CREATING A SPACE FOR LOCKDOWNS’ LOST WOMXN LED NIGHTLIFE SCENE
“What we fail to understand is that for many, clubs and venues are a sanctuary that allow people to connect and feel represented“
By Samantha Togni
Growing up in a very small village I felt like an outsider; music for me was essential escapism. When I discovered live gigs, I would travel for endless hours with my friends to get to punk shows.
We did not care how long it took to get there, we just knew we had to be there – it became all about commitment, attitude and supporting the scene we loved. Music was the force that brought us together and when you feel this passionately about music, London is an obvious destination. So I relocated, embracing the city and ultimately the electronic music it is famous for.
The incubator of London’s iconic dance music is its’ established and diverse nightlife scene. During the pandemic, without my nightlife community, it has been a real challenge to stay focused on creating and developing my projects. Financially and mentally it has been a struggle for myself and so many artists and people working in the music industry, particularly for the ones like me whose work is strongly inspired and driven by the community itself.
I have always been involved in the LGBTQ+ community which is like a second family to me. It has allowed me to find myself as an artist and as an individual. The message of collectivism and solidarity that I took from the punk scene – the notion that music cannot exist without a message or a statement is particularly resonant in a LGBTQ+ space. The rise of Covid-19 has presented profound difficulties for such spaces and the individuals for which they hold significance.
What we fail to understand is that for many, clubs and venues are a sanctuary that allow people to connect and feel represented. For a lot of individuals coming to our nights, our events were one of the few times they felt really safe and able to express themselves without judgement. It breaks my heart that the government doesn’t acknowledge this and it is not giving enough support to the music industry.
This is one of the main reasons why I decided to put together the Boudica Music Conference. The main focus of this project is to inspire more Womxn and non-binary people to become involved in the music industry.
I want this event to bring a spirit of solidarity and carry on the discussion about how we can keep on working on making the music industry a better and more equal place. My biggest fear is that all the progress made by the different organisations fighting the disparities throughout the music industry could somehow be lost in these turbulent times.
There are some fantastic organisations that are fighting this backslide already, to name a few: Women in CTRL, shesaid.so, 2% Rising and Keychange. I am so grateful that representatives from these organisations will be part of the conference, despite the fact that we are entering a new lockdown!
Boudica will also give us a chance to have a timely discussion about how this year has influenced the well-being of those in the industry and to strategise ways to connect to our audiences, now that the traditional methods of engagement are no longer available to us.
It was difficult to get something together in such scary and uncertain times but everyone has been really supportive. It’s encouraging, support is fundamental to what we are going to facilitate. For this reason I’ve ensured the conference is accessible and open to everybody, and that tickets are complimentary. Through the conference we aspire to give confidence to people that face anxiety in this moment and to those who don’t put themselves forward at all despite their talent.
Samantha Togni, an internationally-renowned DJ, producer and promoter. She is the founder of Boudica, a London based label and monthly radio show on Threads and The Pickle Factory, a party and platform for womxn and non-binary folk. She is also a core member of INFERNO, a London-based club collective.