‘Dance Music Was Forged in the Shadows’: QTBIPOC Collective Producing Secret Halloween Concert in Detroit

Babe House National Solidarity Network aims to give voice to marginalized community

By |2021-10-19T13:12:30-04:00October 19th, 2021|Michigan, News|

In the early days, when Black queer house music was beginning to catch on, queer and transgender Black, indigenous, people of color (QTBIPOC) artists often kept their creations on the down low, and for good reason. QTBIPOC have consistently been pushed out of the music scene for decades — that’s a key reason AJ Raymore launched the Babe House National Solidarity Network

The Network was created in Seattle in 2018 to give a platform and a place to perform to QTBIPOC musicians, DJs and multimedia performance artists. Raymore also created a branch in Indianapolis and, as of this year, a local chapter in Raymore’s native home, Detroit.

 “We pretty much established ourselves as an organization without even knowing it,” they said. 

Originally the networks started as a collective of like-minded QTBIPOC artists that recognized the necessity of reclaiming house music while focusing on the importance of dancing. Later, Babe House evolved into a national solidarity network that works to build support and infrastructure for QTBIPOC communities throughout the country. 

AJ said it all happened “very organically” and that when they moved back from Seattle, they knew that they wanted to spread awareness of “the work that [they] wanted to continue.” 

“In society [QTBIPOC people] are considered the most marginalized group of people who don’t often get enough access to things like health care and jobs,” they said. “I did the work in Seattle and realized later on that it was more necessary than ever during the pandemic to keep up with this work.”

And when they expanded to Detroit, they brought with them the idea that queer music is intersectional.

“Dance music — house and techno music — was forged in the shadows,” Raymore told Pride Source, “because of racism, sexism and homophobia in music venues and bar cultures of the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s.”

Black queer music, said Raymore, generates rhythms of radicalism. 

“This push-out of Black queer and trans DJs from mainstream music scenes has persisted into the 2000s and 2010s,” they continued. “And yet, Black queer and trans DJs keep on spinning because music always has and will always be a part of the revolution.”

They said they hope the highlight of “Black, Indigenous, Latinx, queer, gender deviant, disabled, sexually explicit, and sex working people,” will boost their self-esteem, so they don’t “settle for anything” less than they’re worth.

“When we create local chapters in different states, we want to produce a safe space to create events and help spread awareness,” they explained. “Besides just making safe spaces, we’re also radical activists who create awareness by creating the platform for us to keep going to preserve the work.”

Raymore’s latest effort to spread the word about Babe House and its opportunities is through a secret Halloween concert. To help produce the event, the organization is seeking donations

“We are hoping to get funding in order to have supplies for our event – sound, equipment, and transportation for some of our artists who are from out of state who have never been out of state to play,” they said. “It’s been a lot harder here to have the majority of the community acknowledge the work that we do.”

Details such as location will not be released until the day of the concert. However, Raymore did reveal the names of featured artists, including Kleaner, DJ Coolkidsue, Ariel Sports, EIGHFE, Coast Wild, XIA, Bimbo Hypnosis, Combat—Mommy, and Raymores’ alter ego, DJ Applejuice. 

Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door, with a sliding scale for QTBIPOC people.

To donate to Babe House National Solidarity Network or to find out the location for the secret Halloween costume, visit Babe House on Instagram at @babexhouse.

About the Author:

Jason A. Michael
Jason A. Michael joined Between The Lines as a contributing writer in 1999. He has received both the Spirit of Detroit Award (presented by the Detroit City Council) and the Media Award from the Community Pride Banquet & Awards Ceremony for his writing and activism. Jason is also an Essence magazine bestselling author for his authorized biography "Strength Of A Woman: The Phyllis Hyman Story," released on his own JAM Books imprint.