Diary Entries

Article headline Meet The Cookies #001: Andrew Ryce

04 April, 2021

Meet the Cookies #001:

Andrew Ryce

Andrew Ryce is one of those names that will stick with you whether you know who he is or not. When I first met Andrew a few years ago, he struck me as aloof, serious, and a little bit cut-throat. After getting to know Andrew over time, I can attest that he is hardly anything of my first impression; he is a reserved person by nature, and while not shy, he has a shy-like demeanor, and like most of us, Andrew prefers the company of puppies to that of other humans.

A Vancouver native, he was already writing about the dance music scene before he could even get into public events. His journey to becoming a full-time music writer was one of serendipityand seeking opportunities. Starting out on a friend’s blog, he moved to writing for FACT Magazine where he further built his portfolio and finally decided to cold email RA who invited him to write for them part-time while he was a college student.

After graduation, “FACT Magazine offered me a job to work in...Canada as their North American guy while I was still in school. And so then RA made a counteroffer, and hired me and created a position for me as the first North American staff writer. And so I was going to school full time and working...full time and that's how I got started.”

Now a staple in the electronic music reviewing scene, Andrew sees that with his influence comes a responsibility to use his platform to elevate the voices of those who don’t have the finances and power behind them. Be they undiscovered artists on Bandcamp or musicians of color long overdue for celebration, he has tried to use every power he has in the scene to create positive change.

The pandemic “feels like a major loss of a network for the community”

When the pandemic hit, Andrew’s life abruptly changed. “A big part of my life was traveling around, going to the different offices for work, and in that, interacting with different scenes, going to venues, you know—I have a good network of friends around the world through music,” he says. It all came to a halt when travel was restricted and events were canceled.

He explained, “all that's taken away. So it feels like a major, like, loss of a network for the community. I'm still friends with these people, but I no longer see them all the time. So it makes it feel kind of abstract.” That abstract feeling has carried over through to him experiencing new music. Besides walks and sitting at his desk, he has no other context to consume music. “We're a year into there not being clubs...dance floors and most places in the world, [it] feels very strange,” he reflected.

But he also recognized that on a personal level, it hasn’t been all bad. “If there's a silver lining, I feel like a forced break from partying is probably a good thing...I feel much healthier.” He continued, “it was nice to have a few months of like, not doing any drugs or not like drinking alot. And lie having weekends where I could get up and do something in the morning.”

Despite the crisis, Andrew is “amazed that people are pumping out so much great music”

When asked about his friends in the community Andrew was pensive. He shared that his friends “are fucking depressed” and that it’s hit them hard financially and psychologically. Despite all the canceled gigs and disconnection from fans in person, the scene pushes on and from home studios, people continue to create their art. He’s “still amazed that people are pumping out so much great music. It's kind of mind-boggling to think about.”

Inequities are still a huge problem in electronic music, but in his eyes, it has “come a long way in terms of social justice and inclusivity”

When Andrew first started out he saw that there was essentially no queer visibility in the scene. To the extent they were included, “gay people were seen only as Top 40 queens, that kind of vibe,” not as integral to the whole community. He says, “I think there were a lot of decisions, conscious or unconscious, being made by people to exclude other people who were gay, or who were not white, when I first started navigating the dance music scene.”

As a white gay man he hasn’t experienced any extreme discrimination outside of what he calls “random homophobia,” but he recognizes he lives with privilege as a music writer everyone is trying to please and impress. With respect to race, the story is more complex. In his experience, clubs and parties are often segregated, and door policies and venue security are often notoriously racist, especially in the US and Canada.

But there’s a growing awareness of, and pushback against, this kind of discrimination. From a journalistic perspective RA, the publication Andrew belongs to, recently celebrated 120 Black artists in electronic music. Andrew says, “I understand the necessity of striving to have a balanced and diverse output—you have to look at things critically. At RA, what I'm in charge of,and what I deal with, we are trying to reform it. I help run a review section now where I’m focusing on developing young writers, and especially young writers of color and Black writers.” This may not put an end to racism in the industry, but it is a step in the right direction and part of a web of actions that must continue.

