Sunday, June 27, 2010

Queer dance party gets a bit rowdy -- Seattle, WA

To make Pride weekend in Seattle a little more exciting, a dance party consisting of about 250 people took to the streets and threw road blockades in the way of police, attacked a Bank of America, slashed some tires, and evaded arrest. Here is one first-hand account:

"This is a personal account of my experience at the Queers Fucking Queers dance party that took place the morning of June 27th, at 12:00am. This is being stated only with the intention of making clear the use of the term ‘I’ throughout the article rather than the collective ‘we’ and is not meant to distance the article from other members of the Arctic Circle Collective.

'So, umm, do you guys know about some queer dance party?' was overheard while I stood with friends at Madison & Union. 50 or so people crowded the sidewalk here outside The Pony bar on Capitol Hill, a neighborhood of Seattle that was host to a great number of corporate-sponsored Pride events, all of them taking place in bars and clubs and, therefore, exclusionary towards queer youth and those who choose not to drink. This was the meet-up spot for the Queers Fucking Queers dance party, for which flyers had been seen posted up around Capitol Hill over the past couple of days.

'Where is the music?' I asked one of my comrades at 12:02am, two minutes after the dance party was supposed to have begun. No sooner had I asked than I began to hear a heavy bass beat coming from beyond the other side of the crowd. I stood on my toes to see over the tops of heads and saw 15 or so people in beautiful, sparkling masks appear from around the corner, pulling a stereo system rigged to a bike trailer. Upon turning toward the music and the small group in masks, the crowd on the sidewalk began to cheer and clap and within just a few moments close to 100 bodies spilled onto Madison, including my own, and we all began to dance like we just don’t give a fuck.

It was in this moment that we collectively shattered the illusion of the commodity, in which our feelings and emotions surrounding our everyday lives are inevitably devoured by the spectacle, digested and broken down and separated from any true worth, and eventually shit out as things ready to be sold back to us. Those that stand to profit by maintaining the spectacle would have us believe that queer pride exists within rainbow flags, or within queer bars and clubs, all available for purchase at the right price.

In this moment, however, and the following hour, we were able to prove to ourselves, our lovers, and our friends that queer pride, much like courage, is a constant that freely exists within each of us, available at any moment to be seized by anyone who wishes to do so. And seize it we did.

After about 10 minutes of dancing the cops inevitably appeared behind the crowd. Although I had earlier this day received a text message saying 'dance till the cops show up,' it was apparent that no one was willing to give up the streets so easily. Rather, we danced harder. The flashing lights of the cop cars seemed to strobe in time with the thumping bass, which in turn seemed to be in sync with our fiercely beating hearts.

Queers of all ages and identities that refused to find space for themselves in corporate pride liberated this space without any organizers or leaders, in which, for an hour or so, we were able to allow our bodies to move and act freely, with intention, and autonomously, with collective strength. The despair and alienation we feel every single fucking day under a capitalist, hetero-normative system manifested itself in queer youth dancing on top of Mercedes’ and BMW’s they knew they would never be able to afford while others slashed the tires, and a Bank of America window was splintered into a thousand little shards. As if to say to the pigs watching from their inside their cars: we’re not gay as in happy, we’re queer as in fuck you.

The cops attempted to force people to the sidewalk with their cars but we simply walked around them and kept to the streets. A few cops got out of their cars and watched us dance past. Perhaps amazed that no one seemed afraid of them, that no one gave a fuck that they were there. Or perhaps slowly coming to realize how fucking boring and meaningless their jobs and lives are, standing on the edge between becoming a sane human being again and joining us, or getting back in their cars and continuing their lives as regulated by the spectacle. Eventually they chose their cars.

At one point I was dancing near the front of the crowd and noticed that I no longer saw the flashing red and white lights of the cop cars. I moved to the sidewalk and stood on my toes to see over the crowd. The cops were gone! The Seattle police had given up on trying to corral us!

We passed beer gardens in which people watched us from behind chain link fences, and clubs that had long lines of people standing outside, waiting for their turn to pay whatever exorbitant cover charge in order that they, too, be allowed to enter the beer gardens, which seemed to look a lot like cages. Always urging those we saw on the sidewalks to give up their roles as spectators and to become participants in this fleeting moment of autonomy, our numbers swelled to close to 300.

I was witness to two young people that had walked with me to the meet-up spot dancing in each others arms, perhaps feeling empowered for the first time ever in a space that was free from the laws and power of the state, a space in which they really were taking back their lives. At one point I overheard two female-bodied people that had joined us from the sidewalk shout to each other, 'We should be doing this every night. This is fucking queer pride!'

Indeed, we should be doing this every night. We should be making it clear every day to those in power that we’re queer, we’re here, and yes, if you want to fuck with us we will fuck you up. We refuse to fit inside of gender norms, corporate-sponsored events and hetero and cissexist culture. We now know what it feels like to seize control of our lives back from the state, and to seize the streets back from the cops. We know what it feels like and now we won’t ever stop. We can’t ever stop. It feels way too fucking good."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Local anarchist coverage in more detail: