Queer bodies dancing all over oppressive regimes of heteronormativity. A community created to subvert. A utopia that is free from the constructs of society. A safe space for kinfolk, but not that kind of safe space where you feel censored and sheltered — one that functions in a way that allows you to confront things. This is the Death of Glitter (DOG) – a physical embodiment of radical queer expression, staged as a party within Cape Town’s underground queer club scene. With its home at 69 Hope Street at EVOL club, DOG continues on the tradition and history of EVOL as a breeding ground for early 90s club scene articulation.
Glam. Glamourous. Shimmering. Dark. Incandescent. Glitter is dead but the body is not consumed —DOG is a chronicle of complete love, acceptance and creative rebellion, where bodies move to the rhythm of their own heartbeats. It was founded by Tazmé Pillay and is currently co-organised with Zac Fleishman, made possible with the help of photographers Alix Hodge, Meghan Daniels and the synthwave band SABiNE. DOG is very much a community of people. Since its inception I have seen it grow into a community of like-minded individuals who have used the space as home, a laboratory and a meeting space, – Tazmé. The first party, titled ‘Unsex Me Here’, took place in 2017 and later inspired an 8-minute film following a night in the lives of a group of friends on their way to a DOG party.
Community and queer family aren’t easy to find in Cape Town. This is despite the city being regarded as the gay capital of the country with annual activations such as the Mother City Queer Project , hailed as the biggest dress up party where partygoers can unleash their creative alter-egos, unrestricted by everyday conventions and the Out in Africa Film Festival, which offers a glimpse into the LGBTQIA+ community through film. The city is still fragmented across race and class. Tazmé notes that Cape Town’s queer culture is segregated and lacks intersections. He speaks of his experiences with what he terms the “gay-triarchy’ where toxic notions of hierachies are imposed on bodies and lives within queer communities.
In an interview with IOL before the launch of the inaugural 2018 Queer Feminist Film Festival (QFFF) in Khayelitsha, coordinator Mase Ramaru noted “Many queer people are excited about the festival. This could be a attributed to a need for queer spaces in the city and to how there are not enough spaces for queer people to organise”.
Lived space is embodied space and felt space – a way in which we encounter and are embraced by spatial dimensions through time. Spaces that actively advocate for inclusivity, like the DOG and QFFF, are few and far between. Spaces that inspire safety on a psychological level; phenomenological spaces, are even farther.
When I ask Tazmé on whether DOG is a safe space, he responds:
I fucken love safe spaces. But safe spaces as we understand them can often collapse in on themselves. Queer spaces can never be safe spaces, they are spaces that are challenging. There always needs to be an element of danger, of subversion, which is what pushes a space beyond itself and challenges us to see the world in a different light and imagine something beyond that which we perceive to be reality.
As a performance artist and theatre geek, Tazmé thinks of DOG through the lens of performativity and performance. Performativity as the complex and stylized repetition of acts —a language and coding for constructions of the self. DOG is an arena for performance where performativity becomes a strategy for exploration, subversion and defiance. The night club as alternative theatre.
“DOG presents an alternative idea of theatre…..coming back to the idea of bodies performing themselves, of bodies imagining themselves as things beyond their realities”.- Tazmé