The only real difference between human beings and any other creature on earth is that we have creative capacity. That and we are troubled. You‚Äôve never seen a hummingbird fret over its reflection or come across a marmoset lying awake in the dark canopies, weeping in the throes of an existential crisis.
‚ÄúPeople‚Äôs fantasies are what give them problems. If you didn‚Äôt have fantasies you wouldn‚Äôt have problems because you‚Äôd just take whatever was there. But then you wouldn‚Äôt have romance, because romance is finding your fantasy in people who don‚Äôt have it. A friend of mine always says, ‚ÄòWomen love me for the man I‚Äôm not’.‚Äù ‚Äì Andy Warhol on drag queens in his autobiography, ‚ÄòFrom A to B and Back Again, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol‚Äô.
Creativity is relief from trouble. It is music, fashion, expression, dancing, sex for fun, makeup, comic books, romance, camp, cinema, dressing up, joking, drawing and drag. To sum it up we‚Äôre different by design and we‚Äôre troubled because society has traditionally spurned this in a big way. Susan Sontag defined ‚Äòcamp‚Äô in her essay, Notes on Camp, ‚ÄúCamp sensibility is disengaged, depolitcized ‚Äì or at least apolitical‚Äù; however some postmodernists, feminists, and queer theorists have explored the ways that camp (for example, the drag show) can trouble the belief that gender is ‚Äúnatural‚Äù or inherent, and can therefore work against heteronormativity.
Gender is the parseltongue, squeezing python and sneaky snake on the plane of creativity and fabulousness. For years, people have been going underground, stepping out of the norm and into something a little more comfortable ‚Äì their own skin. In the words of Mama Ru, ‚ÄúWe‚Äôre all born naked and the rest is drag!‚Äù
Right now, there is a movement going on the world over that is kicking down the doors of gender, morality, value, talent, sexuality and beauty. In truth, it‚Äôs been going on forever but now it‚Äôs out of the closet, on Dazed & Confused and even the ‚Äònews news‚Äô. Here in Cape Town, Diskotekah (DTK) represents this movement and I am a part of it. It began two years ago, started by two Capetonian stylists, DTK creators and co-founders, Michael Beaumont Cooper and Gavin Mikey Collins, who explains the concept of Diskotekah as ‚ÄúA party experience set in a post-apocalyptic paradise. Starting out as a DIY event very much inspired by Brooklyn and Berlin Club Kids, DTK has evolved into a conceptual brand that looks to cultivate an alternative party scene.”
It all begins with the ‚Äòlook‚Äô. The way you present yourself is the first point of reference to who you are. It‚Äôs pure psychology. The look is about status, class, what you want to get out of it and often it shows where you are in your mental stability. For so many of us, it is a rebellious act of art; to be who ever we want to be on the outside freely.¬†Dressing up for parties and the stage is where costume, concept looks and drag first was born.
‚ÄúDiskotekah is a glamorous, glitter queer heaven, that gives all the young boys and girls the freedom to fash out and fuck out.‚Äù ‚Äì Mavuso, a DTK superstar
The Club Kids of the early 90s created a space for all the ‚Äòfreaks,‚Äô ‚Äòmisfits,‚Äô ‚Äòweirdos,‚Äô and generally wild youth in New York City. The leader and creator, Michael Alig, grew up like many gay boys, ostracised and obsessing over Andy Warhol and The Factory. Alig decided to begin the Club Kid movement, a real game changer, he explained, ‚ÄúI wanted to create my own world, a world of colour, where everyone could play. One big party that never ends.‚Äù
If any of you are familiar with the biopic on his life, ‚ÄòParty Monster‚Äô starring Macaulay Culkin and Chloe Sevigny, you‚Äôll have been blown away by the crazy costumes they wore. It wasn‚Äôt always pretty, but it was beautiful. Through those outfits and his vision, thousands of stars were born and people everywhere found their great escape. Alig and his posse are responsible for a very unique kind of drag. It‚Äôs truly obscure and at the same time, a suit of armour against judgment, but the best thing is that it doesn‚Äôt take itself too seriously. When you can do that, you set yourself up to change anytime you want to, from party to party, phase to phase or to stay in character forever.
‚ÄúDiskotekah is an artistic expression, where for one night you can come and let your hair down, or tied up in a 60s beehive and let your freak flag fly. We create a space where you can come as you want. If you are feeling jeans and a T-shirt, that’s cool! But if you feel like dressing as your fantasy, no one will judge you! In fact, we bow down in awe. DTK is a giant art installation that is set to techno music and allows our people to engage, interact and be free to go out into the world and spread the love.‚Äù ‚Äì Michael Beaumont Cooper, DTK creator & co-founder
Diskotekah is a tribute to the legacy of the leaders in the underground world of expression. We aren‚Äôt exactly aiming to change people‚Äôs lives but rather to give people life; Diskotekah is another world and we want you to come.
‚ÄúA thoughtful and exquisitely curated, absolutely necessary and hitherto lacking, playground for unadulterated self-expression.‚Äù ‚Äì Starr, a DTK superstar.
Dystopian, Dysfunctional, Disgustingly, Delicious, Drag, (wet) Dream¬†– The 6 Ds by Derrick Pitts, DTK online artist
Have fun, express yourself liberally and always remember the first rule of Diskotekah: “Diskotekah gives NO fucks!‚Äù
Eliza Cro Day is a writer, a self-proclaimed party girl, and one of the DTK hostesses.¬†
Photographs courtesy of Diskotekah.