On the 3rd of June I was lucky enough to go to Seize the City, a party that ‘Jose Cuervo’ created to market their liquor, but instead became a sanctuary for young people of all race, sexual orientation and gender to express themselves and feel free. You know those indie coming-of-age films where the teen’s party at underground abandoned sites, where everyone looks different and all you can hear is the booming music? This party was exactly that. The uber dropped me and my friends off at this area behind a building and in front of me was an open building that was clearly abandoned and was probably set on fire before. I was not allowed in yet so all I could see inside the building were lights and an electronic billboard that said “TMRW is Overrated”.
Entrance to building
The first act of the night was Baby Caramelle aka the lovely Elle van der Burg whom I was lucky enough to interview (03/06/2018) before the event started. This is what she said about her debut single and being a transgender activist:
1. Your debut single ‘Coitus’ came out recently, how are you feeling about releasing your first single?
“…my music was all on my own so putting it out there was like a lot more pressure because I don’t have anyone to push the blame onto. I think it’s also like a new space and music is this thing that can either bring people together or tear people apart and playing into that responsibility has been really traumatising but also a relief because it’s out there now…”
2. What was the process behind creating ‘Coitus’?
“A lot of self-doubt and layering. I think it’s easy to make something people can understand and that will sound good, but it’s harder to make something that you’re proud of, if that makes sense? This was important to me to make sure I was saying something but in a way that meant more than what was being said. To me, coitus is a sex song for the tinder age, it doesn’t have a climax because a lot of our sexual relationships these days are built on that phase of validation and then sifting that person out of your life. There’s a lot of passion and lust but it doesn’t equate to anything.”
3. What is the most fulfilling part about being an activist for the transgender community?
“I think it’s just the ability to speak for a community that hasn’t had the ability to speak for themselves yet. I speak so that other people are not afraid to, because I’m lucky enough to have a platform so I’m like why have this thing and be selfish about it.”
4. What does ‘Seize the City’ mean to you?
“This is gonna sound really overthinking this whole thing but like, Jose Cuervo is a corporate and they’re about marketing to people and they’re about selling a product and them hosting an event and having people who are diverse like myself, like queer people, fronting something like this and passing it off as a social movement. That’s really cool because it shows me where our country is going in terms of marketing to people and being part of something like this means that hopefully other corporate's are listening and are like “oh shit”. Kids are interested in lifting everyone in their community.”
Baby Caramelle performing
This was probably the best party I had ever been to. The music was intoxicating, different and fun. The drinks and food were all free which was a bonus. However the most inspiring and incredible part of the night was how diverse the audience was. Not just with skin colour, but with gender, fashion style and sexuality. No one looked the same and it was so exciting to witness so many different people be together and not judge each other, but instead create a fun and safe space for all kinds of young people. I know that I was not the only one who felt this way. As I was getting my first drink, I met a girl named Jem and asked her if I could ask her a few questions (03/06/2017) and she had the same views as me.
When I asked Jem what ‘Seize the City’ meant to her she said she was excited to just be able to dress up and go to a party where queer people were featured as an act. I asked Jem if she thought there was a correlation between fashion and Seize the City, she definitely agreed that there was. “People dress to express themselves and represent their subculture…not like Madison’s Avenue where everyone’s generic”. No offense to Madison’s but I think everyone can agree with what she said. Seize the City was a place where no one was judged for who they are or how they dressed.
My boyfriend and I at the party
Some of the people in the party
All I and everyone else did was dance and drink all night and I felt so connected to these souls. I am sure that most of these people have felt alone, been bullied or judged and something so beautiful was happening in this party. Nobody cared about anything or judged anyone. That is the beauty of fashion as well, that night was a way for everyone, including myself, to express themselves through their dress. I hope there are more nights like this in South Africa because we need it.
If you want to know more about the event and how to attend the next Seize the City, follow @seizethecityza on Instagram.