Reviewed: HOMOBLOC 2019
Manchester’s Homoelectric has been the beating heart of its underground scene since the 1990s, proudly hosting a non-stop, backstreet discotek “for homos, heteros, lesbos and don’t knows”. A refuge for misfits and underdogs with resident DJ’s playing House, Techno, Italo Disco, Acid House and everything in between. This raw, underground queer party has been a welcome contrast to the commercialised, sticky sweetness of nearby Canal Street.
And this November, co-founder Luke Unabomber has upscaled the night into a full-blown festival for 10,000 revellers in the form of HOMOBLOC – “a queer block party for all”. Taking place at the Depot at Mayfield, a majestic former railway station, the venture boasted a sensational line-up of LGBTQ+ icons including Honey Dijon, The Black Madonna, Robyn, Roisin Murphy, Horse Meat Disco and many, many more.
There was a sense of warm and wacky comradeship on the streets outside the Depot as flocks queued in the rain for one of the most hotly anticipated queer events of the year. In line with the Homoelectric manifesto, there were no “love island 100g protein banter boys” amongst the crowd – but every facet of queerness imaginable. Partygoers were welcomed into a vast sea of leather, latex, crop tops, drag and glittering bodies of all ages dancing together with the same wristband on reading “Love is the Message”. It was a beautiful sight to behold – and it was clear that this was no place for “fighting or ego biting”.
On stage, vogue dancers pranced, dipped and duck walked to the beat of Honey Dijon’s drum as she commanded the crowd with high energy edits of Lisso’s ‘Juice’ and The Ethics’ ‘To The Beat Of The Drum’. Dancer Jay Jay Revlon strutted down the catwalk to Robbie Tronco’s ‘C.U.N.T’, wowing the audience with a series of stylised, Vogue Fem gestures before taking a sip of Mama Dijon’s juice.
Next on the agenda was former Studio 54 resident Nicky Siano at The Archive – and this house music veteran did not disappoint with a selection of uplifting, heavenly disco cuts and dance-around-your-handbag boogie numbers. Soon after, we were treated to a live set from the House Music Gospel Choir who sang renditions of popular house music classics including Dennis Ferrer’s ‘Hey, Hey’ and Floorplan’s ‘We Magnify His Name’, reiterating that “love is the message”.
Back in The Depot, there was raucous applause and screams of sheer joy as the caped silhouette of Roisin Murphy emerged on stage, delivering a live set of her new material and ending on timeless 90’s banger ‘Bring It Back’.
Performers paraded through the various spaces brandishing Westboro Baptist Church style placards, positively flipped to read tongue in cheek slogans including; “Poppers don’t preach”, “God loves lipstick lesbians”, and “Pat Butcher made me gay”. All glitter, unicorns and hedonism aside, there was a common political thread that ran through the festival and images of oppressed LGBTQ+ communities in Europe flashed on a huge LED backdrop, raising awareness of the ongoing fight for equality. We learned that in partnership with All Out, HOMOBLOC raised a commendable £11,951 for the charity on the night, which will help to support LGBTQ+ people across Europe with crowdfunding for life-saving projects like shelters and counselling hotlines.
As The Black Madonna brought the night to a euphoric close, you couldn’t help but look at the beaming faces around you and feel like you’d just been part of a historic moment. It was two fingers up to Toryism, a coming together of misfits and renegades, a refreshing celebration of all things queer and a reminder that “we are the dirty bastards” – and we’re here to stay.
HOMOBLOC was undeniably one of the best days/nights of my life! Huge congrats to the team for pulling off a truly spectacular event!
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