Since electronic music has a global following, overseas readers are witnessing the racial reckoning happening in the US. Andrew shared that “there's another portion of the scene, primarily Europeans, that don't think this is a problem at all, and they say they're sick of hearing about it. Which is bullshit obviously, but it's a perspective that exists. So it's an interesting balancing act, because... of course all these platforms are not doing enough. But for some readers, they don't want the platforms to try at all. Dance music isn't one crowd or community. It's not a monolith. There's parts of it that we'd probably like to pretend don't exist—but they do.”

On artists changing their names, Andrew sees it as “a hollow gesture if you're not going to follow it up with anything else”

There has been a wave of artists in many genres, including dance DJs, changing their names that have been called out as inappropriate or problematic. Andrew feels “with some people it should have been done a while ago, you know, but obviously, last year put the reality in everyone's face.”

But he recognizes that ultimately “it's also kind of a hollow gesture if you're not going to follow it up with anything else. And will it have a significant impact? I do think that in terms of the bigger DJs, like, let's say, Blessed Madonna, it will have an impact ...[on] people who are involved in the dance scene on a more surface level [and] are not familiar with social justice and racial issues, they might think about it a little bit more, or at least be aware of it. But I don't think it's some heroic act.”

We still have a long way to go in the dance music scene when it comes to inclusivity and representation

When asked why Black DJ’s and their careers were thriving and headlining more raves than regularly in the midst of the pandemic and national crises, Andrew had this to say; “I think there was a collective awakening that happened during the pandemic, both because of the importance of mutual aid and support in the wake of unprecedented economic ruin, and because of the conversations and ripple effects of the George Floyd protests and the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement. Discussions became more frank and many platforms immediately tried to rectify past mistakes by supporting Black artists in a much more concerted and deliberate way than before, some better than others. It shouldn't have taken a tragedy and international outrage to get there, but it's happening now.”

Furthermore, he thinks “this sudden shift and cruel irony—Black artists getting more attention than ever when the music industry is essentially at a standstill—shows that we still have a long way to go in the dance music scene when it comes to inclusivity and representation. It should have already been better. But I also think it shows how strong and adaptable the dance music scene is—the conversations among dance music artists, fans and industry workers seem to be miles ahead of other comparable music scenes or genres. I hope that we can keep the energy going to nurture and platform Black, trans and other marginalized artists with real material support—particularly gigs—once the industry starts resurfacing around the world.”

“The whole underground dance music scene... has been through a major reckoning in the past year”

On the topics of queer inclusion and race, Andrew is seeing the scene wake up to what marginalized people have known all along. He feels like “the whole underground dance music scene, whatever you classify that, as has been through a major reckoning in the past year, but we haven't had the chance to even put any ideas to actually be back together because the gatherings are not allowed to happen in most places.”

A consequence of the pandemic we’ve all heard about is the possibility of smaller venues closing their doors permanently. Andrew observes, “by the time things are back to normal, which leaves only the biggest of the big-money clubs, or promoters or conglomerates that that own property and can afford to still have it, they're in charge, and then everything becomes much worse because everything is driven by money even more than it used to be. But, you know, that has its own knock-on effect of pushing things further underground, which could be a good thing, because then it does create more of a sense of shared accountability and responsibility.”

No one knows for sure what the future holds for small independent venues and the cultures they foster, both good and bad. “Not all clubs are great, or run by nice people, or are worth saving by virtue of the fact that they are clubs. A lot of clubs have very sketchy business practices,” he noted.

“RA has given a lot of ad space away for free, including to charities or clubs doing fundraisers. So that's one example of what an organization can do in the context of all of this.” He continued, “I've noticed a new spirit of teamwork between festivals and promoters, publications, agencies, clubs. Everyone wants everyone else to survive... I don't think anyone is secretly hoping that everything falls apart.”

