This moment occurred during a time when terror alerts flashed on screens on highway signs and army men pointed rifles along 295, the Baltimore/Washington highway. It was one of those boiling hot Baltimore days as I stepped outside my apartment on the 600 block of Park Ave. I felt the oppressive heat and struggle of the city in approaching that chicken shack on the corner. Always scanning, always aware, in my peripheral I saw a splash of color among the concrete. It was an out of place object.
A large, rainbow painted rock in the middle of the sidewalk pulled me in like a magnet. I held it in my hands and was transported out of time and space. Another human painted this rock and taped a note to it. I can’t remember the exact words but it was an uplifting poem about peace. In that moment I held that rock. I felt a rush of inspiration and love for my city. It felt safe. I felt safe for one second.
That’s when he spoke. A man, tall, white, smiling, in a business suit approached me. “Excuse me, are you male or female?”
With one intrusive question my moment was squashed.
Actually, I was still semi in my euphoric state when I replied but was transitioning over to confusion and awe of his bold sense of privilege in asking me. I said female and he kept walking.
My anger then rose and I started feeling the boiling heat. “Are you happy now?!” I shouted. He turned around with a grin and said “I’m always happy.”
I was afraid and angry. Uncontrollably, I hurled the rainbow rock at him. It nipped the heel of his shoes. He turned around for a quick last glance. I just stood there and stared.
Channeling Creative Pent Up Energy
Explosions Intermediately Placed on Purpose and on Accident
Flying Through Space on the Floor
Sharing Your Light
Mixing Layers of Sensations
Falling Off the Deep End
What good is a memoir if it doesn’t mention a sketchy interaction with a certain nameless celebrity lesbian ? Celes-bian if you will. Well, the answer to that my dearest reader friend, is absolutely no good. There’s no way I could deny this piece of literature one of the most important aspects to a successful, interesting and all consuming memoir. CELEBRITY GOSSIP! So without all further adieu, please enjoy.
In my sixteen-year-old, just came out of the closet, newly introduced to lesbian music mind, I would find a girlfriend just like her. The emotions she conveyed through her songs about the struggle of coming out, living in a homophobic society and desperately loving girls made me fall madly in love with her. Her lyrics about self hatred and suicidal thoughts were what I listened to over and over again to cope, when I felt those things. If someone else felt them, that meant I wasn’t alone and maybe there was hope. I wrote her a long letter telling her this.
Fast forward thirteen years later. Out of the depression, thank god. Pretty much over her music, though I still hold it dear to my heart and will never ever part with the CDs and memories. Word on the street is that she’s going to be at this dance party I’m deejaying in Portland. It’s a big deal because she’s not like a Portland celesbian, she’s an LA celesbian. One of the main differences between the two is that you have to make VIP rooms in your club for the LA celesbian’s crew. I was deejaying this party with my friends deejay Snowtiger and Mr. Charming. We were all excited for this person to come and nervously awaited her arrival. I think we all agreed that it was pretty awkward to try and make the former smoking room, now turned coat room/make out room, into an impressive VIP lounge. Despite the lack of luxury provided, I do think the club went above and beyond to accommodate the incoming celesbs. I mean, it is a homo night in Portland. There isn’t going to be a dance floor paved in gold with Chanel No. 5 scented candles lining the bar. Isn’t part of the lure in coming to the PNW the lax, community vibe and punk rock aesthetic? I don’t think my teenage idol was very impressed with the way queers in PDX throw down.
On the other hand, SJ and I were having the time of our lives. As usual, we always do. If we set our minds to really being in party mode at the club, there’s no other option. We will try to out-fun everyone. I mean seriously, you might as well be home watching reruns of Friends if you’re depressed on the dance floor. In all honesty, this time we really didn’t even need to try that hard because this party was bumpin’. For real. Packed dance floor, attractive people and hella beats. We were on a weekend Portland get-a-way and I was getting paid to party. Dream life!
