Tuesday 01 May
19:00 - 21:30
Suzy Mason — Vague One Foot in The Rave x Chinwag
One Foot in the Rave’s Chinwag series take in some of the biggest names in the history of the acid house scene, and this one won’t fall short, as we talk to Suzy Mason.
Suzy returned to her hometown of Leeds after graduating from Goldsmiths, co-founding the Kit Kat Club in 1992 in direct opposition to the rave scene. This widely acclaimed art club had a cigarette girl, a cage, blue cocktails and cheap champagne, as well as regular variety acts and some very distinguished clientele.
She witnessed a lot of prejudice and a lack of opportunity for girls at this time, as well as blatant homophobia. She formed Vague in 1993 – the first purpose-built, mixed, safe-space club in the UK – in response.
Vague was a regular night at The Warehouse nightclub in Leeds from 1993 to 1996.
Resident DJs over the years included Fryer and Raphael as “TWA” (variously styled as “Trannies With Attitude” or “The World is Androgynous”), Phil Faversham, Curtis Zack and Anne Savage. The club is credited as being the first in the UK to advertise itself as “mixed” – i.e. for heterosexual, bisexual, and homosexual patrons equally – although vetting of customers on the door by Madam JoJo was notoriously strict.
Once inside, the atmosphere was one of tolerance, hedonism, and sexuality. It played a mixture of handbag house, hard house and hard trance music, with a more eclectic selection of music upstairs.
Suzy went on to launch Speedqueen in 1997, as a Social Enterprise (before it was a formal business model) that hosted weekly club nights and ran an experimental non-gender, DIY, fashion boutique specifically to give opportunities, and support and nurture new local creative talent in the city.
Speedqueen was designed specifically for Leeds, to break down gender, social, racial and age barriers, and had a members’ programme to support local charities. As a result of this, they were invited by NATO’s stabilisation force SFOR to tour Bosnia as part of an integration programme to engage displaced young people from Croatian, Serbian and Muslim backgrounds through music and dance, after the genocide. This led to a 5-year project organising music workshops and parties in nightclubs, refugee camps, primary and secondary schools and children’s homes in Bosnia.
Speedqueen has now become a large, loyal and dynamic international community in its own right.