“I've just made it my mission in the past few years to push a lot of younger artists”

Andrew knows the power of his writing. As he explains it, “I've written about a few DJs that are quite big after.” RA had to change some of their publishing choices to counteract excessive DJ fees the more famous artists were demanding. They used to publish a poll each year that became the DJ list. He says, “we had to stop it because DJs and agencies were reassessing and planning their fees around where they would place in the list, it got very politicized. And the impact of this was so outsized. If you got to the top 5, you could probably raise your fee by like, 10 to 15 grand next year. No one wants to be responsible for that. Except maybe the DJs. So we made a decision to put a stop to it.”

To act as a counterbalance to that, Andrew says, “I've just made it my mission in the past few years to push a lot of younger artists, including artists with like, only 100 followers or something, or if it's their first release.” Understanding that great music can come from anywhere in this world, “I've [spread] it geographically like trying to cover music from everywhere, not just Europe, and the US.”

Offering one possible solution, “I think there needs to be quotas in place. They can be flexible, but they should exist. Publications must be aware of who and what they're covering and how they can improve it to make it more diverse. It's not that hard.”

DJs playing during the pandemic is “a tricky thing”

Put simply, Andrew says, “I don't know if there should be a "shitlist" of DJs playing gigs during the pandemic. But I think if, you know if you're traveling to Mexico playing gigs for rich people, that says it all—maybe they're not really part of the scene, not a part of the community that we wish to create. You're just a rich person who has more money and no scruples.”

Andrew believes venues need to develop a code of conduct for safety

On the issue of safety at raves and festivals, Andrew had a few concrete ideas for how to improve on the status quo. “So whether that's drug testing...[or a] medic on-site, that kind of thing, overdose training, all that stuff. That’s... the one of the biggest issues for underground events.”

There’s also a financial restructuring that needs to go along with structural changes. He is troubled by “the reliance on venues and festivals and gatherings on alcohol and the sale of alcohol. And I'm not sure what the solution is. But I think that if there was a way for more festivals and gatherings to become less dependent on the sale of alcohol, and sponsorship from alcohol, that would be a very positive thing.” He concluded, “if you're gonna have a really strong gathering that is about culture, and community, it needs to move away from just being a bar.”

In the other sense of safety, Andrew says he’s “been to so many things in LA where most of the scene is in warehouses where I felt very unsafe... not enough exits, way too packed, you know, there's no ventilation.” He believes that “people need to become more aware and accepting of safety guidelines and not seeing them as a vestige of corporate culture.” He believes the whole scene would be better off if “basic safety standards were made more obvious and accessible, and published somewhere and agreed upon, almost like some kind of code of conduct.”

“I definitely don't run out of people or things to write about”

There’s not enough time in the world to check out every electronic musician out there. Andrew doesn’t believe in keeping any great artists a secret. He shared that, “one of my favorites is this guy, Tano out of New York...he's putting out a second record in March.”

Another underrated musician Andrew supports is “[a] guy named Ike Release, he's from Chicago. I've been in contact with him for like, 10 years. And he's like a Chicago staple that not enough people pay attention to. He put on an amazing record last year, and I didn't get to write about it. And he sent me a new EP, and I want to make more of an effort to support him this year because I think his music is really special. He doesn't get covered anywhere.”

Andrew says, “I definitely don't run out of people or things to write about.” He goes on, “I'm always trying to break my established cycles of consuming and I guess researching and acquiring because if I'm only getting my music from the same five websites, or promo companies or whatever, it's, I'm not going to find anything new. So one of one of my priorities is always challenging myself. And, you know, sometimes just spending like, a few hours on Bandcamp looking through random stuff, to see if I find anything cool.”

“Dance music offers some kind of solace and community”

To define any community is challenging. In terms of finding his own sense of belonging, Andrew says, “Community is a tricky word, and I don't know if it has any easy definition. I've hardly ever felt like I belonged anywhere, though I've found certain pockets of dance music where I've been like, okay, these people get me, or think about things the same way as me, I like them.”