As you could imagine, everyone noticed when the celesbian crew came in. It was time. What were they gonna do? Who were they gonna talk to? How are they gonna dance? Maybe I’ll buy her a drink. All of these thoughts raced through my mind, but mainly I was thinking that I was kinda glad it wasn’t my turn to deejay while she was there. I mean, what if I got too nervous and did something weird like play her songs or something? I don’t know. I just didn’t want to blow it for the famous people. In hindsight, I wish I were deejaying while she was there because maybe she would have liked what she heard, invited me on tour or asked me to play parties for all her famous friends.
Ah, probably not. She was super rude.
It was like we were in high school again. They were the popular kids and we, the whole club, were the losers. Right off the bat, we sensed an air of superiority. After they came in and paraded through the crowd, we cringed as they peeped their less than luxurious VIP lounge. With looks of disapproval, hesitancy and drinks in hand, they headed to the dance floor. SJ and I were posted up in front of the DJ booth, while Mr. Charming was spinning. Like I said, we were gettin’ it because we love to dance and have fun in the club. No matter what snooty, egotistical celesbian had to say about it. So there we were, killin’ it with our moves to our favorite kinda music to dance to together. Hip Hop. We noticed their cheerleader looks of “ew”, as they limply lingered in the middle of the dance floor. Bopping their heads sarcastically. Out of control eye rolls. Then, out of no where, none other than my teenage dream comes be-lining towards us. She has a drink in her hand and a giant smile, which I totally love but can’t tell if she’s going to say something nice or mean. Either way, it’s about to happen. Why did she pick us? Does she think I’m cute? Is it because we are having the most fun? Most likely, it’s that last one. Anyway, she taps SJ on the shoulder, puts her head in close to say something and satirically states the unthinkable. “Do you know who sings this song?” Without a split second to think about it, SJ confidently replies “Ine Kamoze”. And that was it. A look of anti-climactic confusion came across the celesbian. We smiled at her and kept dancing. She walked away and we couldn’t believe that SJ got to say two words to old fancy face, and that those two words were INE KAMOZE. We still randomly text each other Ine Kamoze. It’s just so funny. It’s a funny word to say as your only words to one of your heroines.
What made it uncomfortable and feel bad is that her tone caused it to sound more like, “Do you EVEN know who sings this song?” Like she was asking us why the hell were we having such a gay ol’ time. Maybe she was challenging us. It’s possible that she just wanted to grace us with her presence and say something snarky. Maybe she hated the song and was making fun of the DJ or us for dancing. I don’t know. Immediately after that interaction, the celesbian crew took off. They were there for a total of 20 minutes. I told Mr. Charming what happened and I think her reaction was probably that of a laugh and one of those vulgar jerk off hand motions. Whatevs!
My oldest memory of bromance is from this one time when I was walking down Madison street on Capitol Hill in Seattle, eatin’ a cheeseburger. It wasn’t like, a cheeseburger from Dicks or Burger King. I made this cheeseburger at home, grabbed it to go, put on my headphones and headed downtown. I don’t even remember if I was going anywhere, but I bumped into DJ General Meow and he just cracked up. He was all, “Are you for real just walkin’ down the street, eatin’ a cheeseburger?”. I said, “Yes, I am”, and we chilled on the corner for a second. After we both realized we had the day off, we decided to go to his house across the street to DJ and play Sega. He had one turntable, with a rubber band holding it together, that was hooked up to a two channel mixer, a speaker and an RC cable for our Ipods. He had more than I did!
On that day, General Meow declared to me, that we had boi love. B.O.I. Love. It’s not what you think. We really just connected on a level that was related to a vulnerable place in both of our hearts, minds and situations. Besides a love for deejaying, we talked about our gender identity. He was in the middle of transitioning from female to male. I was experiencing gender dysphoria, and didn’t know which way I was headed. I could be a girl. I could be a boy. I could be in the middle, both or neither. The identity and label were up in the air, with no grasp on the ground. Floating, adapting, surviving and connecting to other like minded individuals. Walking through the world in a body that is not easily distinguished between male or female by the general population, can be dangerous and disorienting. People are not nice on the street, at work, at school and in the real world. Being that it’s such a life changing and challenging experience to go through, we needed more support. It was decided that we would have a similar meeting at his place again, with Sega and Deejaying. Which by the way, I firmly believe that turning down the sound on video games while listening to music and destroying zombies , fighting ninjas or rolling up office supplies and farm animals into a giant ball, is one of the finer ways to spend an afternoon with a friend. The next time we met up, instead of it just being the two of us, we invited more of our friends who were going through the same thing so that we could have a community. About eight people showed up to General Meow’s apartment that next week and Bromance blossomed. Not only did we talk about our struggles with our identities, support each other, listen to our stories and create activism, we took turns sharing some sick beats.
