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@isthisisarePhotography Ethan Jones, @ethanjphoto

Tremors is the club night bringing online avatar looks from URL to IRL

TextEmily Crooked

The event returned to east London, bringing with it a community of people whose beauty looks are founded in extremity and experimentation

January 24 saw the return of Tremors, an east London party premised around hardcore dance music, performance art, and otherworldly, verging on terrifying, beauty looks. Past nights have seen household hardcore and PC music names like Spinee, GFOTY, and Panteros666 play, alongside an artistic and online presence that includes holographic installations for Hanger and a virtual avatar campaign for Walter van Beirendonck. And they threw the dirty, underground afters for Danny L Harle’s Harlecore series at Southbank Centre.

After a break since last summer, the collective avatars and characters returned to their regular venue Dream Bags Jaguar Shoes, in the face of the blue denim and open-neck shirts that saturate their surroundings. Shoreditch seemed unsure what to do with the striped, fingerless, elbow-length gloves, enormous knee-high platform boots, the abundance of fishnets, cat ears, and the occasional person on a leash. 

Aside from the fabulous out-of-place-ness of it all, inside the venue is what Tremors’ founder NURSE3D called the “IRL space” for the online community from which Tremors initially grew. It’s a community geared towards creating “superhero versions of ourselves” and “avatars,” with strong links to the 3D art movement (NURSE3D specifically is a pale, gothy little nymph with fangs, and a hugely long tongue), who use Tremors to “push that to the next extreme” – to be that IRL. Tremors is a response to “wanting more than just an online avatar and it creeping through into (IRL rather than digital) beauty”, and real physical spaces. 

While online spaces and the creativity and freedom offered within them are valuable, the opportunity to enact it IRL seems important. Mainstream beauty occurs on the body, or claims to (read: airbrushing) – but beauty at Tremors never claims to be rooted in anything real. It’s a physical imitation of the digital, a use of the body to express to the world what has been expressed online. The self-expression that this leads to is beautiful – it’s a use of beauty practices that has no attachment to reality or convention, one that becomes pure vision and expression.

Online culture’s influence is obvious in this, NURSE3D also credits going to Slimelight with a small crew of cybergoths thinking: ‘What if a whole party could be like this?’. From this, the community has built itself into an IRL space that veers towards colour, extremity, and experimentation in every sense. Hair and make-up take centre stage across the night – everything from Storm St Claire‘s tear-streaked black eyeliner to Spoooky Kid’s two bleached tufts of hair.

For Tremors community member Space Candy, the movement of space from online to IRL is the latest step in “message boards or blogging sites (becoming) an online space that’s been teleported into a real-life moment”. Being non-binary, Space Candy appreciates Tremors for its context in terms of beauty: they’re able to wear whatever they want – tights with big, chunky shoes, a big leather choker – and feel comfortable. “Even though I’m dressing unconventionally, I fit in with everyone else there who, while also are dressing unusually, can feel comfort in knowing everyone there is doing the same in expressing who they are and how they want to present,” they say. 

Tremors’ roots in digital culture lend themselves to a “layer of artificiality that can and should be embraced,” allowing for “excess and selectively curating oneself” and “unlocking your internal expression into a physical form,” says Zoë Neidisch, resulting in looks that aim to “reach something alien and androgynous.” For Jess Strawberry, it’s a space to physically animate an online “fictional character” complete with a “backstory for myself and why I look the way I do.” Their specific look “mix(es) creepy and cute stuff together; a big spiked goth collar and stark white face to contrast the cute hair and sailor schoolgirl uniform.” For Storm St Claire, who performed at the party as one half of Storm Spent, Tremors’ collective attitude nurtures artists, both visual and musical, by being “open to artists trying, failing and learning more about their work” in that space. 

The music and visuals of the night “go hand in hand” for Space Candy, with NURSE3D adding that “the same people that are into pushing their look or their visual art naturally gravitate to more extreme music.” NURSE3D matches their experimental noise sets with heavy graphic black eyeliner, and, until recently, two neon green mohawks. In a similar vein, the Spent half of Storm Spent performed their live, digital, glitchy set with four streaks pink and green hair and a stitch running up the middle of their skull. In the Tremors basement, speakers struggling with overdriven noise create a monstrous harmony with the creatures and creations in attendance. Laila Blebleble provided the visual art for the night that sits somewhere between Blade Runner-esque digital glitch art, and the kind of fleshy, wet, content that we are (or at least you should be) familiar with from their Instagram feed. 

“Tremors is a space where beauty is repurposed, false eyelashes used upside down, eyebrows make only occasional appearances, lipstick is smeared or overdone, almost nothing is used as the manufacturer intended. Ultimately, Tremors is where we go to immerse ourselves in manifestations of the worlds we create online”

Tremors is a space where beauty is repurposed, false eyelashes used upside down, eyebrows make only occasional appearances, lipstick is smeared or overdone, almost nothing is used as the manufacturer intended. Ultimately, Tremors is where we go to immerse ourselves in manifestations of the worlds we create online.

The queerness of all of this feels implicit. Being able to freely be yourself, outside of societal expectations is what we value in our safe spaces, and Tremors offers this in the extreme. It allows its community, not to feel normal, but rather to feel like part of something, like we’re not alone and there’s a physical, real-life community that we can rely on. Whether this relates to gender identity, sexuality or simply niche interests like noise artists, queer performance art or experimental make-up and styling, it creates a feeling of security and safety that is often hard to come by in the “real world.” 

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