Get Femme, Get Funky
Give me a background on Party Noire.
Nick Alder Party Noire is a space that celebrates and centers around Black Women.
Rae Chardonnay We’ve been around for almost 4 years. While there were other black queer women-focused parties they didn’t look like the spaces we wanted to be in regularly. We noticed this shift in what people were looking for in terms of nightlife. We love dance and house music and Nick and I both really appreciate social spaces where we can build authentically with our community members. So I think there was a lack of spaces where we could do both of those things, so Party Noire was birthed out of the need for that space for our generation, people younger than us and even some people older than us. A lot of folks I think were feeling the need for a dance music focus and black queer women centered space for real.
So touching on that, four years ago how did you envision this being rolled out?
RC I’m not going to say we didn’t envision it rolling out, but it was very different from how it turned out. When we ideated around the first party it was just supposed to be one party. Then the goal was to eventually take it to other cities—we didn’t know when, we didn’t know how, but that was the goal. After we threw that initial party we were asked if we wanted to stay a bit longer than what we were scheduled to stay. Then we were asked if we wanted to come back the next month. That’s basically how it became a monthly day-party.
Having played in other cities, what qualities set Chicago apart in terms of night life, house and dance music.
RC I’m gonna let Nick touch on this too, but as someone that is not from here there’s a different perspective. For me, if there’s a level of depth to the music, a very soulful feel, a super black-as-fuck feel to the music, then people are gunna move, people are gunna go dance—they hold no bars against dancing. I think that’s one thing that really differentiates Chicago from other places that engage in house music; we will dance, we will fucking dance without any restraint.
NA Yeah, I think Chicago is the forefront of music culture in this country. Chicago gets placed as a second child to New York or LA but really if you look at what’s happening here musically, Chicago is setting the standard and everybody else is just falling in line. So I think along the lines of what Rae is saying in terms of making people move, the conversation is around house being ahead of its time and people are just catching up now to what Chicago has been doing for years.
How have you seen Chicago and Party Noire grown in your years throwing these parties?
RC I feel like every year and every six months we are collectively addressing something that our community needs. When we first started the party we knew that we wanted a space that centered around black women, we knew that we wanted a space that championed dance and the importance of Black Music. Once the people that we were connected to started to show up, it became a space where their needs were met as well as ours. A lot of black queer women come to our space, so eventually it became Okay well this is what we will create to be a safe space for black queer women across the gender spectrum. It eventually grew into that, we didn’t necessarily start with that intention but we realized that that was what was needed.
What was it like in terms of representation prior that that realization?
RC I don’t want to say it wasn’t there at all.
NA It was a statement that was made. We forthrightly said this is what we're doing and we were intentional in the steps we took forward. So I think, for example, we started with booking male presenting DJ’s or male Identifying DJ’s, then we quickly realized that people were not coming here for that, they were coming here for the femme identifying DJ’s, for the people identifying across the gender spectrum. After realizing this fact, we were just like this is what we’re hearing from the community, they want to see these people, we can go to any other party and find men djing.
RC And I think we also personally felt that when we did go out to spaces that weren’t Party Noire or of the likes, it was an unfortunate series of events that we didn’t align with. So, collectively, from the co-founders to the community we were serving, it was definitely clear that it was a necessity.
Touching on this event, how did you guys come about picking the artists you did?
NA Let’s start with the headliner. So Bbymutha is somebody that we have been wanting to book for years. We initially reached out to them around a year and a half ago to try to book them for a show, but it just didn’t work out. So when it came time to put together this show, we were like, "yo we gotta have Bbymutha!"
RC We gotta have Bbymutha!
NA Bbmutha would be the coldest ass, just bringing you raw ass fucking Tennessee ass.
RC I appreciate that she’s from so close to Chicago, I feel as though parts of Tennessee feel much like parts of Chicago. It just felt like really good to include her in this. But like Nick said, we’ve always been huge fans. TT the Artist is the epitome of dance club culture for a millennial crowd.
NA We are a dance party and I’m sure they’re out there now fucking it up.
RC I know theyre fuckin it up. I know they’re going crazy.
I’d imagine that with every event you’re seeing more and more people that you’re unfamiliar with or don’t recognize, but could you give me a glimpse into how much you two have grown since four years ago?
RC It’s actually one of my favorite things, and keeps me headstrong about this project just knowing that there are still people out there who-
NA Who still don’t know what the fuck is going on.
RC Always more people to reach in the space that were creating and that there are more people looking for a space like this.
And not just Chicagoans!
RC Not just Chicagoans! Absolutely not just Chicagoans! Its crazy, we can't get to DC in a week like how people want us to. We’ve been asked to do DC pride for three years
NA For so long.
RC But we haven’t been able to go out there and do it.
NA And i'm just like is there not a party in DC that celebrates women?
RC That’s the question, are there not parties in the cities that are asking for us run by women?
NA Or is it just not Party Noire.
I don’t think I'm tapped into the femme black women scene, not going to say I am as a white man, but probably not. But as far as im familiar with, I don’t think there are any other mobilized forward-thinking inclusive groups that are focused on that objective. So I guess on that point what are you guys looking forward to in the future?
NA We want to go to London next year, we want to be international. I think that, like you said, everytime we go to a new place we understand that there is this need. People are like what you’re doing is something that I want to see and want to feel and I want to be there often. So what I would like to see from us is an international activation. We’ve been doing this for four years, that’s a long time to be doing something. We got Chicago on lock and we understand what it means to activate other black queer spaces in the states, but now we're trying to take it beyond.
RC We’re trying to take the mission beyond where we are right now. That’s definitely goals. I think another collective goal is just to continue to uplift and support the community that has built us up for so long over the four years that we’ve been in existence. There is definitely a consistent community support level that, as long as we have the platform, we will continue to be a part of.
NA They’ve been here.
RC We’ve been here and will continue to just uplift you and book you for things when we get opportunities… yeah.. as long as we can continue to do that.
NA Take them with us.
RC Yeah, take them with us when we go to London for Afro Punk. I don’t know, I don’t even know, but I know that the goal is definitely inclusive of the community that has held us down and the community that we are continually hoping to serve and make space for.