At Bromance gatherings, we connected on an emotional level and on a musical level. We all wanted to deejay or perform out. DJ’s Status Apparatus, Evalish, FrankenHeart, Riff-Raff, Res, Valentine and Distractor began banning together, like a crew. We collectively practiced, played parties/clubs, shared information about shady promoters and getting paid all around Seattle. We had each others backs on that last one, for real. Deejaying is not an easy job when it comes to getting paid. Party promoters can be shady people. In most cases, if they can get away with not paying you, they’ll try. I’ll get back to this part later.
On to the linguistic evolution of bromance. The word bromance eventually transferred into deejay jargon. To bromance, while deejaying, meant that two of us would play at the same time. We would go song for song, or every two songs. So, the bromance was in the transition. Literally. Going one for one is awesome because you never know what the other person is going to play. It’s like a bonus round in a video game after you’ve already beat the boss. A more challenging level of the game, that you don’t get to play very often. It’s special. Your partner could take it to a place, you would never have imagined possible. A good place. One that you want to go back to. It’s also very possible that you may never want to go back there again, but it’s still the reason you came. It’s the rush. In that short time their song lasts, you have to find the next jam. You don’t want to bring the party down because everyone will know it was you who played that weird song after your partner brought it. It’s really that element of wanting to match or one up the last song, that I enjoy. The “Ohhhhhh!” you’re friends make after you boot that new bass line up. You took them there and did something magical, collectively with someone who has your back in the world. This DJ set is nothing like any set you’ve ever played before, or will ever play again. It’s bromantic.
The sounds we shared and connected to were healing in that they gave us a creative outlet during a very sensitive, and scary time of self identity discovery. Through getting together and collaborating, we learned that all of us had differences in music preference, but immaculate style and taste. In fashion and music, our sets would always compliment each other. As a whole, the music that bromance consisted of was Bmore Club, Hip Hop, House, Electro, Electronica, Disco, Pop, Rock, Riot Grrrl, Top 40, Soul, R&B, 80’s, New Wave, Punk and pretty much anything gay. While we don’t regularly meet anymore and some of us have moved out of Seattle, I think all of us hold that time and place of bromance dear to our hearts. Evolution of comfort in identity and transformation of music has occurred. In a city that gets slack for not having a supportive or strong enough queer community, we founded it. It truly existed and was there for us. I feel triumphant and prideful because I got to be a part of that process. The process wasn’t easy, but the growth and knowledge received throughout the struggle is what it was all about. I am forever thankful that I was able to find safety in my Seattle community and empowerment through the queer DJ collective, Bromance.
Bromance Set List 9/25/08 @ Wildrose in Seattle, Washington
Bmore Free vs. General Meow
We Are Your Friends- Simian/Justice Lee Cabrerea’s Lower East Side MIX
Electric Fuel(Justice remix)- MGMT
You Make Me Like Charity- The Knife
Needy Girl- Chromeo
Helicopter Wierd Science Rmx- Bloc Party/Peaches
Bucky Done Gun- M.I.A.
