A series of joyful, radical and accessible queer sober dance parties are set to take place in Birmingham for the first time this summer.
MOBILISE are sober dance parties produced by Fatt Projects and presented by the Birmingham 2022 Festival created to empower people to dance, take up public spaces, feel confident and celebrate themselves – with a particular focus on trans, disabled, PoC, fat and other marginalised bodies.
The dance parties, led by artist and activist Adam Carver, take place at The Exchange in Birmingham every month between now and September with the first one on Saturday, 25 June, and culminate in a large-scale co-devised public protest performance which will lead the iconic 2022 Birmingham Pride Parade on 24 September.
Building on the historical significance of dancefloors as LGBTQ+ meeting places, MOBILISE takes the form of a silent disco allowing participants to disconnect from the immediate outside to dance more freely.
These exuberant, queer social dance parties also feature a range of performances from local LGBTQ+ artists, including Ginny Lemon, of RuPaul’s Drag Race fame and Jaii Andrew.
In the summer of 2020, Fatt Projects undertook a public consultation with LGBTQ+ community members in Birmingham and a series of conversations with local community organisations and leaders. The outcomes of this consultation have shaped MOBILISE, and particularly allowed every detail to support a positive experience to be thought of, from a separate, quiet room available to anyone feeling overwhelmed, changing places and accessible, and gender-inclusive bathrooms, changing rooms for those who prefer to get into their party clothes on site, and a special taxi fund to help with safe travel to and from the venue.
Alongside MOBILISE sober parties, a team of twenty-five queer artists will work with a recruited LGBTQ+ community dance ensemble of up to 50 participants to create a once-in-a-lifetime processional protest performance which will lead the 2022 Birmingham Pride Parade on 24 September, marking the first time ever the Parade is led by a group of performers. It will be an act of collective resistance, mobilising the bodies into a force for joy and transforming the city into runways and discos, in a riotous act of celebration.
Adam Carver (they/them), Director of Fatt Projects said: “We are so overjoyed to be able to create this project here in Birmingham. Dance floors have always been essential spaces for LGBTQ+ communities, they have often been the only places we have felt safe to meet one another and celebrate ourselves. MOBILISE is about ensuring that our city has a queer dance space that prioritises accessibility in the widest sense possible and provides a much needed sober environment for people to come together and experience the transformative power of dancing together as a community. MOBILISE is a space of joy, a space of power, and a space of resistance and we are extremely proud to get to work with this incredible team of artists and community members to make it a reality.”
Tim Hodgson, Senior Producer for the Birmingham 2022 Festival said: “We’re delighted to be able to support Fatt Projects to make MOBILISE happen as part of the Birmingham 2022 Festival. MOBILISE offers an inclusive, empowering and safe environment to celebrate ourselves and rebuild confidence to take up public spaces. It came out of a clear need identified by LGBTQ+ communities in Birmingham and Midlands and will create a real opportunity to positively support isolated people in the region through extraordinary art. We can’t wait to join the party!”
Ginny Lemon said: “When my friend Fatt Butcher told me about this project, I knew I had to be involved, after facing discrimination on my last project due to my disability – I knew I wanted to plough all that energy into making something inclusive and accessible to all. Whilst still being light, fabulous and absolutely stunning. Mobilise to me is a community focused safe space for anyone that doesn’t quite enjoy the hustle and bustle of a club culture but still want to dance they’re asses off! It’s queer, it’s camp and we get to have a fabulous boogie sat on our asses if we want to!”
The first MOBILISE sober social dancing parties takes place on Saturday, 25 June at The Exchange with future dates including Saturday, 16 July, Friday, 19 August and Friday, 9 September. Tickets for the first MOBILISE are now on sale here.
MOBILISE is presented by the Birmingham 2022 Festival and Fatt Projects and is generously supported by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and Arts Council England.