However, he knows his experiences are atypical because “I've also only been involved in the scene as a "journalist," someone who observes, reports, and critiques, so while I am definitely part of the ecosystem, I don't always feel as embedded in every community I encounter (nor do I think I should be).”

He takes a stab at defining the entire electronic community; “as for what community is in dance music terms—well, it's tempting to say there is a global community, but I'm not sure that's true. There are so many nodes and factions, many of which are opposed to each other or exist completely outside of each other. As a whole, dance music is made up of a patchwork of communities that exist side-by-side to make something beautiful—smaller scenes prioritized on nurturing each other, fostering mutual aid, and having a space (or place) to express themselves.”

“But I think for a lot of people, dance music offers some kind of solace and community, particularly at the DIY level, and I've always admired the smaller, tight-knit communities I've encountered in dance music.”


On The Cookie Record #002: Don Esquivel

24 July, 2020

on the cookie record #002:

Don Esquivel

Click Here for Don Esquivel’s Soundcloud

Don Esquivel is a DJ and producer from Michoacán, Mexico who’s been fermenting in Mexico’s underground scene for over 10 years. Don’s passion for music began at a very young age when he heard some global underground CD mixes that his older sister often used to purchase.

He immediately knew that he wanted to be part of that world after he saw all the rave photographs and the feeling the pleasure the sonics brought to his ears.

He decided to pursue a solid career in DJing and learned how to produce music when he graduated from college, pre-his collision with the queer underground scene and community. When Don finally crossed paths with Por Detroit, his life changed; Don finally found his haven, a place where he could be himself, feel validated, and more pressingly, listen to music he adored throughout his entire life.

We asked Don if he could travel back in time, and if he had to pick a year to be trapped in forever, he responded, “1997 or 1998, when electronic music was really at the prime of its development in a wide variety of sub-genres, and (my favorite) the most iconic house bangers came to arise during that period.” Don also shared with us what he thought was the most under-rated sub-genre, that he’d like to see make a comeback, “I think lounge and chill-out music needs to make a comeback, I’d love to see more electronica and chill-out rooms in our modern-day raves.”

For On The Cookie Record #002, Don Esquivel recommends his top three records which have inspired him and made a significant impact on his musical productions.

Flux Like Me by ANNA COOK

Anna Cook was a DJ and producer from Chile, concentrated on raw hardware house music productions, with only a few releases, one for Art Room Records, a label from Aguascalientes, México, and the other for 100% Silk. This EP has three great raw house tunes, one of my favorites to be ‘Ice Mag Dich’, released in 2017 before her murder which occurred under strange circumstances, her death is still under investigation and most likely related to her sexual orientation. #justicaparaannacook


This is the first album released by the Argentinian Duo in 2004, Versatil? is an LP with 11 tracks of different moods, some songs are great for sing-a-longs like “Dios en la disco” (my favorite track of the album) or “Perfecto Radar,” this album is a perfect example of great execution and curation between the genres of House and Techno-Pop.


This track was a hidden gem on Latin music blogs since 2010 or ’11, if I’m not mistaken, until it was released by the label Huntleys & Palmers in 2014 with a great remix by the Argentinian artist, Ana Helder. The original song is still one of my favorite Latin house tracks ever, a great song to sing with your friends on the dance floor and is a lovely, energetic track by the Chilean artist.

Don Esquivel’s musical genres are house-and techno-oriented, with three EPs released, his most recent release for MuyMuy Limited. You can purchase and listen to Don’s EPs via his Bandcamp embedded below.


30 April, 2020

Maddening Solidarity:

The Economy of Dance and the Body as a Free Form Tool in the Structure of Time and Doom

Bossa Nova Civic Club in Brooklyn | Courtesy of Bossa Nova Civic Club

Clubs and sanctuaries where we find comfort and refuge throughout the globe are shut down due to COVID-19, also known as coronavirus or as we like to call it “Miss Rona.” Why have we adopted that name? It’s because we are trying to make light out of a dark situation.

