Posted May 25, 2016 by Cooper Point Journal in Arts & Entertainment
 
 

The Debut of “Free Breakfast Club”

A New Monthly POC Centered Dance Party Starts at Obsidian



By Danny Loose

I’ve been organizing parties in Olympia for well over a year now and throughout my time something has always felt missing from nightlife here. While Friction, B12, Outer Bass, Invokation, and Gay Rodeo are fun events conducive to getting wasted, nightlife in Olympia is suffocatingly white in terms of booking and patronage. Inclusion and diversity are rarely centered in booking nightlife, especially in Olympia, and this really needs to change. Speaking from a position as someone who has participated in organizing nightlife in Olympia, diversity and inclusion are rarely centered within booking nightlife and this needs to be addressed. Luckily, a collective of people of color concerned with creating intentional spaces in nightlife have  introduced a new monthly party at Obsidian by and for people of color called “Free Breakfast Club”, a reference to the the Black Panther’s famous community outreach program “Free Breakfast for Children”. I sat down for a drink with Naíma Noguera-Mujica, Aaron Madison, and Mel Soroka to talk about the upcoming party, Olympia nightlife, and dancefloor politics.

When I asked about the motivation for the party,  Noguera-Mujica told me “None of the parties in olympia personally fit my need.” When playing music while “I’ve been working [at Obsidian] before [I’ve had] people have come up to me while I am working and been like ‘yeah hip hop doesn’t really suit this town, that’s not really the scene here.’ And I’m like ‘what do you mean, because this is a historically white space?’ I think a lot of other people of color in this town aren’t necessarily from here, but speaking from my own perspective, have felt really culturally devoid. Whenever I go back home [to New York City] I’m like ‘oh my god I missed this’… I think there’s really no voice here [for people of color].”

I’ve heard this claim before from people of color: music rooted in black culture, specifically rap music gets contextualized differently when it gets played at Olympia parties in between top 40 music by white DJs: often times exotifying hip hop as a novelty. Aaron described going to a POC centered party in Brooklyn in which most of the patrons were white, seeing a young white boy who “knew every lyric to this Future song, just gettin down…and it’s like people will love what they love however they love it”. Naíma added, “like, of course white people are allowed to come but it’s all about respecting the space.”

During the interview I attempted to tease out some ways in which white people can interact with a party environment space centered around people of color, much of which simply involves being a decent party-goer to begin with: pay cover, don’t invade people’s space/boundaries, and stepping up and using visible privilege to curb any racist transphobic or homophobic actions that gets witnessed, “just be aware of the space you take up,” Aaron clarified.

As for the party itself, the venue was packed, which is very unusual for a wednesday night, people were dressed up (also unusual for an Olympia party), the go-go dancers had stamina and charisma into the late hours of the night. Best of all, the music was across the board amazing, fulfilling a void that parties here have been missing for a long time. The night started out with a back to back set by Naima and Aaron featuring hip hop, bassy reggaeton, and Bay Area hyphy, starting off the evening on a lively note.

After their back to back set, Mel played a number of popular rap/hip hop cuts, basically every good song off the new Drake album. Despite some technical trouble, Mel’s set went off and the crowd was ultra receptive, the highlight definitely being when they played Tokyo Vanity’s Bechdel-Test passing banger “That’s My Best Friend” which got everyone off of the wall and onto the dance floor, a very rare occurrence. By the time Alexis Howell went onstage the crowd began to thin out more, which is understandable for 1 a.m. on a Wednesday, but regardless Alexis’ set was mixed smoothly and quite subversive, spinning cuts from Fatima Al Qadiri’s album about orientalist roots of sino-grime with banging classic house music. Howell told me that halfway through her set, someone came up and requested a song, which Alexis indulged and ended up incorporating a playlist of requests into the rest of her set. She cited that she felt that it was important that she take requests and accommodate other people of color within the collective space to make it a more welcome environment for attendees since collective spaces like Free Breakfast are so rare.

All in all, Free Breakfast Club has filled a very necessary place that has been missing for a long time in Olympia. It’s important that in the wake of so many instances of anti-black violence occurring in our very white town there be a positive space for people of color to congregate for the sake of having a good time. Aaron and Naima hinted that because Free Breakfast will be moved to a weekend slot at Obsidian since the party is currently scheduled on Wednesdays when most patrons would have work or school the next day. I had a great time at this party and everyone I talked to about it had nothing but positive reviews. I greatly anticipate the next Free Breakfast, events like these are few and far between which only highlight their significance.