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BattyMama: An Immersive Mixed Arts Space for Black Queer Introverts Who Want to Go Clubbing

The Batty Mama is a Black Queer/LGBTQIA+ mixed arts club night, which aims to showcase, promote, financially support and centre Black Queer and gender-non-conforming art and artists. Born from the need to have a space for 3 friends to hang out in, feel comfortable, and have fun. The Friends being; a film-maker, film programmer and introvert (Hakeem Kazeem), a curator, writer and academic (Ama Josephine Budge), and a performances artist, cultural antagonist and teacher (Lasana Shabazz) - Batty Mama became the result, and conversation, of what this space could be, looks like, and means. Who it’s for and how as queer black artists we can accommodates all these ideas and needs is very much still an ongoing dialogue.

A typical Batty Mama is from 9pm-3am, 6 hours of visual art projections, live performances, games and competitions, a dance off/vogue tunnel, and ends with the electric slide. Now we’re looking to experiment a bit more, work with other queer groups and organisations, and see how close we can get to realising our vision. As of now (me: Hakeem, the introvert) I’m really interested in the landscape of new visual technology, the opportunities they bring, and pushing the mediums in interesting and creative ways; finding ways to use them, and create with them, with the aim to be at the forefront of as many disciplines as possible but also to encourage, and inspire, other people to use them too, to create. For example: VR, AR and Interactive projections are really exciting to me and I’m intrigued to see who our audience responds to our installations on the night.

The immersiveness of the night is both trying to fit everything in, having it be a space people have things to engage with, actively and passively, facilitating a wide range of arts, art forms and artists and to have people overwhelmed and enriched by Black Queerness. 

As an introvert, I’m really invested in the experience of our audience. - I fully want people to be able to a walk into a space and not feel that they have to talk to anyone, or feel obligated to be fun, or a good dancer. I mostly want them to know that other people are incidental, and they can mostly have fun by themselves.

It’s an interesting experience being a Queer Black Introvert, because most queer, and queer black spaces, are at night and are mostly clubs, and club nights, which is quite alienating, exhausting and a bit scary for people who know they’ll just be awkward and anxious all night. It’s a bit frustrating to want to join in, especially to be around other black queers, but know you’ll probably not feel comfortable enough to be able to let go. It’s great to have a space where you can do fun things, interesting things, have things to engage with, even learn about, as well as dance your ass off. I’m also interested in creating a space that is as accessible as possible, then continuing to improve as we go on. To be immersed in options. I want people to literally leave with a catalogue of queer blackness they wouldn’t have seen otherwise, hence the zine we’ll be producing of the night.

Batty Mama also remains hugely body positive, fat positive, sex and kink positive, but also introvert-positive and we have Batty Buddies at each night to try and support anybody who’s feeling a bit lost, or might need a hug, or support.

For January 19th, we’ll be at hackney showroom, for our biggest event yet. As well as the visual art/projexibition, we’ll have short films playing all night. With our silent disco head-phones, you’ll have the options of a black British queer history exhibit, black queer shorts, or some good ol’ hiphop, bashment, dancehall and RnB courtesy of our duelling DJ’s giving you an excuse to bring back 90’s moves on the dance floor. This is made possible by collaborations with the incredible artist and archivist Ajamu, and curator Lulu Orajy.

Hosted by Co-founder, Lasana Shabazz. The night will consist of Performances by Drag Queen FKA, Burlesque performer Coco Deville, Deaf actor and sign language poet David Ellington, and Drag Kings Wesley Dykes and Gusher battle-it-out to see who’s got the biggest…talent. Anyone brave enough to rep a side, drag up, and lip-sync-for-their-life could win a hard-earned Batty Loving prize. We’re excited to welcome LDN Gaymers to the Batty family, and very excited to play with their toys.

2018 will host 4 quarterly BattyMama Nights, as defined above. We’ll also host partnered and smaller events including a series Batty Mama Brunches, daytime versions of our club nights, for people who prefer not to go out at night, or might be a tad younger. It’s also a place where artists looking to test out some of their work to a receptive audience can come and get feedback.

At the end of the year we will be presenting a full immersive theatre production. A play in October, which will combine all the elements of a Batty Mama night, with a full theatre production, actors who will weave all the aspects of the night into a character driven narrative.

The Batty Mama is an organisation which aims to invest in the production, promotion and facilitation of Black Queer Images, voices and stories so that in 20 years the next generations of Black Queers will have wealth of media to identify with and will be empowered to make their own. All our artists and DJs get paid, that’s essential to us. Whether it’s a dance party or a march, we’re tired of the revolution being built by free Black queer labour.


Winter WineDown: White Party

Friday, January 19th: 9pm-3am

Hackney Showroom



All images © Angela Dennis