A series of joyful, radical and accessible queer sober dance parties are set to take place in Birmingham for the first time this summer! MOBILISE are sober dance parties produced by Fatt Projects and presented by the Birmingham 2022 Festival created to empower people to dance, take up public spaces, feel confident and celebrate themselves – with a particular focus on trans, disabled, PoC, fat and other marginalised bodies.
The dance parties, led by artist and activist Adam Carver aka “Fatt Butcher” (they/them), take place at The Exchange in Birmingham every month between now and September with the first one on Saturday, 25 June, and culminate in a large-scale co-devised public protest performance which will lead the iconic 2022 Birmingham Pride Parade on 24 September.
“We are so overjoyed to be able to create this project here in Birmingham”, said Carver. “Dance floors have always been essential spaces for LGBTQ+ communities, they have often been the only places we have felt safe to meet one another and celebrate ourselves. MOBILISE is about ensuring that our city has a queer dance space that prioritises accessibility in the widest sense possible and provides a much needed sober environment for people to come together and experience the transformative power of dancing together as a community. MOBILISE is a space of joy, a space of power, and a space of resistance and we are extremely proud to get to work with this incredible team of artists and community members to make it a reality.”
Building on the historical significance of dance floors as LGBTQ+ meeting places, MOBILISE takes the form of a silent disco allowing participants to disconnect from the immediate outside to dance more freely.
In the summer of 2020, Fatt Projects undertook a public consultation with LGBTQ+ community members in Birmingham and a series of conversations with local community organisations and leaders. The outcomes of this consultation have shaped MOBILISE, and particularly allowed every detail to support a positive experience to be thought of, from a separate, quiet room available to anyone feeling overwhelmed, changing places and accessible, and gender-inclusive bathrooms, changing rooms for those who prefer to get into their party clothes on site, and a special taxi fund to help with safe travel to and from the venue.
Alongside MOBILISE sober parties, a team of twenty-five queer artists will work with a recruited LGBTQ+ community dance ensemble of up to 50 participants to create a once-in-a-lifetime processional protest performance which will lead the 2022 Birmingham Pride Parade on 24 September, marking the first time ever the Parade is led by a group of performers. It will be an act of collective resistance, mobilising the bodies into a force for joy and transforming the city into runways and discos, in a riotous act of celebration.
“We’re delighted to be able to support Fatt Projects to make MOBILISE happen as part of the Birmingham 2022 Festival”, said Tim Hodgson, Senior Producer for the Birmingham 2022 Festival. “MOBILISE offers an inclusive, empowering and safe environment to celebrate ourselves and rebuild confidence to take up public spaces. It came out of a clear need identified by LGBTQ+ communities in Birmingham and Midlands and will create a real opportunity to positively support isolated people in the region through extraordinary art. We can’t wait to join the party!”
“When my friend Fatt Butcher told me about this project, I knew I had to be involved, after facing discrimination on my last project due to my disability – I knew I wanted to plough all that energy into making something inclusive and accessible to all”, said Ginny Lemon. “Whilst still being light, fabulous and absolutely stunning. Mobilise to me is a community focused safe space for anyone that doesn’t quite enjoy the hustle and bustle of a club culture but still want to dance they’re asses off! It’s queer, it’s camp and we get to have a fabulous boogie sat on our asses if we want to!”
The first MOBILISE sober social dancing party takes place on Saturday, 25 June at The Exchange with future dates including Saturday, 16 July, Friday, 19 August and Friday, 9 September.
Tickets for the first MOBILISE are now on sale here.
About Fatt Projects
Birmingham-based queer performance company. We make shows, parties, performances, events, and juicy creative bits focused on advancing queer joy.
Our work celebrate queerness, community, care, empowerment, and change-making. It is just as likely to take place in public spaces and contexts where queer identities are underrepresented as it is in conventional theatre spaces.
Fatt Projects Ltd. is a company formed in 2021 to support and grow the creative work of artist, activist and professional hot mess Adam Carver (aka Fatt Butcher), they are artistic director of the company.
We describe our work as “full-fat.”
In Summer of 2020, Fatt Projects undertook a public consultation with LGBTQ+ community members in Birmingham and a series of conversations with local community organisations and leaders. The queer community was asked to provide detailed information about their experiences of dancing, going out, perceptions of their abilities, and diversity monitoring information.
The outcomes of this consultation have been used to shape MOBILISE, and particularly to plan strategies for access and participation for those who experience multiple levels of marginalisation and identified barriers currently stopping them from participating in dance. Some of the core findings included that 82.7% of respondents said they enjoyed social dancing but only 40% said there were public places they felt safe and/or comfortable to go dancing in Birmingham while 41.3% of respondents said they did not feel comfortable going to venues in the gay village. Read more about the consultation here.
The project is supported by a paid Community and Accessibility Steering Group made up of local LGBTQ+ community members to ensure the project prioritises a holistic approach to accessibility: working to ensure the widest possible opportunity for participation regardless of ability, socio-economic status, gender, body types, and race.
Read more on the Steering Group here.
About the Birmingham 2022 Festival
The Birmingham 2022 Festival unites people from around the Commonwealth through a celebration of creativity, in a six-month long programme, shining a spotlight on the West Midlands culture sector.
Running from March to beyond the conclusion of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games in September, the festival aims to entertain and engage over 2.5 million people in person and online.
Delivering over 200 projects across the region including art, photography, dance, theatre, digital art and more the festival will embrace local culture and generate lasting change and a creative legacy beyond the games with funding to community-led projects from Birmingham City Council’s Creative City Grants scheme.
Major support has been dedicated by Arts Council England, The National Lottery Heritage Fund, Birmingham City Council and Spirit of 2012. The Birmingham 2022 Festival is grateful for further support from British Council, Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, National Lottery Community Fund, Canada Council for the Arts, the High Commission of Canada in the UK, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Create Central, Creative New Zealand, UK/Australia Season 2021/2022, and Birmingham 2022 Organising Committee.
To learn more, view the full programme of events or get involved visit: birmingham2022.com/festival.