The Lisbon underground parties making space to dance outside the mainstream

LGBTQ+ parties and crews like mina and Circa A.D. are creating more room and support for marginalised people, both on and off the dancefloor

Since March 2017, Lisbon’s mina crew have been supplying the city’s wide-eyed ravers with a queer safe space in which to dance and commune outside of the mainstream. Club music has always found fertile ground in the Portuguese capital, from the storied ‘90s rave scene to the current crop of exciting electronic producers and the worldwide success of Príncipe Discos, but in recent years, community-building collectives like mina have been creating more room and support for marginalised people both on and off the dancefloor.

The itinerant mina night, which has hosted DJs from both the local scene (including BLEID, Violet, Photonz) and international ones (including São Paulo’s DJ Cashu, Berlin-based Isabassi and Cleveland’s Father of Two), vitally powers the LGBTQ+ community in Lisbon with a high-energy soundtrack that veers from skull-crushing hardcore to peak-time techno. Inside the mina parties, which are charged by a wild, hedonistic energy, ravers can find a care corner with condoms and other safe essentials, while non-gendered toilets and an intersectional feminist door policy compounds the crew’s commitment to inclusivity. 

But mina are just one of a number of queer music collectives shaking up the system. Lisbon is comparatively small for a capital city, but the weight of its collective power is stronger than ever. “Groups and collectives like ours are important to question the authority and power of certain music genres, and the contexts and social dynamics of the club scene,” offer LGBTQ-focused club music crew, Circa A.D., speaking as a collective over email. Circa A.D. are interested in sonic experimentation free from judgement. “We want to bind ourselves to each other so the web of resistance can get stronger.”

Elsewhere, DIY label/collective Troublemaker Records, home to experimental club alchemist Odete and avant-R&B singer/songwriter Herlander, are keen to redefine the way R&B music is viewed and consumed in Portugal. “Collectives like ours are crucial at this point in time, as we are going through very a definitive sociopolitical change that involves fighting against structural problems like racism, homophobia, sexism, and other types of discrimination. Our collective provides a safe space in which artists, regardless of their colour, creed, sexual orientation, or political affiliations can be themselves and express their feelings and thoughts, through art.”

This weekend, many of these collectives will come together for the inaugural Ano 0 festival, a two-day event taking place at central Lisbon venue Galeria Zé dos Bois and over the river at Barreiro’s ADAO. It’s being organised by local artists Violet, Odete, Photonz, and Viegas, some of the forces behind Lisbon’s beloved online radio station Rádio Quantica. Speaking as a collective, they believe that “the state of Lisbon’s underground is more fertile than ever, but still very fragmented”. They wanted to create an event “that would reunite the various queer collectives bringing fresh air to the scene, and put them together on the same lineup”. Among the artists performing are multimedia artist Aurora Pinho, Circa A.D. c0-founder StasyaNess of Troublemaker Records, and Violet B2B Photonz. There will also be a panel discussion on how to create a record label featuring input from Violet and Troublemaker Records. 

“Initiatives like Ano 0, Radio Quântica or other likeminded collectives and nights play an important role in creating a common platform for an often overlooked network of crucial queer collectives, artists and activists pushing things forward in a generally hostile – culturally and economically – Portuguese society,”  continue Ano 0. “By celebrating together with a shared sense of ethics we expand its reach and are able to operate in a wider, louder platform, occupying more space.”

Here are some of the queer-led music collectives currently shaking up the Lisbon scene.

RÁDIO QUÂNTICA

Rádio Quântica is a centrifugal force in Lisbon’s underground, soundtracking the movement while stirring up interest in homegrown artists on an international level. A self-described “safe, communal haven for underground Portuguese artists and activists to make their voice heard,” since 2015, Quântica have broadcasted myriad radio shows with a varied music policy. As Troublemaker Records affirm: “Rádio Quântica have played the most important role in giving this whole community a platform for promotion of their music, as well as opportunities for playing big clubs in town that most of us would not have the chance if setting out on this trail on our own”.

SUSPENSION

Closely linked to the mina crew, Suspension is a DJ/artist agency and label based between Lisbon and Berlin that focuses on “multidisciplinary collectives and artists, whose activities intersect through music production and DJing, and performance, visual and digital arts, critical thought and curatorial practice”. It is co-run by mina co-founder (and resident) marum, who now lives in Berlin, and aims “to suspend genres” (hence the name). Suspension is a little like the thinking arm of mina – a place for discussion and debate. They host event series that not only feature live performances and DJ sets, but also workshops and screenings, both in and outside of Lisbon.

TROUBLEMAKER RECORDS

Founded in 2016 by Bruno Gonçalves and Claire Lansing, Troublemaker Records began life on the digital airwaves of Rádio Quântica. They currently have six artists on their roster, including Ano 0 performers Ness, Herlander, and Odete, with Ness’s Mess EP their next release on September 16. “As a collective we want to have an impact in the way music is percieved – we want to give queer and minority artists a platform to create and share their art, free of judgement and prejudice”, say Troublemaker. They hope to encourage artists “to be outspoken and comfortable with sharing their frustrations about the country they live in, be it through the form of a track, a music video or a live performance, or opening up a public and inclusive discussion”.

CIRCA A.D.

Circa A.D., which stands for Circa After Death, “is a queer and trans-aggressive crew that seeks to experiment with unconventional sound and unconventional identity.” They were conceived in 2018 following a discussion among a group of friends (Fylha, Stasya, Odete, Yizhaq and GYUR) who “felt dissatisfied with Lisbon’s club experience and wanted something different for the city and its soundscape”. Circa A.D., want to offer a nurturing environment. “It is our duty to show that there are other ways of creating music, other ways of dancing and overall other ways to have fun,” they say. Circa A.D. currently functions as an online artistic platform and music label. “We are also inviting artists to do mixes for us so we can share their talent with everyone and inspire others to step out of their comfort zones”, they add.

KIT KET

kit ket is a queer collective and party that “prioritises the safety and inclusion of women, trans and non-binary folks”. Private and secret, the guest list is limited to 150 “family members, but with some space for some friends of friends’ outsiders”, according to kit ket founder ketia. Resident DJs include BLEID and Kerox – who will play at Ano 0 – along with local heroes Violet and Caroline Lethô. kit ket events offer a “subversive crossover between a rave and a house party in a non consistent sonic narrative” housed in a “secret two-floor sex dungeon”, with carpeted floors, four beds, endless sofas, cage, two swings and a human-sized cross. Anything goes musically,” says ketia, “excluding techno”.

Ano 0 festival takes place in Lisbon, Portugal on September 6 and 7

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