BY LIZ VON KLEMPERER with PHOTOS BY LEAH BANK
On October 25, Greenpoint’s Good Room was transformed into a femme haven for the second Femmequerade Ball. The mission of the gathering was to both rally against toxic masculinity and honor the divine feminine through music, dance and revelry. In keeping with this philosophy, admission fee was $18 for cis straight white men, and $15 for everyone else.
By 8 p.m. a smog machine puffed ample smoke onto the dance floor, which was illuminated by a glittering disco ball. Pointed witch hats bobbed in the throng as femmes swayed together. Organizers Raechel Rosen and Coral Foxworth flitted around the room, setting the tone by lighting incense and candles.
“Everything came together around the full moon,” Foxworth, also known as FXWRK, says of the planning process. The success of first Femmequerade Ball, which was held on August 18, attracted artists such as Anna Wise, Latasha Alcindor, and more to join forces for the second installment.
Raechel Rosen, who doubles as the lead singer and keytarist of her band Mima Good, got on stage after Yatta Zoker. Raechel beckoned for the crowd to come closer, and began to sing her witchy brand of rock and roll. Her final song, American Finger Trap, featured her signature onstage move: slowly peeling a banana and circumcising it with a pair of scissors. Much of Rosen’s artistic practice is dedicated to combatting rape culture and empowering survivors by through voicing trauma.
“Politically I think it’s fucked up the way that we’re taught to deal with sexual assault in our culture,” Rosen explains. “The victim has this secret to bear. She has to go be in support groups, get therapy and deal with PTSD. People treat it like you’ve caught this sickness and you can’t say who gave it to you. It’s as though it’s your personal secret, where in reality it’s the secret of the assaulter.”
Attendees seeking a brief respite from the high-energy dance floor could dip into Greenroom’s second smaller room. The space was occupied by Catland, a Brooklyn bookstore which supplies spiritual goods such as candles and crystals. Books about the occult were for sale, along with other memorabilia. Catland practitioners were also available to give tarot readings.
Next Latasha Alcindor, also known as L.A., took the stage. She began with a ritual in which she splashed water around the stage and then launched into a spoken word piece about the power of witchcraft and her Caribbean heritage. L.A.’s last song was about her neighborhood, and the all too prevalent phenomenon of gentrification.
“I’ve never played this in front of anyone before,” she confessed to the audience.
“To be honest, it feels odd to sing this song in front of a group of white people. But it’s important, so I’m going to do it.”
The rap was raw and authentic. L.A.’s face knit with a palpable anguish as she sang about the displacement her hometown has had to face. The crowd erupted in applause.
Headliner Anna Wise prefaced her performance by affirming the intention of the event.
“I’m all about this cause,” she said, addressing the crowd.
“This period of time is marked by the uprising of the oppressed,” she continued. “That includes femmes, and it also includes racial minorities.”
Wise’s awareness is in part influenced by her experience working with Kendrick Lamar on his latest album, To Pimp a Butterfly, which she described as one of the most pro black albums of 2015. Wise then launched into her hit songs BitchSlut and Precious Posession. During her last song she hopped off the stage and danced amongst the crowd.
What can we expect of the next Femmequerade? The goal for the series, Foxworth says, is to, “create a space to imagine interaction outside of previous oppressive contexts. It’s also a place to play, because play is a really important and underutilized aspect of social change and activism. That’s why we dressed up. It’s a ball, it’s a spectacle, it’s tapping into an almost childlike energy in all of us, and I think that’s the kind of energy we need to heal.”
Liz Von Klemperer is the author of the unpublished novel Human Eclipse. Liz is a staff writer for Art Report, and has work featured in Autostraddle, Bust, Electric Literature, Luna Luna Mag, Hooligan Mag, and Breadcrumbs Mag. Visit her at lizvk.com.
Leah Bank is a Brooklyn based photographer, possibly from Mars, who enjoys late night cupcake baking and climbing rocks. She has work featured in BUST Magazine, F-Stop Magazine, and American Photography. Find her at www.leahbank.com.