1st Lecken zine out now!
"Community Standards #1:
Queer nightlife emerged as an adventurous safer space for the exploration and expansion of the radical imagination. It is at once tender and attuned, committed and fanciful, inflected with intersectional social-justice ethos, while also wild and fabulous. Queer nightlife lives by the leftist credo that “another world is possible” but it insists that pleasure, healing, and celebration must be at the core of any transformative politics. Nightlife is political even if the actual work of political organizing can only happen once we leave the party. “Critical rave is one of the things that will help us get through the next decade,” writes one of our accomplices, Samir Sellami. “Even though the rave isn’t going to save us, isn’t going to absolve us, isn’t going to step in for what only politics itself can achieve, it is one of the names for our political desire as it names other political desires.” The cancellations and closures of 2020, superimposed against the overlapping crises of recent months and the struggles many in our community are facing at present, have forced us to recognize the importance of this fine line once more.
The suspension of nightlife, and cultural life more generally, has meant not only a loss of income and already tenuous material stability, but also the loss of group sociality and the pleasures of the collective body. Social distancing raised the question: what exactly is the fabric of queer community and solidarity made up of beyond the dancefloor and the darkroom? We realized how important it is that the connections we make in the club do not evaporate once we leave the afterparty, and that in order to extend, connect, check in, and show up for one another, there need to be more event formats, spaces, and structures outside the club around which we can live and flesh out our shared principles. We also need more robust practices of everyday solidarity—more sober gatherings, more movement practices independent of large and expensive sound systems, more counseling spaces and services, more mutual-aid platforms for queers, more attention to and engagement with other movements and organizations in the city to better understand what is needed, where and how we can help, and who we can fight alongside with. This is a moment of urgency: for justice, for care and for activation, especially in this time when the world feels like it’s on pause, falling apart, and being spectacularly reborn, all at the same time.
2020 is not a lost year. It has given us more time to reflect, educate, exchange, and come together around issues we often have talked about in the club but maybe only rarely have had enough time to dedicate to. We’ve had longer and more intimate conversations with friends we tend to only see in clubs. We’ve spent more time outside, ventured deeper into abandoned Berlin, and looked closer at nature. In club culture we are used to thinking that pleasure lies in excess and hyper-stimulation but pleasure can also be simple and low-key. We might not be able to dance together for some time but we can still come together in other ways, to share knowledge and foster collaboration around issues that are urgent for the queer nightlife left: harm reduction and queer (mental) health; community building, accessibility, and intimacy; intersectional, anti-racist, transfeminist, decolonial, eco-socialist, and anti-/post-capitalist politics. If we are going to fight together, we must do more than dance together.
This zine is, at once, a companion for and an archive of this season spent halfway between cancellation and radicalization. This project began in 2019 as a time capsule of this moment in queer nightlife; since then our world has shifted drastically, and while some of the original material remains, much of it reflects our focus of the last few months. This zine was designed by Landon Whittaker; the harm reduction insert, Queer.Haus interview, and “charmed circles” spread were designed by Em Steinberg. We are so grateful to all the collaborators and contributors for lending their labor and love to this project. And thank you to Ponderosa and the Tipping Utopia residency for supporting Lecken and making this zine possible.