Meet the dynamic duo behind the award winning performance platform that aims to “decolonise and moisturise”
BY NIC CROSARA
The Cocoa Butter Club (TCBC) is an award winning Black LGBTQIA+ founded performance platform where the melanated are celebrated. Founded in 2016 as a creative clap back to the cultural appropriation and lack of representation within the industry, TCBC serves up much-needed QTIBPOC visibility all year round. This is one of the many reasons I’m excited to hear from the dynamic duo behind TCBC, founder and creative director Sadie Sinner and producer Cassie Leon, in time for Lesbian Visiblity Week.
DIVA: What does visibility mean to you?
Sadie: Seeing versions of my identity occupying every space possible – with no limitations! Also, when people are platformed and promoted in a way intended to be a beacon.
Cassie: Visibility means being able to walk freely without fear, being able to present freely, being able to speak freely without looking over your shoulder. Visibility means being able to be open and proud of who you are, never having to dim your truth.
How can we nurture a world where people can feel safer to be visible?
S: We would need a world that didn’t thrive on shame. A world where people weren’t welcome to cause others harm, or in fact, never would because we would have never learnt to fear our differences. We would need a world that was founded by brave people, not the cowards who colonised the globe and feared everything different from themselves in the process.
C: The more people talk about queerness in the world, the more people celebrate each other, the more we educate one another the less isolated people may feel. The more we talk and empower those who are marginalised the stronger we become as a community. We need to be talking openly and honestly about our experiences and how we move through the world. Its so important to normalise queerness for young people and continue to educate.
How do you think people can be better allies to Black lesbians?
S: Stop othering us. Respect that the intersectionality of our race and sexuality is nuanced and developing in real time.
C: By really listening to the needs of the community and acting on offered insights and information instead of making decisions on people’s behalf. By really giving space and understanding that power in the Black community and that doesn’t always need to include everyone. By empowering people to create safer spaces where people can talk freely, socialise and build trust with one another. By checking biases and taking time to think about your preconception.
How will you be celebrating lesbian visibility week?
S: [Laughs] by being a Black lesbian who founded a space to celebrate Blackness and queerness and is sharing the wisdom, teaching about it at a university!
How does Cocoa Butter Club celebrate lesbian visibility?
C: This year The Cocoa Butter Club will be hosting a night at Dalston Superstore. We have an amazing line up with lesbian, queer and non binary DJs and dancers who will be spinning the tracks to celebrte each other. This space is really important to The Cocoa Butter Club as we highlight Black and POC artists in all their glory. It also really invites Black and POC audiences and party people to dance together.
S: I heard Superstore is the perfect place for meeting your next, and last, ex [winks].
What has been the response from your recent Take The Title Trailblazer competition?
C: The competition has gone very very well. Brand new artists are stepping out into the cabaret circuit and have had a great response. They have been welcomed with open arms into our community. The competition has really given them a space to experiment and play with their art form and test things out that they may never have done before.
The audiences have also loved seeing the new artists making their way into The Cocoa Butter Club and are already asking where they can see the new artists again.
S: It’s been so reinvigorating! Meeting new talent was so inspiring and I’m so grateful, my creative cup feels so full. We have discovered some excellent new talent, and I can’t wait for YOU to see them at the semi-final on 8th June.
What gives you hope when thinking of the lesbians of the future?
S: I like to think of a future where the concept of womanhood is inclusive and honours the full spectrum of our experiences. I feel hope when I think about podcasts like Two Twos, and mothers like Ro and artists like Emmavie, or soon-to-be-wives, Lexie and Aisha aka @thequeernomads; how they all live the beauty of a lesbian experience and work to share a telling of that experience with the world.
C: Lesbians of the future really have amazing people to look up to, there are so many amazing role models working through sport, entertainment, politics and so much more. Communities have really taken things into their own hands and created spaces for lesbians which are really providing people with what they are asking for, parties, theatre shows, community groups, book and literature groups.
Do you have any projects in the works you can tell DIVA readers about?
S: YES – Remember I mentioned the creative classes for QTIPOC, well, lesson is almost in session! Keep your eyes on our feed, because The Cocoa Butter Club Summer School ’22 includes Burlesque, Hoop, Heels, Skating, Hosting, Strip-hop, Bollywood and MORE!
C: We will be at lots of the big festivals this year, Wilderness Festival, Latitude Festival and Mighty Hoopla Festival . We will also be at lots of Pride festivals this year, so keep an eye out.
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