As we know, NYC attracts people for all different reasons, nightlife chief among them. Whether you’re going out to dance and party or you’re working in nightlife, you’d see that artists within the underground techno queer nightlife like to take themselves very seriously and for good reason. We are putting our bodies on the line for people to see. We show up, dress up, and speak up to express reason, not just in nightlife, but in the creases of the everyday connection.

There is some kind of coven in the rave that raises light in differences as to say: I accept you no matter how you dress, how you speak or how you dance. There is no judgment other than to raise humility and awareness to take care of our bodies and our limitations on how we set them free in any place we can modulate, musicians expressing our passion to release that distance people want to close.

How do I explain that today is the International Transgender Day of Visibility and all I hear is silence in the streets, where we usually celebrate the beauty and facets of our differences in our appearance and demeanor? Mainstream culture rejects us, so we made a culture all our own, and with that, this is all owed to transqueer artists. They are paving the way for people all around the world to listen and create an alternative form of releasing distance and territory that many don’t get to express during the day and during this cold winter/spring Covid adaption. It’s in the spaces that we share in our clubs in NYC, Berlin and all the way to Taipei that make us ravers feel free to be ourselves and feel paid attention to.

Everyone that I know in nightlife is kind of going crazy right now because we can’t celebrate with each other. I may have seen you before, and I might not even remember you the next night, because that’s how many we are. It’s not your face I remember, but your vibe and what you are emitting with your body for you and us to sink our pleasure into an environment so all who come should feel safe.

Wilde Renate in Berlin | Courtesy of AP Photo, Markus Schreiber

With the clubs closed, we’ve turned to social media, podcasts and live streams. They have become the only way we can reach each other. I party in my bedroom and living room now, trying to make sense of what’s missing and it’s a night club and how we are constantly breaking conventions to set our ideals for the daytime world as well. We release we talk and create, aiming at defusing any uncomfortable feelings you may or may not have within.

Dance is any and everywhere. There is a privilege because I’ve trained myself in movement as a science and kinesthetic. For the dark-lit bass-breathing body-heating dance warehouse is where many like myself go to lose the inhibition of everyday scrutiny and judgment, to forget having to be a worker on top of an artist on top being looked at differently because of our personal particularités; none of which will ever stop us because there is space for many to express on and through their bodies what happens in nightlife. This is a perception in territory and where in our architecture we crave to be underground. Closer to the core maybe?

Nowadays in Brooklyn | Courtesy of Nowadays

Shaping space in dedication to art and performance and just internal releases, I want to understand how a virus we didn’t expect to become such a global tragedy is shaping us and making us realize how unprepared the world was to stay inside and to stay away from each other — exactly the opposite goal of what nightlife is supposed to achieve. Partying is all about the body, romance, sensuality, sexuality and now there is no space to reinvent our tragedy but to only watch it pass right by through our windows.

But I find myself in solidarity with my friends, family and fellow artists around me in NYC through live streaming performance; Now the body is at home and there is much to invent. We all have the chance to show the world how together we truly are by pushing through our doom and our imperfection to call out to our neighbors in a different way. Bodies are coming together through forced separation. We are showing each other that we know how to listen and how to work together by staying so far apart.

Within dance, there is the idea of vanity. One that pushes an angst to ideas of freedom. There is particularity the motion that sets freedom to limitations of mind. The air I breathe is the movement I set free. I am the obstacle. We are divulging into the rhythm. Once the movement is set free there is limitation to what one can do with the body. Ideas at large say to create form, a linear beginning and ending with the body’s motions as a story. The idea is the framework for form and identity. What does our story consist of? Happiness, burden, freedom, laugher, vanity, the solution is the comedy.

The story is henceforth a majestical enterprise of a technicality that lies on the spectrum of the illusion — the illusion we are truly alive during the dance. The body is laughing at itself in creating an idea of the story because we are barred and set by the limitations of our own lives that the only gift to give is atonement for even starting the motion for this particularity of the body’s story in motion is selfish. We cannot truly see outside of ourselves, although it seems as such in the verbalization of the context or content of the movement, the communication with the outside world is still in context to ourselves. That is the darker side we must laugh at. We applaud because we recognize the story we are able to identify within our lives. We are in awe because we see “Yes! That is me,” I understand that body. But in the humility of our lives, if we cannot laugh at our doom, we will be terrified into a throat wrenching fear of misunderstanding for our own demise.

