Traumfrau was born in Brighton, out of the need for something new: somewhere we’d want to go to ourselves, a place to meet like-minded humans, other women, fellow queers. All the potential was there, the people had to be somewhere, yet the city felt dormant, a collection of gay bars, saunas we weren’t allowed into, and little more. This was six years ago, a city you’d struggle to remember or recognise if you are queer. Those were the years of Revenge and nothing else – no Trans Pride, none of the many amazing queer club nights. Today things are so different, queer events every night of the week, drag kings, queens, weirdoes, the city caters for all. But it wasn’t always like that. So yes, we were living in Brighton and keen to find those we wanted to connect with and gather them all in one big room!
Have you always wanted to be in events management?
On and off, but not really in events. I have always been engaged in politics and community. And that’s what Traumfrau crosses over with. It’s an event company, but first and foremost it revolves around community, inclusion, connection, identifying who is being left out, what needs to be done and trying to do it.
Why is it important for you to create a safe space for the LGBTQ community?
This would take so long to answer… I could speak of the psychological benefits of having a space where you feel like you are not ‘other’, a space where you are not different or having to be alert that someone might offend you; I could speak of the healing experience of having your trauma validated by people who understand it. Or I could speak of the importance of meeting other people who because they know your pain, are actively engaged and committed to supporting and encouraging you. The queer community as I know it is an incredible place. A place that literally saves lives. Where people find new homes, new families, where people find the kind of love that gets you through the day. The safe spaces I know are an incredible source of positive support. They are beautiful.
Tell us a bit about Traumfrau… What’s the dream?
The concept truly is simple. We want people to meet and have a good time, but try to step out of the usual drunken, and therefore often a little isolating and alienating, dancefloor experience. Which is why we introduced both an element of performance, and an activity that people carry out during the night. Both are aimed at making sure that people have an excuse to talk! Connect around something. Maybe meet while painting a big collective poster, and have an excuse to chat about the show they have just seen.
Another reason we have performances on stage is because in queer culture live entertainment is a really important element of having your experience staged, and validated. Seeing someone on stage who is more like you, is powerful! We are surrounded by role models, celebrities, musicians, actors, that not always model something we can relate to. And then you go to a queer club night, and the star of the night is someone like you, they are not enacting straight love or other normative tropes, and they are on stage, and you can see yourself. That alone is empowering. Add into the mix that often the work is around relevant political themes, the hetero-patriarchy, body, shame, race, gender, class, society… you can see why it becomes so important to be watching someone on stage raging about something you don’t quite know how to put into words yourself.
Every party is different. Entirely different from the one before. The theme, the venue, and even the format. Some have DJs only, some focus a lot more on live acts, some are longer in the form of a mini-festival. We move around different venues all the time: some people like a club, some others would never set foot in one. We like to travel around, treating every new space like a curatorial challenge. We program around having or not having a stage, around having secret extra room for one–on–one experiences, around having a garden or not. You are almost guaranteed that if not this month, the next one will be a party you want to come to.
How do you find the artists and DJs that perform in your shows?
We give priority to those who would not find stage as easily elsewhere. We try to find work that is political, empowering, inspiring. We try to have women on stage as much as possible, all women, being careful and mindful that women have such different experiences, and that some are more marginalised than others. And then we give people complete artistic freedom, as much as the space and time allow, to use the night as a platform for trying out new work, experimenting, finding confidence.
Anything else you’d like to get out there?
I guess, as always: fight the patriarchy, be nice to people who need your allyship, look after yourself.