A guide to the shows, exhibitions and meet-ups that champion the talent, diversity and experiences of black British girlhood
From events curated by the minds behind up-and-coming zines to the sweaty mashup of cultures on dancefloors in South London, 2016 has seen no shortage of burgeoning WoC collectives carving a place for themselves in the capital’s cultural scene. September is no different.
With the return of school and university, the mourning for the summer left behind and a giant hole in your bank account as a result of holidays, festivals and outdoor socialising, the arrival of autumn is often unwelcomed. But that doesn’t mean your social calendar has to be any emptier, especially with the diverse and creative events lined up over the next coming weeks. Here are our recommendations for what’s going on in the capital, and luckily most of them are either cheap or free.
REEL GOOD FILM CLUB
Aside from being a bloody good pun, London/Brighton’s most inclusive film club has gained its popularity due to the incredible variety of screenings. Past events have included panellists like Bim Adewunmi, all-night video screenings of Missy Elliott for the rap queen’s birthday, and an anti #OscarsSoWhite screening of Tangerine. This month’s event is in conjunction with Scalamara, a DIY Celebration of Cinema “for everyone, by everyone, everywhere. Every September, forever”. To mark the occasion RGFC will present a lost masterpiece called Losing Ground at Genesis Cinema, which is thought to be the first feature film by an African-American woman.
Run by Grace Barber-Plentie, Maria Cabrera and Lydia Heathcote, the events started because they became “sick” of films only being talked about in a certain way and aimed to start an inclusive jargon-free night that was “open to everyone”. Even better the girl’s will throw a pre-party at Buster Mantis to celebrate their 2nd birthday this month too.
Watch the trailer below:
As you could probably guess from the name, this night is a sapphic ode to female sexuality – and a Lil Kim lyric. The night is run by Ams who says the gay clubbing landscape is “still as white and as racist as ever, often delving into highly appropriative territory”. She joins the likes of BBZ, with whom Magic Clit recently partnered up with to host a Peckham night; Batty Mama and Gold Snap in joining the new scene dedicating queer nights to women of colour who often come from communities that aren’t as accepting of LGBTQ people.
Ams promises that the music is always good thanks to BBC AZN NETWORK, Girl Unit, Ikonika, Shy One and A.G. DJs, and tries to give revellers another option than “overpriced” Soho. She adds: “It’s meant to be a night where you can express yourself as much as you want, be that in a sexual manner or not, no-one’s looking. A night where you can hug up on your girlfriend as intimately as you want without worrying about someone possibly getting offended.”
The next Magic Clit will be held at The Basement, The CLF Art Cafe in Peckham on September 8
BLACK GIRL’S PICNIC
If Beyonce tells you to “get in formation” – you listen. Hence why Chardine Taylor formed Black Girl’s Picnic. Feeling inspired by the growing unity among young Black feminists after Queen Bey's latest album, and putting the notion of self-care into practice, Taylor felt it was important to create a space where self-identifying Black women could come together in a non-political setting to recharge their batteries.
Following a troubling couple of months of police brutality in the US and the growth of Black Lives Matter in the UK, Black Girl’s Picnic was created to act as a haven away from the stress of activism and the burden of race-related trauma. It has taken place in London and Birmingham so far. “Often as marginalised people a lot of our energy goes into calling out unsafe spaces as supposed to creating ones which suit our individual needs to feel safe,” Taylor explains. So expect singing, chatting, laughing and to eat “other people’s Jollof”. Oh, and wear white.
Join the Black Girl’s Picnic in London Fields at 1pm on September 4
BLACK IN THE DAY
Looking through old family albums can be incredibly cringe-worthy and heartwarming in equal measure. Think awkward hairstyles, ill-informed outfits and stills of drunk uncles dancing at family parties. Black in the Day is a visual journey through the black British experience, and they are creating a submission-based photo archive of the UK throughout the decades to document a side of history not often seen.
The free day party takes place at a Black-owned chocolate shop on Brick Lane called Dark Sugars, which will be chock full of DJs spinning tunes for you to “buss a two-step” and scan your photos into the archive to tell more about each era than words ever could. Think Malick Sidibé or Dennis Morris, but the photos were most likely taken by a family member at the heart of the action.
Pass by the event at Dark Sugars from 3-9pm on September 3
Given that Black women are seven times more likely to be detained under mental health legislation than white women, the Unmasked Women exhibition about Black mental health couldn’t have come at a better time. Organisers aim to “creatively document and showcase the work of several artists whilst creating a safe and open platform for further discussions” and are exhibiting up-and-coming arts to reflect the Black female British experience.
Included in the exhibit will be the works of Adama Jalloh, whose photographs have captured nights at Magic Clit, Gabriela Chase, Heather Agyepong and more. The weekend will include music by Radar Radio DJ & presenter Kamilla Rose, performances, poetry and live artwork and panels.
Read more about the exhibition that takes place September 2-4 in Southwark here