French queer party promoters La Toilette have been the subject of criticism after going ahead with a party at a refugee squat last weekend.
The Parisian squat is home to 225 refugees mostly made up of families with young children. Punters paid €26 each for tickets to the unlicensed event but had no idea what they would find upon attending.
“When we arrived, something didn’t feel right: you could see children running around, people living in substandard housing,” one attendee told Electronic Beats.
La Toilette is a well-known queer party collective, that hosts frequent events in and around Paris. According to the same attendee, promoters arrived hours after ticket-holders, and “didn’t seem to care at all”.
When we spoke to La Toilette to find out what happened, a spokesperson told us that they had only found out “just a few hours before” that the location was in fact homing hundreds of migrants.
Despite this knowledge, the promoters didn't think to cancel it, and instead opted for a conversation with delegates from the camp. “The day before we were told that there might be an open-air location big enough to hold a party," La Toilette told Mixmag.
"We were then told on the day of the event that it was a refugee camp, so the building was a shelter and we would be using the outside. This was not a problem for us, we met the delegates from the inhabitant and they told us that it would be a great help for them because the situation is very difficult for us at the moment, and this is what convinced us to do it there.”
They also said that they had discussed with refugees whether hosting a 24-hour party would be okay, to which they supposedly agreed, and would be paid for.
When asked if the migrants were involved, they said that some of the migrants helped to unload vans and carry supplies, “we didn’t employ them,” he said, “they helped.”
“When we visited the place there were no families, no children. They never spoke to us about children,” they said, despite a video circulating on social media of a child lost amongst crowds. The spokesperson even went on to say that some of the migrants were offered to join in the party.
The party was shut down after just two hours by the police, who became aggressive with attendees and in turn, the refugees who had made their home on the camp.
When the police stormed the site and entered the homes of sheltering families, one ticket-holder heard a refugee tell the authorities: “You are letting us down! Are you trying to kill us?”. He continued, “That’s when I realised the extent of what just happened, and thought: ‘What did we do?’.”
Refugees now face possible eviction from the area as a result and have been left to deal with the mess and repercussions of La Toilette’s decision. The promoters received backlash across social media.
Read this next: One dies, one born at 10,000 person illegal rave in Italy
One of the DJs asked to play the event has now spoken out against the promoters on social media. Parisian DJ Nymed posted on Instagram on Tuesday, “Being myself an immigrant, I cannot tolerate investing and even spoiling such precarious places intended for people who cross the world to survive.”
“I appeal to your common sense: we, queer people are already persecuted for what we are, imagine what hundreds of people could be represented as, as well as the arrival of the police in their only safe place,” he said in the post titled “Dear Queer People”.
Manel - a member of the Les Eveillés collective helping refugees in danger - is now on the site where the party occurred to aid with the aftermath of the promoter’s poor choice. “La Toilette ran out of options and rushed into this alternative without caring about the consequences a thousand people, loud music […] could bring in with them.
“Not even mentioning the fact that they employed refugees illegally to work at the bar and clean up the whole thing,” she said. La Toilette told us that litter was left on site for two days after the event finished, which goes against the party's "usual" standards where they would normally clean up immediately after an event.
Refugees at the camp are now in danger of being left without a home in the coming weeks, while La Toilette are yet to issue an apology. If you want to help fund safe spaces for refugees in France, support Care4Calais here.
Gemma Ross is Mixmag's Digital Intern, follow her on Twitter