The body launches the ideas of freedom of movement unparalleled to none. We applaud because we are laughing in hysteria for the brevity in the body and knowledge of the performer to be able to communicate an acquired gluttonous action for the summation of the ideas of life and its feats and perils. The action of movement requires a close study of the ideas of peculiarity and the justice that comes with the cessation of the end of the performance and the resolution for the climax of story communicated.

At large dance is a summation of the territory and that which blocks the heart from happiness. Even in the joyous spring-filled dance, there is an idea of location and territory within the idea that states — where is the joy emerging? In one’s head? Bedroom? Studio? Street? Club? Underwater? The idea of territory is set large as a phenomenon of pathos. And lack of space.

Berlin | Courtesy of AP Photo, Markus Schreiber

The body is hence set free inside the limitations that come with despair within the first movement. Freedom here is death and the immobilization of the breath and body temperature of heating it up or coming alive in the spirit, bringing us closer to the end. The end of the story and end of our lives. Dance is comedy. Because, as we bring alive these movements, we are strengthening and weakening our bodies to live longer for what? To dance again and get rid of the pain of the heart the music sets free in our bodies. We are at one with our ending laughing at it in each movement the rhythm of the heart and breath allow. In the midst of our understanding, we are then asked to analyze the ideas of gender and class, ableism, economy and social structure with each movement. There is our voice. Unable to be silenced because outside internal, external notions of freedom.
The body is launching itself to study a case. The case of humanity and why we are here. And it may be one of the compromises for the ideas of brevity in informal settings. Laughter is launched in the spectacle. We have a mission of transmitting the disdain of the mind in a total mass setting. We are free-forme instruments of ideas in this solidarity. How do we perform the lack thereof? We are movement in unison with time structure. Even standing still within the structure of time, there is movement. What ails the aching pains of the heart? Are we ever truly satisfied? Once the body is at rest, we dream. We constantly are in movement. This is why the language we use in the formality of our totality is important in the justification of means. We laugh one after the other to free all our ailments. We reflect madding universal solidarity. For the ideas of life are in the cessation of a free form tool. Us.


Rave Scout Cookies compiled a list of their favorite local NYC venues and platforms with their direct funding channels;

17 July, 2020

on the cookie record #001:

Josh Cheon

To count down the release of our first edition handbook in a month’s time, we’re going On The Cookie Record once a week with our favorite Chief Scouts and we couldn’t think of anyone else other than the faithful vinyl guardian and enthusiast, Josh Cheon, to pop our cookie record cherry.

Josh’s love for records began when he was a young teen in suburban New Jersey, 15 minutes away from New York City, where he spent his weekends dancing and digging for records at the goth club, The Bank. He held internships with Metropolis Records, Beggars Banquet/4AD, Matador, and DFA before moving to San Francisco in 2006. Somewhere along the way during the spring of 2009, he stumbled into a love affair with the underground 80s and that’s when his record label, Dark Entries, was born.

Vinyl-focused DJ and collector established Dark Entries to preserve sound qualities and commemorate the esthetics of artists. Dark Entries release out of print and unreleased underground music and contemporary bands. All their releases are independent 80s DIY record labels. At Fantasy Studios, Dark Entries consigns all their projects with the prolific engineer, George Horn, who re-masters each release with his over 40 years of expertise in the industry.

For our first On The Cookie Record series, Josh shares his top three classics and delivers a delectable review of each record and artist, pledged to escort you back in time to the golden days.

