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What’s the party providing a safe space for London’s femme-queer community? Technomate

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From meme to the scene, this FLINTA-orientated night has rapidly grown to be a pillar for education and representation

  • Words: Becky Buckle | Images: Michele Baron
  • 22 November 2022

If you’re looking to experience the same sweaty dancefloor vibe commonly found within the dark depths of Berlin’s techno dungeons, but want a break from the typically white cis male crowds stomping through the night — Technomate (TM8) at Tottenham’s Unit 58 feels like a breath of fresh air. Supporting the minorities within the minority of queer people, TM8 is a space purely for those of the FLINTA community — AKA people who identify as Female, Lesbian, Intersex, Transgender or Agender. With a mission not to “feed into the toxic understanding of techno,” the community is ran solely by Russian-born DJ olesia and goes beyond the walls of Unit 58.

Starting in 2019, the building blocks of a concept came about when olesia was attending weekly meet-ups to learn how to DJ with her work colleagues from Resident Advisor. olesia explains: “as a group of friends learning to DJ and we all identified that there wasn’t a platform for people who are just starting out in the industry.” She adds: “It just came up in the conversation and that’s when I had this light bulb moment. It was kind of like an intuitive decision as running events is what I’d always wanted to do.” The name, Technomate comes from a meme which read: “What music you into?” with the image of a satellite dish branded “Technomate”.

This particular area of “identity” was narrowed down even further when olesia began to explore her own, “I wasn’t fully out as a queer person when I first started the collective,” olessia reflects. “Originally we were a women-only collective but as I was coming to terms with my own gender and my own sexual identity. I was identifying more needs for the spaces that are needed for people like myself.” By not just supporting women, she decided that TM8 would be a space for people that were experiencing a similar, significant, self-exploratory moment. She explains: “When you come out later in life, it’s intimidating. It’s a lot to take in and it can be really overwhelming to go to your first queer event. Queer spaces are often dominated by cis men and the queer events in London in particular don’t have a lot of femme-identifying people — it just feels like gay men kind of took over a little bit. So I wanted to bring it back to women and femmes.” From this moment, the collective began to focus on providing a space for FLINTA patrons.

Read this next: Body Movements festival was a landmark occasion for queer self-expression

“A lot of my experience going out to parties both before and after I came out as queer has been about being harassed. Being bothered by men and even gay men, and I don’t want anyone to ever experience this at my events. That is at the very core of it for everyone to feel equal and safe at the same time.” Not only does TM8’s policy request purely FLINTA techno-head attendees but also each line-up curated by olesia is from the queer minority. “I also really wasn’t happy seeing really big names all the time” she shares. Finding herself prior to starting her own night constantly in a club or on a dancefloor, she has experience tracking down artists; searching for FLINTA DJs that deserve a platform, especially those who do not have the benefit of social media advertising themselves. “A lot of the time people wouldn’t know the majority of people in the line-up,” says olesia with confidence adding: “I’m fully aware of like how risky it is for me to do that as a promoter and it definitely means that I have to promote my events quite hard. But this is why I normally would write a very detailed bio for every artist.”

It seems that no night is the same at Technomate. Line-ups are fully FLINTA and spotlight the underground techno scene sharing gems to the space. The hazy red room embedded within this unit has a friendly disco ball shimmering across the faces of shoulder-pumping hardcore techno-heads. Get face-to-face with the DJ, stare down at the spectacle from the balcony or just sit outside, cigarette in hand with the thumps of bass echoing out. You are safe to express yourself, make friends and dance freely.

Read this next: Queer the dancefloor: How electronic music evolved by re-embracing its radical roots

Recently TM8 faced its most successful night with its first-ever sold-out party. “It was such a joy to see our attendees come out in full, fierce force and support an outstanding bill of artists from around the world. Each artist delivered an incredible set and the energy flowed seamlessly throughout the night.” These artists were, Amphibian, Golden Medusa, High Speed Violence, Viscerale and Drazzit. To make sure all those that played enjoyed their time the night before olesia reconnected with those involved to have a catch-up. “It’s so special to me building these friendships. Technomate to me has always been about a family vibe; building and nourishing the relationships with the artists and staff I work with. It means the world to me to get to know and work with people who share the values that I and TM8 hold. It is one of the main reasons why I promote, despite the insanity of being a promoter in 2022.”

Still receiving feedback from ravers including comments on their Instagram such as “still buzzin from that night” and “it slayed so much”, olesia hold a huge sense of pride saying: “It was such a warm, family-like feeling throughout the night.” A highlight of the night was finding out that a person met their now-girlfriend at TM8’s last party and that they were partying together as a couple for this latest night.

Technomate delivers a thoroughly thought-out system to create a safe and inclusive environment with a number of simple yet effective policies that olesia has hand-crafted. Tickets are reasonably priced, with olesia setting aside guestlist for NHS workers, sex workers, those on a low-income or unemployed so that nobody feels like they have to miss out.

Read this next: Unorthodox Event is leading the first queer movement in drum ‘n’ bass

Upon-entry people are given the option to wear a badge with their pronouns on, so to stop anyone from assuming the identity of fellow ravers. Consent is also required when taking photos. With a no-flash rule, people can take pictures but an on-site photographer is present who will also ask for permission before taking a snap.

Not sure what to wear? No problem. TM8 has no dresscode. olesia explains this in-depth: “Lots of queer events see people put a lot of time and effort into how they look but you don’t have to look any kind of way to be queer and a lot of the time we get fetishised. People want to come to these events to be around those cool people. For them, Friday ends and they take their leather harness off but for us, we are still queer and I see a lot of other promoters use it as a marketing thing.” However, people are also encouraged to dress freely and express themsleves as there reallly is a sense of no judgement.

The aspect that makes Technomate’s ethos so bulletproof is its caring welfare team. The nightlife industry has a long history of poor security, discrimination as well as a general lack of welfare teams at many events including LGBTQ+ nights, yet TM8 has a successful solution. Each night a queer-trained welfare team that are constantly present to deal with any issues that may arise. At the end of every night, at 5:AM, olesia has a debrief with the team to talk through any situations that might have happened on the night, how they’ve dealt with them and how they want to deal with similar situations moving forward.

These resourceful and logical policies are why so many people join olesia’s .edu, an educational meet-up for those who wish to delve into running nights. Each .edu sees a panel of usually three industry experts from fellow FLINTA event Femme Fraishe’s Michelle Manetti to the infamous Inferno founder Lewis G. Burton, provide insight and discussion. olesia says: “Education is one of the biggest things that we hold as our ethos. I learned through doing this and I want to encourage everyone else to just put themselves out there, embarrass themselves, embrace the newbee status and be brave. You are welcome in this space.” For those who can’t make the .edu events, TM8 posts an Instagram story for people to send in questions which get asked for them.

Beyond the club, Technomate also hosts mixes from artists that are associated with the community as well as due to play a party in the coming months to give you a taste of what to expect. Not only are mixes broadcasted but also it’s very own podcast. Starting prior to its nights, there have been almost one hundred episodes all available to freely listen to on SoundCloud. “At the beginning, it was just our friends and friends and friends but then it was the DJs that I thought were fucking amazing but never put themselves out there. With the podcast, we are also moving towards more international guests and people that might not be able to play in London.”

Finishing with a bang, TM8 has just pursued its last party of the year and saw it debut its first festival at Body Movements but big plans are awaiting in 2023.

Keep up to date with Technomate’s podcast, nights, educational panels and more here.

Becky Buckle is Mixmag’s Video and Editorial Assistant, follow her on Twitter

Written by: Tim Hopkins

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