – the first at luxury West End institution Libertine by Chinawhite and the second an the brewery – LEZ are the latest Sapphic space creators to join the capital’s teeming ranks. And it’s safe to say that the new kid of the block is going in.
Artful Dodger played at their first party, alongside queer burlesque artist Trixie Kixx, a married pair of female acrobatic dancers, Deux Ailes and a host of MCs spitting about everything from heartbreak to the importance of drinking water on a night out.
At their second event they had five DJs, streetfood vendors and more performances from both established and up-and-coming artists and MCs – one of whom (Rossco) kept adding, “hold tight wifey, hold tight wifey” into their mix, seemingly making her the only non-single person in the building.
LEZ came about for two primary reasons: garage and glam. As far as the former is concerned, they are driven by a desire to “keep the UK garage flame alive.” Having grown up listening to 90s icons like So Solid Crew and Mis-Teeq, Mitra regards garage as a timeless and “inclusive genre that brings people together, yet queer female parties just aren’t playing enough of it,” she says.
Her sentiments on the genre’s inclusivity were affirmed by the fact that I spent the evening chatting with one woman about growing up in Lagos, another about the queer scene in Oslo, another about raising kids, another about finishing her degree in physics. I watched people in sports bras dancing with others in lingerie, women in Louboutins flirting with those in Docs.
While garage may be the party’s raison d’être, the LEZ DJs were constantly genre-hopping and decade-jumping. Serious prowess behind the decks (from the likes of Sizzles, 2 Traxx, Krystal Lake, Ash) saw Biggie’s Hynotize, seamlessly merge into Gloria Estefan’s 1980’s banger Dr. Beat, which then slid into Craig David’s Fill Me In. There’s hip-hop, R&B and trap chucked in, alongside splashes of dancehall and disco too.
Musical endeavours aside, LEZ want to bring queer nights into glam’n’bougie spaces. “We want the bottle service, the plush sofas, the slick staff, the smooth-running, functioning venues,” says Mitra, “but we want it to be for queer women, trans women and non-binary people.”
Mitra, who called herself a feminist at various points during our conversation, is driven by a desire to eradicate the heteronormativity and misogyny that so often comes hand-in-hand with the capital’s more “prestigious” venues – think The Box, Cuckoo Club, Annabel’s, Tape.
“I used to go to all these clubs,” says Mitra, who came out as bisexual in her 30s, “where men ponce about with their bottles of Cristal and the women sit there like sheep waiting to be picked by some banker or footballer,” she says. “Women are expected to look a certain way, to perform in a certain way, to be sexy, for men. I loved that scene; the music, the spaces, the tables, but grew to hate that dynamic.”
Then one evening, Mirta, Erida Huda (who used to work as a brain injury rehab doctor) and Christine Vaghela (an ex-police officer and founder of the first all-female electrician company, ElecChicks) got together and wondered, “Why can’t it be just for women?”
And so, they made it their mission to reclaim venues that are “typically reserved for big spending men.” They’ve set their sights on transforming these clubs – and the late licences and lavish interiors they come with – into spaces designed for and run by queer women, on a fortnightly basis at the least.
Yes, yes I hear you, why am I at an ostensibly glam West End night, yet stood in a brewery in east London wondering if pale ale is a lesbian aphrodisiac?
That’s where LEZ comes in. “We want our events to be mobile and dynamic,” says Mitra, “let’s go here, lez go there.” They want to host events across the capital and eventually the continent. “We will stay flexible, but at the same time, our home and our vision is rooted in Soho’s clubbing scene; bringing the glamour without the misogyny.”
Note for the beady eyed: I acknowledge that this entry barely constitutes a door diary. The venue was ticketed and inconspicuous so there were few juicy insights on the door. Besides, I’d like to see you stand outside in the cold, while the most debauched lesbian party you’ve ever witnessed pops off inside. What’s a gal to do?
Check out LEZ Events on Insta at @LezEvents_.
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