Leather Man by Maxx Man

Maxx Mann were the gay New Wave duo of Frank Oldham Jr (vocals, lyrics) and Paul Hamman (music) from New York City formed in 1981. Frank studied voice and acting at the Herbert Bergdorf School idolizing Eartha Kitt, Nancy Wilson, Johnny Mathis, and Shirley Bassey. Paul was playing piano for a cabaret singer at a bar in Greenwich Village where Frank met him and their friendship began. Paul and Frank worked together 3 to 4 times a week recording their debut self-titled album released in 1982, limited to 500 copies. Songs provide interesting insights into the homosexual experience before the AIDS crisis: cruising backroom bars, BDSM, and one-night stands. The music is “Neo-realistic rock” heavily influenced by punk, titillating, synthesized body and soul with Frank’s dramatized vocal styling. The original press release sent to radio stations stated, “Because this is a completely innovative sound, we hope you will give it several listening. It is adventurous, daring, and certain to cause reactions from your listeners.”

Big Shot by Patrick Cowley

Patrick Cowley is one of the most revolutionary and influential figures in the canon of disco, Cowley created his own brand of Hi-NRG dance music, “The San Francisco Sound.” In 1979 Patrick was contacted by John Coletti, owner of famed gay porn company Fox Studio in Los Angeles. Patrick jumped on this offer and sent reels of his college compositions from the 70s to John in LA. Coletti then used a variable speed oscillator to adjust the pitch and speed of Patrick’s songs in-sync with the film scenes. The result was the VHS collections “Muscle Up” and “School Daze” released in 1979 and 1980. “Afternooners” is the third collection of Cowley’s instrumental songs, recorded between 1979 and 1982. Some of these recordings are demos from the album “Mind Warp”. All songs were originally untitled, so we’ve used the titles from Fox Studio’s 8mm film loops.


Leather Strip is the solo-project of Danish electronic industrial artist Claus Larsen. Influenced by Fad Gadget, Depeche Mode, and Jean Michel Jarre, Claus began creating synth-pop melodies at age 14. Though the melodies were catchy and upbeat, they had a hidden melancholy because Claus knew that he differed from others. “Dreaming” was his first attempt to “come out” to himself as a queer kid.


Article headline
Rave Scout Cookies’ Voyage to the Queer Mecca of all CDMX’s Music Festivals: Backdoor XL

20 March, 2020



by Salman Jaberi

Rave Scout Cookies takes a journey into the orbit of electric-fluidity that fueled Mexico City’s BackDoor XL Queer Art and Music Festival last month

Backdoor XL, Courtesy of Bruno Destombes

A journey into the orbit of electric-fluidity, one that is quite unfathomable and rarely attainable — — — — This kind of robust spirit energy will only rise once in a queer moon and at specific times of the year, such as the summer in Whole United and the early stages of the Fall in Honcho Campout. This Queer Utopia that we have come together to build, whether consciously or unconsciously, is one that will go down in history unless the world is first wiped out by its indestructible growth. Finally, I come to discover the ingredients in what makes the selective few gatherings so magical, the underlying reason behind the perseverance, and bound to our subculture and our norms in such world of abnormality; it is oppression and freedom harmoniously coming together for a dance and a kiss that foregrounds the capillary-high-electric energy that fueled the Backdoor XL Queer Art and Music Festival that graced Mexico City last month.

Before we dive into this year’s queer galore, let’s get a little bit into the history of the Festival… Backdoor XL has an eccentric and worldly background. The event started in Vancouver, Canada, back in 2012. Getting the rave started has not always been easy for one of the founding partners, artist Matt Troy, to create a pillar for marginalized people at a time when the world was not able to process the rise and openness of LGBTQ+ culture. At the end of the day, with a good fight and uphold, things worked out for the Festival, which became a staple in the international LGBTQ+ community, with bold hedonism and the slow death of gender-related taboos. This is the third time Mexico City has been hit with the Festival, and it is a very significant event for a bustling global metropolis at a critical moment of change and inclusivity.

