IN CONVERSATION WITH PERRY & NIKS ON ‘DE SCORRO X B.A.D’ ADE 2023
Conversation by Dean Sanders
Welcome to the world of De Scorro, a visionary initiative brought to life by talented programmer and concept developer, Perry Gits. This concept is a celebration of the Black and Latinx LGBTQ+ scenes, paying homage to the often-underappreciated roots of clubbing culture on a global stage. For this special ADE edition, Perry has joined forces with Co-founder of Black Artist Database NIKS. The event will take place on Friday 20th of October at De School during ADE with an all-Black lineup featuring artists such as Batu, Goth Jafar, Arakaza & DRKNGHTS, and DJ Stingray 313.
Perry can you tell us more about the inspiration behind De Scorro and the vision you have for this concept and club night?
Being a black gay hippie has its own set of challenges. I had to navigate through various scenes, searching for spaces where me and my friends could genuinely be ourselves. When I first started going out I was really involved in the hip-hop scene, but I didn’t feel entirely safe as a black gay man in those spaces…it seemed like I couldn’t authentically express all aspects of my identity. Then I found ballroom – a scene I am still heavily active in, but it doesn’t reflect everything that I am either.
It’s through these different scenes that I realised I didn’t want to categorise myself and that I wanted to create a space for these different intersects to thrive. Around 2015 I began noticing positive changes in the electronic scene. There was a growing presence of queer DJs and I saw more and more parties focusing on the LGBTQ+ community. However, I still felt there could be more – something reflective of blackness and of queerness with roots in these different nuanced scenes.
So it was very important to me when I took on the role of programmer at De School that I was able to organize a club night where Black and Latinx LGBTQ+ people could come together and feel safe. And here we are.
For this upcoming event De Scorro is working together with Black Artist Database NIKS, could you tell us how B.A.D. Started? Also, because it started as Black Bandcamp how did this transform to the current format?
Back in June 2020, we initiated what would become known as the Black Bandcamp. It all began as a response to everything that was going on, not only across the globe but particularly within the United States. At that time, we were all confined to our homes, glued to the news, witnessing a distressing stream of murders, torture, and atrocities. In response to this a group of friends I convened on a WhatsApp group, talking about how we could make a meaningful impact within our sphere of influence – the underground electronic scene. We understood it was all tied to the systemic issue of white supremacy.
We realized that while we couldn’t alter the tragic fate of George Floyd, we could address systemic issues within the underground electronic scene. We created a simple spreadsheet. We started by creating a list of black artists which we shared on our social media and stories that very night, asking others to contribute. When we woke up the next morning we found out that 800 names had been added to the sheet. It was a powerful statement in reaction to the global situation that people were ready to stand against injustice. Our resources made it possible for everyone to act and offer support. That’s how it all began, and from there, it grew exponentially.
By the time July rolled around, Bandcamp Fridays were in full swing, with Bandcamp committing to donating 100% of their fees to the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People). Our goal was to ensure more names made it onto our list because, ultimately, the more names, the more people buying from these artists, and the more money returning to their pockets. By July 2020, we had reached about 1000 names.
As the pandemic went on, we realized that while people were still at home many were eager to learn new skills. This made us acutely aware of the fragility of the music industry. I proposed to Ableton the idea: free monthly Ableton workshops. I offered to coordinate it with my friends and secure masterclass teachers, and all we needed from Ableton was the software. They shared our enthusiasm! We got together with renowned figures like rRoxymore, KMRU, AceMo, Loraine James, Russell E.L. Butler, Kassian, and many more. They each delivered two-hour workshop sessions. Each Zoom session drew in around 300 participants.
We felt a strong sense of purpose and knew we couldn’t stop. As the pandemic slowed down, we organized our first club night in London, and since then, we’ve hosted four more. We expanded into live festivals, stage takeovers, panel discussions, and workshops, even participating in ADE last year. Collaborations with like-minded platforms fueled our growth into a comprehensive entity.
It’s important to note that we are a grassroots, independent organisation. We do this because we are passionate about it. We’ll continue to do so because it means we can create spaces where most attendees and performers are Black. To me, that’s amazing.
De Scorro aims to highlight sounds and expressions from the Black and Latinx LGBTQ+ scenes including ballroom. Can you please tell us why the Ballroom scene is so important?