Shake- Ying Yang Twins
Oh Yea!- Daft Punk
Promiscuous- Nelly Furtado
Big Pimpin’- Jay Z
In Da Samba Club- 50 cent/Zito Right
It’s My Party- Cobra Krames
Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin- MJ
Oh Sheila- Cosmo Baker RMX
Let’s Make Love and Listen to Death From Above- CSS/DIPLO rmx
Someone Great- LCD Soundsystem
Thuggish Ruggish Bone- DJ COPY
Naggin’- Ying Yang Twins
Buy You a Drink- DJ SEGA
The way I are BMORE MIX- Hear Nu Evil
Frenchie Act a Fool!- ATRAK
Egypt, Egypt- Egytian Lover
We Want Some Pussy- 2 Live Crew
Two of Hearts- Stacy Q
A Mili- Lil WAYNE
Cars that Go Boom- Tigra & Bunny
Aint no fun- Snoop
Play - David Banner
Touch My Body- Mariah Feat Rick Ross rmx
It’s like that -EMC2
Smack That- AKON
Me, Myself & I- DE LA SOUL
Photo by: Andrea Pickens
I remember the exact moment I first heard Dig Me Out by Sleater-Kinney. I was on a road trip with my parents and a sophomore in high school. I was in love with my best friend Krystal who was not gay but totally gay for me. She tortured me with her flighty here one day gone the next Libra lust. We were girlfriends behind closed doors but she also had a boyfriend. He gave her some mix tape that she made a copy of and gave to me. Who does that? I listened to the tape and hated thinking about him making it for her and even worse I hated that I liked some of the songs.
Besides the random bands like The Ocean Blue, Lotion and The Drag that were on that mix tape most of my friends liked Christian Ska. That music was kinda fun and stuff but…oppressive to my newly found lesbian identity. I needed something new. Living in a Maryland suburb was not going awesome by any means. I knew one day I would escape my over protective parents grip and take off to Baltimore or D.C., but at this moment, I was in a wood paneled mini-van traveling to South Carolina to see some relative I had never heard of.
A depressed teenager with a giant secret, I definitely couldn’t pretend like I was having fun on the trip. I found myself awake after everyone else went to sleep searching the internet. It was the AOL chat room days. I was searching for anything that would connect me to more information about lesbians. I wanted to connect with a person, ask them for advice, and find resources. ANYTHING. I found some website, found a chat room but it ended up still feeling lonely. I closed out the window and my stomach dropped. There was a giant pink triangle icon on the desktop now. I hadn’t realized that my random South Carolinian relative could FIND OUT what I was looking at. I put the icon in the trash but then went back to the website for more obsessive searching. The same thing happened again with the icon. I threw it out again. Enough was enough. I had to give up. More fear to add to my brain. Now I was sure I would be found out. I feared that in a few weeks my parents would get a call, my life would be ruined.
The only good thing that came from that trip was when I found myself in a record store. I wandered around the shelves and made my way to the “S” section. I found Sleater-Kinney. Just by looking at the cover I knew something was different about this trio. Maybe it was the slightly deviant look in Janet Weiss’ eyes on the cover. Maybe it was the colors or the text. Whatever it was it spoke to me without even hearing the sounds. I had this in my hand along with another CD. I had to choose between the two. I think the other one was The Mr. T Experience. Also a good choice but totally not what my soul needed at the moment. After looking back and forth, back and forth at the two choices, I bought Dig Me Out. I did the excited fight with the cellophane in the van and popped it in my disk man.
Gazing out the back seat and heading home from an awkward family trip, the opening sounds of Dig Me Out sent me away from the hell hole of homophobic family and closeted girlfriends to the euphoric bliss of riot grrrl and feminist fury. In that moment I was connected and just a little bit freer. One More Hour, Turn it On, The Drama You’ve Been Craving…as each song went on my heart pounded and I listened harder and harder. The headphones I was listening to made it so that Corin was in one ear and Carrie the other. My eyes were widening. I wanted to jump up and down and cry and scream. I was still in the back seat of my parents mini-van. I was still a depressed teenager with a giant secret. I was still a double Scorpio with a capricious girlfriend. I was still all these things making it impossible to move or not look like a miserable lump but at least now inside something was stirring.
Look what just came in the mail! Our first EP ever. It’s All Gonna Break in CD format can be obtained THIS FRIDAY Sept 13th @ Barboza. We go on at 7:30 PM with Dust Moth and Gibraltar to follow. This show is a KEXP audioasis community event net proceeds to benefit Rain City Rock Camp for Girls.