Backdoor XL, Courtesy of Bruno Destombes

Organizers Jerren Ronald, Matt Troy, Victor Rodríguez, Daniel Castillo, and Victor Altamirano came together to form a straightforward, self-styled mission statement: “Bridges between the vibrant underground queer of Mexico City and the wider international community.” It is safe to say that the organizers of the Festival were named to achieve that goal. Not only was the Festival populated with an impressive lineup of international artists, but people flocked from all over to attend. What made this occasion so special is that it wasn’t the traditional concept of a festival, where the attendees would’ve been inclined to go to a particular selected space and enjoy some side-attractions.

The structure and concept of the Festival are decentralized in nature, yet also profoundly embedded in Mexico City’s underground, as well as in the local underground scene. What impressed and fascinated me, above all, was the itinerary and location changes. It must not have been easy to coordinate such a decentralized and widespread event in the hustle and bustle of a city like CDMX, but the Backdoor XL team deliberately designed it so delicately and made it an entirely smooth process for everyone to manage and the hard work paid off. It was easy to get around the venues, whether you used it by boarding a party bus or uber rides. It would probably have been much more practical for the organizers to reduce their challenges and hold all their events in one location, particularly given all audiences coming from abroad and some traveling abroad for the first time.

Backdoor XL, Courtesy of Bruno Destombes

The Festival considered the importance of giving a voice to the local community and the organizers ensured each location is adequately mapped and programmed, utilizing various neighborhoods and areas to provide the non-local queer community an opportunity to explore and discover the beauty and delights of Mexico City instead of being confined to a single space. Events had taken place in various venues and locations. Some of the most memorable events took place in non-traditional spaces, warehouses and abandoned historic buildings, such as Ex-Fabrica, a former wheat factory, and a former prison for female prisoners, Ex-Carcel de Mujeres, and a historic hotel that had been officially designated for out-of-town guests, the Selina, known to be CDMX’s Chelsea Hotel, all reinvented into rave realms — a powerful symbol of a city that is experiencing the wind of change yet remains true to its roots.

What made the atmosphere so beautiful was that even though the attendees were spread out, the overall atmosphere remained consistent throughout the Festival. Better yet, the atmosphere, along with the fashion show, drag shows, and the great sets of some of the most incredible artists and our queer family members on the local and international scene, formed four days of pure bliss.

Personally, this wasn’t my first visit to CDMX. I was accidentally introduced to the Por Detroit raves when I visited the city four years ago. I stayed there for three weeks because I needed to perform a root canal. Since I didn’t have dental insurance when I moved to the US for the first time, doing it in Mexico was a lot more affordable. I can’t remember a moment when I was alone, and without any plans, given that I was visiting alone. The local community took me as their own and showed me everything there was to see and do. With each visit, CDMX surprises me with new experiences, new friends and new sounds.

Backdoor XL, Courtesy of Bruno Destombes

I checked into my room at the Selina Hotel — -the rooms had wide and open windows facing well into the hotels’ inner-square courtyard and close to the other rooms, with the curtains wide open, it was like watching some sort of a version of queer-life simulation of the sims; with views of Aeryn Pfaff frolicking around his room in white socks and a jockstrap, a group of bears sipping and sharing the tea on the bed on the lower floor, I knew I was home and with my queer family.

As they say, third time’s the charm. This novel edition of Backdoor XL in Mexico City undoubtedly brought us a Queer Utopian Playground. Backdoor invited some of the most beloved friends, artists, dance crews, DJs, and performers, boldly aiming to take the Festival to new heights. And quite frankly, judging by the attendees, Backdoor managed to bring a global audience to the city fulfilling their primary mission successfully.

Backdoor XL, Courtesy of Bruno Destombes

During my visit to the Festival, I had the pleasure of meeting some of the sweetest ravers, as well as artists and other visitors who came to CDMX for the special occasion. Someone who even said they had never used their passports until this trip, and it was amazing to see how this Festival became a pivotal moment for so many folks who had the opportunity to experience something new for the very first time.

Organizers Jerren, Matt, and Victor did a remarkable job because the diverse roster brought international exposure to the Festival. In other words, having a number of artists from different regions really did benefit their mission and brought a more excellent representation and painted a fuller picture of the CDMX underground queer community.

According to organizers Jerren R