When it comes to ballroom, we have someone like Arakaza, a big name in the Dutch ballroom scene. However, there aren’t many European DJs around. In the United States you find renowned DJ’s like Mike Q and Byrell the great. But here in Europe, we have fewer prominent dj’s in the scene. That’s also a big reason I created this concept and therefore I needed Arakaza onboard. He’s a major source of inspiration for me, particularly due to his diverse sound within the music and ballroom scene. He seamlessly incorporates sounds from his African roots in Burundi and draws from his experiences in New York, creating a musical journey.
I also hold a leadership role in the Dutch ballroom scene. When it was established in 2013, there were no male participants in the ’Sex Siren’ category. I became the first male figure to walk in this category. Now, when you look at the ‘Sex Siren’ category you see numerous male participants. Therefore ballroom must always be a part of my concept as it serves as an inspiration for pop culture.
Artists like Beyoncé have drawn extensive inspiration from trans women in the ballroom scene. Sinia B. Alaia, Mercedes Alpha Omega and Leiomy Miyake-Mugler have been pioneers in shaping pop culture. This influence from the scene extends to the hip-hop scene, the rap scene, and others who draw inspiration in terms of aesthetics, slang, and mannerisms.
Artists Arakaza and DRKNGHTS are performing together for the third time. What makes their participation so important to this specific event?
Christiana, one of the members of DRKNGHTS, Enyo, Lyzza, Zelda Fitzgerald and Arakaza, are my significant sources in The Netherlands of inspiration in the electronic music scene within my generation. So, when I conceived this concept, they needed to be part of it in some way.
DRKNGHTS and Arakaza will be performing for the third time, and this time it’s extra special because they’ll be doing a back-to-back set at the end of the night.
Can you elaborate on how the clubbing experience contributes to erasing individualism and fostering inclusivity?
For me, the club has always been a sanctuary. I’m a passionate dancer and deeply in love with music. If we delve into history, we discover that it was black trans women, black gay men, and black gay women who laid the foundation for the electronic music scene in places like Chicago, Detroit, and New York. These trailblazers hosted parties at iconic venues like Paradise Garage and opened doors for countless others.
I began my clubbing journey about 12 to 13 years ago. The Saturday night club scene offers a chance to unwind after a week’s work, dance, and connect with friends while also making new friends. However, the dance and techno scene eventually became heavily Eurocentric which made it unwelcoming for us.
The warehouses in Detroit and Chicago were spaces where working-class Black individuals gathered to unwind at the end of a long week. It was a community hub.
The club is a profound way to connect with people, engage in conversations on the dance floor, and form lasting friendships and relationships. Outside our niche underground scene, some may struggle to grasp the concept that club spaces serve as foundational pillars for many.
The upcoming event is more than just a party; it also offers additional experiences. Can we talk about that?
Yes of course! I’ve always aimed to incorporate additional programming with these events. For the second edition, we introduced an auction and a performance featuring Love Masisi’ one of the finalists from Drag Race Holland. We also featured a concept by Lotic from Berlin, which added a unique dimension to the event.
These additions typically take place before the club night festivities. The club night itself runs from 23:00 until the morning, and the day programming kicks off around 15:00 to complement the club night. In the upcoming event, we’ve planned something special as well. Before the club night, we will host a panel discussion with Christine Kakaire from 19:00-20:00, where we’ll delve into our initiatives. Ticket holders for this are welcome to stay and join for the club night also.
NIKS, would you like to elaborate on this?
One of the live acts featured is KMRU, known for his ability to transport your soul to another realm. The concept involves the use of beanbags and incense to fully immerse everyone in this unique space. It’s a method to engage with your mind, body, and soul, preparing yourself for the dance ahead.
What should we look forward to in terms of the fashion people will be wearing at this event?
When I step into this venue, I’m usually accustomed to regular club nights, where the fashion tends to be somewhat reserved. However, when it’s time for De Scorro everything changes dramatically. It’s a rollercoaster of styles and expressions. The attention to detail is astounding, particularly with nail and hair.
It’s been a pleasure discussing De Scorro and B.A.D. in detail. I do not doubt that the upcoming event will be absolutely iconic, a heartfelt homage to the Black LGBTQ+ community! Thank you so much.
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