Working on the door at queer femme events across the capital, this week the Nite Dykez bring musical excellence to Dalston Superstore

WORDS AND IMAGE BY CLARE HAND

Back in the day, in the awkward period between portable CD players (too lame) and iPods (too expensive), I’d stand next to the TV and patiently make voice memos of my favourite songs on my brick phone. I’d then sit on the bus on the way to school, listening to the slightly muffled recordings on repeat, delighted to have tunes in my ears.

Turns out, the superlative new monthly queer gyal party, Nite Dykez, have managed to fling me back to my youth, leaving me sauntering around town listening to voice memos of mixes from their last party.

It was the fourth Thursday night takeover of Dalston Superstore by the Nite Dykez aka GIN and Mica Coca. Alongside guest DJs Ije Hadid and TrYb, they played some of the most refreshing, rejuvenating and original sets I’ve heard in a long while. Let’s take TrYb’s seamless sowing together of Beibe Beibe Do Biruleibe Leibe, MC Neguinho’s Brazilian Afrobeat banger and Crystal Waters’ 90s house classic Gypsy Woman (She’s Homeless). This mix was one of many combos that left me walking around like that little head-blown emoji all night. And one of many voice memos I’ve Whatsapp’ed to my mates next to the words: “Listen to the gold coming out of the lesbian scene.”

Gin and Mica met four years ago while DJing at Resis’dance, a female and non-binary collective that throw epic fundraiser parties in east London. They are familiar faces on the scene – if they’re not hyping each other up behind the decks, they’re getting sweaty on the dancefloor. The more time they spent immersed in quality music, the more they craved experiencing it in the queer women’s scene.  

“Me and Mica both really expected more from the [lesbian] scene. We also expected more from the delivery of the music in clubs. Both of us really care about that and we really bonded over it. That’s why we wanted to create a night that focused more on the music, especially house music. A lot of thought goes into who we’re booking and what sort of vibe we want to create. We wanted to make the night we wanted to party in.”

IMAGE BY LINDSAY ALLEN-HYND

Having little splatterings of conversation with Mica and Gin on the night didn’t quite cut it. They who were both too busy loving life and attentively listening to mixes, so we met in Dalston’s EartH – the epic music venue that Gin manages – a week after their party. The pair tend to speak with as much symmetry as they play with: riffing off each other, finishing sentences, cracking up at the other’s jokes.

They spoke extensively of the importance of POC-priority spaces. Gin confirmed that Nite Dykez “isn’t an exclusively POC-centred night, but we definitely prioritise the lives and experiences of people of colour in the space. It is also important for us to prioritise women, trans and non-binary folx as well,” she said in her characteristically dulcet tones.

Meanwhile, Mica spoke of the importance of making nights for people who identify as she does. “There are a lot of nights for femme women at the moment, I wanted this night to be a little bit more for lesbians who identify as tomboys or more masc,” she said. “Yeah, we also recognise that identifying as a dyke does not necessarily mean being a cis womxn who loves other cis womxn,” adds Gin.

They went on to discuss safer space policies, queer venues and capitalism, Soho and East London lesbian nights, the importance of a good sound-system and having adequate space to dance. I asked them what they want to see at their night. “I would like to create an explorative, playful space with people leaving thinking that it is possible to party, not just attend an event,” said Gin. “Yeah,” concurred Mica, “and I want everyone to hook-up with each other, I want love to blossom. Let dyke love blossom.”

In other words, they know their shit, they know their direction and they uphold the three pillars of a banging party: quality music, safe spaces and room to dance. It is no surprise then that Nite Dykez is gearing up to be an absolute scorcher.

IMAGE BY LINDSAY ALLEN-HYND

At their last party, things climaxed in Superstore’s basement; upstairs was more chilled disco, funk, chatting vibes. “I prefer it in the basement,” said Mica, “the sound-system is better, we can go louder, experiment more with the music.” Yes, lesbians do occasionally choose to be in the basement.

The music was sublime, people were resultantly throwing serious shapes, grinding, voguing – all the while respecting, encouraging and making space for one another. Gin lit incense throughout the night, which infused with the pumping smoke machine and added to the all-consuming good vibes of the room. The atmosphere was liberating, kind and smooth, at times it felt like we were all being swaddled in a red satin sheet.

So help me I tried to stay on the door but when you know this rhythmic-paradise is unleashing underground it feels like an ascetic act to stay outside.  I soldiered on and as I did, I had a really uplifting interaction with a group of 10 white gay guys at the door.

“We’re here from LA to party,” one announced, while flinging his right arm in the air as they approached. I told that that they were welcome to come inside, but that this evening is prioritising queer women. “You can come in and mainly hang out upstairs but the downstairs is for dykes tonight.”

IMAGE BY LINDSAY ALLEN-HYND

Immediately they retracted, stating that they wouldn’t want to intrude on a night not meant for them. One from the back shouted, “Yah and we came to London for the boiz.” I directed them to Karaoke Hole, advised them to grab a drink there before heading off to Soho.

Soon after, I gave the same spiel to a couple of gay guys on a date. They decided to come in and stay upstairs. “We’ve come all the way from the city,” one said. “We just want a couple of quiet pints upstairs.” I said it was no problem, but as they left a couple of hours later, they asked me a question that had evidently been looming like a dark cloud over date night. “Did you discriminate against us because we work in the city?” they asked. I told them that of course that wasn’t the case and that I was just letting them know who Superstore is curated for this evening.

I have given this response to multiple (tipsy) men in suits while working on the door at Superstore. Each has taken an affront to the idea of a queer women priority space: never quite understanding the importance of it or rationale behind it. They’ve instead looked for an alternative explanation: turning instantly to narratives of discrimination or victimisation. I am glad they articulated it though, so we could hash it out a little and reduce the tension.

As they walked away however, one declared that he might still write a Guardian opinion piece on discrimination in the east London scene. Some battles you never win. Some battles are not worth fighting, and no battle is worth fighting when there are game-changing space-creators like Mica and Gin DJing downstairs. I went back inside to enjoy the harmony of the den of dykez.

As the night drew to a close and the basement started to empty out, there was a single couple left on the dancefloor. They’d been dancing cutely – lots of salsa twirls – for most of the evening but once space permitted, they started rolling around on the floor in a full-on lover’s embrace. They looked like they were frolicking in a meadow on a summer’s day. Let dyke love blossom indeed.

Nite Dykez runs monthly at Dalston Superstore, next party Thursday 2 May, 9pm – 2:30am, Insta: @nitedykez

@ClareDHand

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