”Written byLiam Girie
“For Queers, by Queers ✨”
While it may seem parochial to assume that the war on prejudice is over, Femmes & Thems is a proud manifestation of how far we have come and a beacon of better days to follow. In fulfillment of its raison d’être, the collective has been pivotal in creating safe spaces for LGBTQIA+ POC partygoers in Cape Town.
Beyond their eminent role in the local electronic music events scene, the team’s deeper initiatives see their regular involvement in projects aimed towards empowering the many talented young females and LGBTQIA+ POC staking their claim in the South African electronic music industry.
As Femmes & Thems continues to foster greater inclusivity, love, and acceptance in and among the communities of this generation, it also serves to disrupt further the stale meta of a white male-dominated industry and scene.
We had the fortunate opportunity to touch base with Femmes and Thems, to learn more about this collective and get a sense of its constituents’ thoughts on the amazing work thus far and what’s in store for the future.
How did Femmes & Thems come to be?
Femmes & Thems was created by a group of young creatives, who felt there was a huge gap in Cape Town when it came down to safe spaces for queer POC. After being in spaces in Cape Town that were said to be queer/queer friendly but never quite feeling in place or comfortable, we decided to create these spaces ourselves. This collective stands out as a reminder of the power of community. The team – founded by Lu Chauke; Tanya Robertson; George Moekena; Khusta Faku, and Carly Hendricks – is comprised of people with various skills, talents, and love from the music industry – DJ’s, Events Managers, Artist Managers, Singers/ Songwriters and more.
“Our goal has been to create a sense of community amongst people who otherwise haven’t felt welcome or safe in other social settings.”
What is Femmes & Themes?
Femmes and Thems is a Cape Town based Queer POC Collective shifting narratives and creating community in the city. Since 2021 the Femmes and Thems team have been creating platforms for music, vibe and DJ enthusiasts through events, outreach, and workshops aimed at empowering queer people in music and providing them with access to materials to flourish. Our goal has been to create a sense of community amongst people who otherwise haven’t felt welcome or safe in other social settings.
In an industry that has been dominated by white men, the most exciting shift in our party spaces has been the step away from toxic industry norms to creating events that are inclusive and safe. Although we are alive in a time of heightened social consciousness, are things actually changing in the scene?
Progress is definitely present, but it is slow and requires patience and tact. White men are definitely still dominating the space. However, bit by bit, you either see spaces or the people that regulate them seeing that there is a great need for change and diversity.
Celebrating our individual uniqueness is one of the most joyous parts of the supportive communities based around CT, with self-expression being the focus for most of the party-goers. Why do you think it’s essential to create a party space where people feel safe to be exactly who they are?
So much of the messaging in the world teaches us to hate ourselves, and it is hard enough to fight that programming without the rest of the world mirroring it back to you. We think that what queer individuals long for most is to look around and have love and acceptance mirrored back to us. A lot of us have lived with shame and self-doubt for too long. It is important to have spaces to feel safe to be exactly who you are because this fosters it to being a daily lived reality.
There feels like a beautiful excitement building around our independent collectives towards the future of what CT’s scene will look like, what do you want to see more of?
More Poc/Queer DJs/artists headlining and running events.
More spaces where safety is a top priority.
More spaces that actively engage and find out what the needs of their patrons are.
What are the qualities of a Femmes and Thems event that make it unique?
The amazing music and DJ curation as well as having a space where you feel that the people around you mirror you and your lived experiences. We believe in prioritising the needs and safety of queer POC in Cape Town.
Our crowd is bold, colourful and eclectic. Those are the easy adjectives that come up when trying to describe a crowd as diverse as ours.
What goes on behind the scenes to ensure a good time for partygoers?
Searching for spaces that can ensure the safety of our community as well as cater to a diverse range of people. DJ training and workshops to ensure we are nurturing a community that prioritises teaching and learning from our peers.
What are your thoughts heading into the long-awaited reprisal of Smalltown Beat? What have your prior experiences been like and what do you look forward to seeing this time around?
We are very proud and excited to have a stage at STB. It’s an honour to get a platform that allows our residents to represent themselves and the community through the music that they love and want to hear.
Most of our team have never had a festival experience so this will be their first. We look forward to experiencing the different scenery with amazing music as an added extra.
What can we expect from Femmes & Thems at this year’s festival?
Femmes & Thems aims to bring sounds and energy infused with culture and representative of what makes us feel good…
Lastly; With only 3 more weeks to go, how are you preparing for STB?
Fortunately, the Stb team is very hands-on, allowing us to simply focus on working hard to curate beautiful music that will move both hearts and feet.
If you were prudent enough to get your ticket for Smalltown Beat this month, you will be happy to know that Femmes & Thems will be there to usher you into a weekend of magic with their Friday lineup of talented female and enby artists. This 18th of November, catch Fat Belly Lu, Big Boy T, Nahledii, Yvonne Me, Nneka Nekcy, and Georgethegroove supplying bangers in powerful back-to-back sets.