UNITI is a movement challenging the status quo in dance music. Started in London by Alice aka GANX (21), Englesia (20), and Molly AKA Terribilis (19), the trio have put their love and energy into disrupting the local club scene with its lack parties for ‘weird club music by womxn and lgbtq+ people.’
You refer to UNITI as a ‘movement’ – what are your politics?
Englesia: UNITI is a London-based collective of 3 femmes who aim to offer a platform to womxn & lgbtq+ musicians/DJs in an all-inclusive safer space. We book diverse lineups (more famous + more unknown + local + international + qtpoc artists) for our parties and radio shows. We always pay our artists. We always call out bullshit. We always do the most we can to ensure everyone in our space has the most comfortable, FREEING experience possible. The fact there’s sick music is just one – albeit quite important – part of that. We are here to fuck everything up in the best way possible; to cause disruption and to show marginalised people within dance music that shit is gonna change.
It’s a relief to be able to go out to a party in a public venue and feel SAFE!!!!!
What are the changes you’ve noticed and the conversations you want to see more of?
Terribilis: I’ve noticed a general shift in attitude in the club space, and there’s much more support for femme DJs. A couple of years ago you wouldn’t have seen this many femmes on a lineup – it’s amazing to be a part of that change.
Ganx: Strangers seem more receptive to what we’re doing. I see a lot more people at our nights now. I would love to see more conversations about non-conventionally attractive body types in club music and the space that we occupy within the scene.
Englesia: A lot of similarly-minded, forward-thinking parties seemed to crop up around a similar time as UNITI (eg. SIREN, Goldsnap, BBZ, Magic Clit, AfterTouch, Body Party). You wouldn’t have seen that in London 5 years ago. It’s honestly very moving to see that we are making our voices fucking heard! It’s a relief to be able to go out to a party in a public venue and feel SAFE!!!!! If those who dominate the scene (white dudes!) would listen to the voices of the marginalised, ESPECIALLY when they are sharing their struggles in an attempt to help those more privileged see the imbalance, as opposed to trying to argue with them… that would be pretty neat. We are definitely moving in the right direction – but until everyone who has experienced harassment can go into any club in London without getting harassed, hit on, or touched up, there is still work to do….
Do you have advice for people who don’t get what you’re doing?
Terribilis: I don’t. I believe you’re either inclusive or you’re not. There are people who have come to understand the need for safer spaces but ultimately they were all for equality in the first place. If anyone sees us as a challenge, I say bring it on.
Ganx: My advice to people who don’t get it would be listen to others. If you don’t get it the first time, ask for forgiveness and try again. If you don’t understand us you can always ask respectfully. Personally, I feel like if you’re willing to learn I’m willing to help.
Englesia: I think there are certain people who will oppose what we do no matter what, and who will NEVER understand or even care to learn. It brings to mind this phrase, when you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression. My method of dealing with people depends on how they treat me: if you’re angry at me for fighting for something that endangers me or anyone else on a daily basis, I’m going to be angry back. And why not? We’ve put up with enough shit in our lives. But if you are open to acknowledging your privileges and mistakes, to listening, learning, and growing, then a conversation can definitely be had. But there’s absolutely no time to be wasted on lost causes.
Our aim is to create euphoria in the club space and when you’ve done that, you can see it on people’s faces, you can feel it in the air.
What does ‘safer space’ mean to UNITI?
Englesia: Our safer space policy is as follows:
We need safer spaces and so many people we love need them too. People deserve to exist and enjoy themselves without fear of a negative experience. If I go to a party that isn’t specifically a safer space, I often get touched up or catcalled. It makes me feel unsafe, it makes me feel like I need permission to exist, like I am only allowed to go out and enjoy myself at the expense of my safety and autonomy. It makes me incredibly angry and sad and that’s why, even in the face of opposition, UNITI will never stop fighting. We know hundreds of millions experience this EVERYDAY. Safer spaces are going to be necessary until marginalisation dies, but equality is looking like it’s a very, very far away…
What gives you guys hope to keep going?
UNITI: Part of what keeps us going is smiling faces and seeing people so happy. Our aim is to create euphoria in the club space and when you’ve done that, you can see it on people’s faces, you can feel it in the air. And we do. Doing what we do is harder than people realise, but it is genuinely rewarding when we see the positivity and the momentary sanctuaries we’ve created.
We want to uplift everyone that we can. Our platform is for people who don’t have much of a platform in the mainstream…
Can you tell us about the new compilation, Reclaiming The Void?
Englesia: We emailed out a brief with a link to Audrey Wollen’s ‘Sad Girl Theory’, which ‘proposes that the sadness of girls should be recognised as an act of resistance… Girls’ sadness is not passive, self-involved or shallow; it is a gesture of liberation, it is articulate and informed, it is a way of reclaiming agency over our bodies, identities, and lives.’ Sad Girl Theory is lacking because it only focuses on ‘women’, reinforcing a dichotomy of femininity vs masculinity, which doesn’t feel intersectional. Yet, central to the concept is the belief that forms of resistance exist within emotion, and by expressing our sadness, pain, and voids, we are disrupting. We are self-empowering. We are reclaiming the void.
How did the selection of artists come about?
UNITI: We tried to include self-identified womxn and non-binary artists from every inhabited continent, sticking to our hope of spreading our movement around the world. We have Bonaventure via Berlin/Congo, Debit via NYC/Mexico, Estoc via Seattle, Lizz via Santiago, Lyzza via Amsterdam, Petit Singe via Milan… just to name a few!
What can we expect from UNITI in the near future?
UNITI: We have so many ideas – events (daytime & nighttime!), releases, print (zines!), workshops (not just for djing!), and more! We want to uplift everyone that we can. Our platform is for people who don’t have much of a platform in the mainstream – that isn’t limited to DJs. We don’t want to say too much. We are very dedicated to what we do, and we want to take UNITI as far as we can!… Keep an eye out. 🙂
RECLAIMING THE VOID is out now! UNITI play at Native Self on Friday, 25 August at Butcher’s Tears and on Saturday, 26 UNITIx Amsterdam at a TOP SECRET location (email AMSTERDAM to firstname.lastname@example.org for more info). Free entrance for all.