Currently, I’m in West Warwick, Rhode Island and just went for a bike ride and a guy hurled abuse at me because apparently “my ass was hanging out”—which, as a side-note, is how I like my ass to be. As you may or may not know, being a woman-identified person, your mobility (one’s ability to literally move around) is not actually in our hands and as result, can cause a feeling of disempowerment—and it’s no different in the club or whatever “safe space” you think you’re entering.
After the events of the shooting in Orlando at Pulse, safety in clubs and, specifically, spaces for marginalized folks has been a continued conversation. Catherine Hilgers, who led our Discwoman Montreal event last year, created a zine entitled "Rave Ethics," which is a guide on how to behave in the club in regards to women’s safety, drug use, and wellness. Hilgers explained to me her reasons behind making it: “The desire to take control of the rave or club environment and change it for the better; because we’re never handed control, we have to take it and also take responsibility for our actions. I want to permeate the rave with the incitation, 'Take responsibility for the energy you bring into the space' (lifted from Oprah).”
The zine includes contributions from friends who have felt a similar need to take control of these spaces. "It's important that the contributors are almost all women, and that the zine became a platform where they could express themselves and make demands in a scene which often disowns them and denies their agency,” says Hilgers.
One of my favorite parts is the message to party promoters, who as well as their guests, have a great responsibility to be aware of harassment in the club and this segment talks from a first person perspective of someone who is feeling oppressed by the space (“I can’t close my eyes while I’m dancing” and “I quit parties way before I wanted to"). I also love the segment "How to Hit on a Girl," which makes me reflect on a time a guy said to me, “I’ve never kissed a black girl before”—I wish I could’ve handed him this zine.
One of the other striking subjects of the zine is drug use and doing it right, if it all. It's important to be ok with the drugs you take and it's ok if you want to rave completely sober. Talking about drugs in relation to raving is still kind of a taboo, which is kind of ridiculous as everyone knows the reality. “Knowledge of drugs and their interactions along with drug testing in club and festival settings can and does save lives,” says Hilgers.
So how do we get this life-saving material into people’s hands? Hilgers says: “Print the zine and hand it to men at the club with a pointed stare, share it online, or leave it under your techno boyfriend's pillow.” Also, it must be mentioned that this is not the first time a text like this has been in circulation, check out Club Etiquette and Siren Zine.
You can download the zine, or view it in the gallery below by clicking the first image.