Underground Raving In 1980s Sheffield
In the 1980s I was a regular at a Sheffield party called Jive Turkey, where resident DJs Parrott and Winston played a mix of funk, rare groove and early house. For a dual heritage girl from Rotherham who never fit in, it was mind-blowing. Suddenly, I belonged somewhere with people who loved the same thing I did. What thrilled me most, and still moves me now, was being a part of an underground party where you could let loose, smile at a stranger across a dance floor who was feeling it like you were (and this was just before the arrival of E, when we were fuelled by lager, speed and Silk Cuts) before the beat dropped and the whole room went nuts.
It still gives me a rush thinking about those moments. The dance floor was wherever you could find room, and my spot was by the fire doors which were thrown open as more and more people were rammed into a tiny space, sweat literally dripping down the walls—all highly illegal. I vividly remember Winston mixing his own "Track With No Name" into Parrott's "Testone" for the very first time. Local boys playing our music. We went absolutely wild, shouting and jumping up onto the banquette seating, thumping the ceiling until the room shook. I don't know if music changes lives, but my life was utterly changed by those nights. I ended up marrying one of the promoters, and our son Evan is a producer/DJ who releases as 96 Back. And more than anything, I learned the power of community and belonging, and that a beat can bring people together like nothing else. Auriel, Sheffield
Radiant Dysphoria At Berghain
I've always felt more comfortable in my mind than my body, but it took me a long time to recognize my bodily discomfort as dysphoria, not just dysmorphia. I've always been most comfortable in the grey areas, the fluid spaces. I'm not transitioning, I'm happiest suspended in the state of transition. This feeling almost always hit me on the dance floor.
Every time it struck me, I asked, do I deserve to take up space in this narrative when others probably feel this particular pain more deeply? The first time I admitted it to anyone but myself was after DJ Nobu shattered the layers in a beam of light in October 2017 at Berghain. The sound pierced me with such raw intensity that I sometimes forgot how to move. The texts I sent to a couple friends from the bar as I caught my breath, expressing that Nobu had turned my gender into a "sunbeam," probably seemed like a joke, but they meant something deeper.
The dance floors of Gays Hate Techno in Northern California and No Way Back in Detroit in May 2018 cemented the feeling. Through intense movement and connection, something like a disembodied beam of light always found its way back to my corporeal form. And with form, I also found words for that feeling I had, and for my gender identity. Shortly after these events, I came out as nonbinary. Alyce, Brooklyn