The NYC Downlow. Friday June 26, 2015.
12.30am: Glastonbury festival opens on a Wednesday but Friday is when the nighttime revelry really begins to unfurl. Honey Dijon is effectively kicking off a weekend of midsummer thrills 'n spills and everyone inside the NYC Downlow knows it. As a typically full-on performance from the venue's legendary drag queens comes to an end, Honey ramps the excitement up even further by revving through a set of Chicago house and disco classics. The rhythms are jackin' and the vocal hooks sublime. This is what it's all about.
1.25am: You know that feeling of satisfaction when you've dragged all your mates to see a DJ on the promise that said selector will be fucking brilliant? And they are fucking brilliant? Well, this is it. The Downlow is a hotbox of jerky limbs and come-ups, soundtracked by life-affirming house music. 'I Will Survive' rings out across the room, which is set up in the style of a darkened, frisky warehouse, and Honey is in total control. Until the lights and sound suddenly go dead, that is. The intense euphoria has seemingly caused a power outage. But the crowd won't be quelled, singing every word despite being drenched in darkness. A moment indeed.
NYC Downlow first appeared at the UK's biggest festival in the mid 00s. It was founded by Stephen Gallagher and Gideon Berger, who knew that Glasto was missing something. In an interview with Dazed, Berger said: "I went out to Burning Man and saw some of shit they did out there and was blown away by the homo camp stuff... I came back to Steve and said 'lets build a gay bar at Glastonbury' – it's the best festival in Europe but there's zero gay presence there." NYC Downlow welcomes the likes of Prosumer, Tama Sumo and Midland as well as the UK's most notorious drag queens every summer and has become an important destination for LGBTI festival-goers. It's also developed a rep as one of the best clubs in the world.
Honey Dijon's performance at the Downlow epitomised the vintage house sound and hedonism that the venue throws back to as well as its gay roots: she is one of the foremost transgender DJs on the circuit, as comfortable playing fashion parties thrown by Hermès and Givenchy as she is holding down residencies at Cielo in New York and Smart Bar in Chicago. She gives her seriously good selections to crowds around the world (forthcoming gigs include the CTM and Melt! festivals, Secretsundaze and Gloria's), arriving in the booth with style and a delicious sense of mischief. "The DJ world is still a boy's club in a lot of ways," she told the New York Times. "You figure most DJs show up in jeans and a T-shirt or whatever, but then I show up in a Givenchy Rottweiler shirt and it's like, 'Oh, my God.' You're seen in a different light."
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