Denim Vest: A Sweaty Queer Dance Party for the People, Oct. 1

Denim Vest: Femme Edition / Image by Tiare Lani Kela Jung

Denim Vest: Femme Edition / Image by Tiare Lani Kela Jung

By Casey Stepaniuk

When I first heard about Denim Vest, I was ridiculously excited; I mean, what doesn’t sound awesome about a self-described sweaty queer dance party? It turns out it’s one of those events that’s even better than it sounds.

In case you haven’t heard of it yet, Denim Vest is a seasonal East Van party that’s been running for about two years to roaring success. Held at the Red Gates Art Society on East Hastings, it has an awesome fun-loving, open vibe and it really is exactly what it calls itself: a dance party where even if you’re not moving much, you’re gonna get sweaty. There’s a “beloved DJ roster” that rotates but often features favourites from past events. I especially like DJ Lakshmi’s “sweaty bhangra,” but there’s music to satisfy most people’s dance tastes: R&B, Top 40 remixes, hip hop, house, funk, electronic soul, and some other genre blends that I don’t even understand.

Each Denim Vest has a kind of theme. The last edition, which happened at the height of Pride season in the summer, was “Sweet Resistance,” with an emphasis on the idea of queer solidarity and Pride as political. The upcoming event on October 1st is a celebration of femmes called “The Party That Femmes Built.” The femme-centric theme is in honour of the fact that Denim Vest, in the words of the organizers, “wouldn’t be what it is without the love, support, and physical and emotional labour that femmes have put towards our queer sweaty dance party/much less the fabric of life.”

Sweet Resistance, Denim Vest’s Last Party / Image by Jessalyn Frances Lemay

Sweet Resistance, Denim Vest’s Last Party / Image by Jessalyn Frances Lemay

If you’re in the mood to dance, and you want a safe, accepting, radical environment, there’s no better place to go than Denim Vest. One of the things I love about it is how truly anti-oppressive and open of a space it is. It’s one of the few LGBTQ+ events in Vancouver where I can bring my male partner and not have to worry about biphobia. It truly is an event open to all genders and gender presentations, while being queer-centred. Denim Vest is also very vocal about being a trans-inclusive space; for them that especially means “if you’re not in solidarity with trans women and trans feminine people, then our party isn’t for you.”

In addition to its trans-positive values, Denim Vest is also committed to other anti-oppressive work. At every event, they donate 1$ for each song that’s credited to a black artist to a Black Solidarity Fund “towards working with queer black DJs to run DJ workshops for aspiring black DJs living on Coast Salish homelands.” Every edition of the party has sliding scale entry fees, with no one turned away for lack of funds.

There’s no better place to party and spend your hard-earned money. Check out their facebook event for more info. I’ll see you on the sweaty dance floor!

Casey Stepaniuk is a writer and librarian-in-training who runs the website Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian, where you can find LGBTQ+ Canadian book reviews and a queer book advice column. She also writes for Book Riot. Find her on Twitter: @canlesbrarian

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