“Go slow, don’t try and be the next big thing. Do what you love and it will shine through:” An interview with the HomoElectric team
Header credit: Jen Amelia Photography / Facebook.com
Manchester’s HomoElectric has given ‘homos, heteros, lesbos, don’t knows and disko asbos’ a place to dance for over twenty years. But where did the idea for the night come from? “after years of late-night drinking in the lesbian bar Follies” says Luke Unabomber, founder and resident of the esteemed club night.
Luke had already been playing and promoting in Manchester for a while. Electric Chair, his night co-run with DJ partner Justin Unabomber, was a place the city’s best DJs span eclectic tunes. HomoElectric, then, was to become a “gay version of Electric Chair. Holding up the flag for all things real and passionate”.
Taking place in Follies, the bar where he initially came up with the idea, Luke and Ryan Minchin collaborated on HomoElectric, a night “for homos, heteros, lesbos, don’t knows and disco asbos. A queer space that saw the most wonderful mix of people. From old-school lesbians, thespian artists from Hulme, trans, drag artists, bears, young queens, indie kids, acid house queens, and disillusioned straight blokes who loved music and the freedom of a non-judgemental gay space.”
That’s a brief history of HomoElectric, but what about the present? Well, they’ve made Manchester’s Hidden their home, taking their inclusive party to festivals in the U.K and Europe. The night has been a talent incubator, too. All of their residents make music in their own right, with successful releases and sets under their belt.
For this interview, we spoke to the Homoelectric team: Luke Unabomber, Amy Wainwright, Gina Breeze and Jamie Bull. Scroll down to read their answers on the history of Manchester’s queer scene, inclusivity, and building a well-loved club night.
Luke on… Manchester’s queer scene in the 1980s
My first ever proper gig in an actual nightclub was at Flesh at the Hacienda. Lucy Sher, who I met in the golden days of Hulme, was part of a collective that ran the lesbian greengrocers FOZ-DYKES. She was the co-promotor of Flesh nightclub and booked me in to warm up for [DJ] Paulette. It was such an exciting time – the gay scene in Manchester had its own acid house revolution and every element of the scene all came together. There was a real beauty to it and so much we’d do later at Homoelectric was inspired by Flesh. There was a very natural and intuitive inclusivity where everyone was made to feel part of this family.
Jamie on… Fostering an inclusive environment at a club night
It’s important to get a tone of voice established in your promotion. It’s not just ‘these DJs, this venue, this date’. Promote the notion that having an open-minded attitude will get you in. Weave a safe space policy into your messaging without being too ‘don’t do this, don’t do that’. Promote inclusivity, respect, and kindness. Be welcoming.
Gina & Jamie on… What venues can do to help inclusivity
Gina: I think it’s really important that all staff at the venues throwing parties are all briefed and on the same page. Especially for queer events, the door staff can play a big part in getting the inclusivity right & making the event a safe space for all. That goes for all others at the venue, zero tolerance for any form of harassment. We’re all in it together.
Jamie: Promoters should liaise with venue management and security teams to help implement a safe space policy. Everyone needs to buy into it. Normally the first person a customer encounters at a venue is security. It’s really important to make people feel comfortable and safe. We are trying to build a community of regulars. First impressions count. Get it right and they’ll come back.
Gina & Jamie on… How being HomoElectric residents has helped their careers
Gina: When I joined HomoElectric, I was pretty new to living in Manchester. I feel being part of the family introduced me to so many creative artists and musicians, colourful and wonderful souls that have shaped the person I am today. It has also given me a real opportunity to realise who I want to become as an artist. Having the basement at Hidden as the room I play in regularly has been the perfect stomping ground for me to experiment with the music I play. It’s also great to test out my own productions, which have often had their debuts at HomoElectric.
Jamie: For me, being a resident has allowed me to play all kinds of styles, from warm-up slots to closing sets. I’ve gotten to DJ before and after headliners which takes a certain skill! It’s allowed me to play out of my comfort zone, challenge myself and grow. Also, it’s allowed me to build a relationship with the amazing regulars, the ones who come each time. I get to test out new music to an ace crowd I’ve built up trust with.
Luke on… His advice to promoters who want to build a long-standing event
Firstly whatever anyone tells you, it’s not easy, this will be a journey of blood sweat and tears. There will be highs and lows with events that didn’t work out how you intended. But if your intention is because you love this thing then the joys make it all worth it. Go slow, don’t try and be the next big thing. Do what you love and it will shine through.
Amy on… How Skiddle have helped HomoElectric with the process of promoting
Skiddle have been really helpful to us. The manager of our account is always on immediate hand to help with any questions, guidance and help with marketing ideas. I do think that selling the tickets in one place exclusively on Skiddle is very helpful to us as you can track sales easily, see where customers are travelling from what ages they are and look at all previous events to compare selling patterns.
Luke on… HomoElectric’s plans for events and growing the brand
It’s always been organic and by osmosis, it still slowly develops and changes. This year all our residents are now making music in their own right. Playing on Radio 1 and various underground clubs all over Europe. We are also looking forward to hosting many stages at various festivals this summer like Gottwood and Lost Village and abroad in Croatia at Love International.
The last HomoElectric was one of my favourite HomoElectric parties and it felt just as exciting as it did at the beginning with the most wonderful mix of clans and ages.
Got a question you need an answer to? Give us a call on 03333010301 or ask us a question over on the Skiddle Promoter Twitter account by clicking or tapping on the button below. Alternatively, you can also find a list of our most frequently asked questions over at https://help.promotioncentre.co.uk/