The New Queer

Cambridge’s missing queer scene, and why you no longer have to worry

drag fountain GAY Kambar LGBT oh rama queer spectrum

Thursday night sees the launch of a brand new club night, -Oh! Rama, take place at The Fountain.

We’re calling this event ‘The New Queer Party for Cambridge’ and we’re aiming to provide something completely different to what is currently on offer in this city.

Many people by now will be familiar with the term ‘queer’. But for those who aren’t, allow us to elaborate.

The word ‘queer’ aims to remove the divisions implicit in defining yourself by one gender identity. It is a catch-all term that breaks away from LGBT (and indeed ‘S’) by acknowledging sexuality and gender as continuums and/or performances, able to change over time and in different situations.

It is an inclusive word that invites everyone to be themselves, part of the fun, part of the party.

Putting the 'queer' in Queerbridge

Putting the ‘queer’ in Queerbridge

So why are we doing this now? Well first of all, we’re not alone. ‘Queer’ parties are springing up all over the UK in response to a general feeling that the commodification of gay nightlife has gone too far.

The lazy soundtracks that assume that the LGBT community have nothing better to do on a night out than exist in an aggressive sexualised space where songs-that-tell-you-what-you’re doing (e.g. “I’m in the club, in the club, on the phone, in the club, at the bar, in the club way oh way oh”), almost seem engineered for our passive consumption.

It is also pretty out-dated, in the sense of making people feel they have to conform to a narrow definition of their sexual and gender identity.

For another reason, we just really really like music; music in all its wonderful, variant, diverse forms. There is so much good music out there. And so much of it is not being listened to.

The queer communities of the 1970s and 80s used to be the best place to have a party, and we were pioneers in music culture from disco, to house, from glam rock to post-punk. Where do you think Madonna got her inspiration for Vogue from, or where Boy George’s gender-bending originated, or what Azealia Banks is still rapping about today?

Good music should be enjoyed by everyone and we want to create a space that encourages people to come together who appreciate great music, a playful, creative atmosphere whether they’re lesbian, trans, bi, straight, questioning or whatever.

Queer is about inclusiveness, and more than most regular LGBT nights, we hope that people who are often excluded from mainstream events can feel comfortable at -Oh! Rama. We want people to feel unrestrained by what is expected of them at regular LGBT nights. And we also want to encourage ridiculous dancing, vogueing competitions and outrageous attire. What fun!

On the same night as we open, the Glasgow School of Art will run Spite House, a party of similar ilk, in Glasgow. London has a rash of nights from Sink the Pink, Unskinny Bop and the general vibe of East End dives such as Vogue Fabrics, Dalston Superstore and the Joiners Arms.

Even on the edge of Europe in my hometown of Dundee, a small pokey bar called the Salty Dog, mashes up the camp with masc, the stilettos and the steroids, where it’s permanently either Christmas or Halloween. By setting up –Oh! Rama, we are merely adding to the queer stew and bringing Cambridge slightly more up to speed with what’s happening in the rest of the country.

Until 2012, there was a little bar in Cambridge called Kambar. This was the place to go for really excellent parties that could be described as queer; a range of great music, outrageous dress sense, sweaty punters of all sexual persuasions, and (not-to-be-forgotten) dodgy toilets.

With –Oh! Rama, we are trying to reignite what got lost when Kambar shut down, and we’ve even got some ex-organisers involved to lend a helping hand.

Kambar, the best club in Cambridge until it closed in 2012

Kambar, the best club in Cambridge pre c.2012

But ultimately this night is for you. There has been a groundswell of support for this night, and much talk has been circulating for at least a year, among people from all sections of the community, that Cambridge needs a new queer scene. This is what we are aiming to do with -Oh! Rama.

Monday nights at Spectrum serve a purpose and don’t get me wrong, you will often find me there double-fisting with my cheap bottles of beer. But for those of who want something more involved, more interactive and more inclusive, you shouldn’t have to go all the way to London.

When I first came to Cambridge having lived in Manchester and London, I thought this would be a place full of independent bars and clubs, assuming that it would be like Berkeley in the 1960s. Alas it was not so, and so we’ve decided instead of moaning to do something about it and put on a new party for everyone to enjoy.

At the end of the day, we believe our diversity deserves a venue in which to be celebrated.

-Oh! Rama will be hold its launch party on the top floor of The Fountain this Thursday. Click here for the event page