Maythey is the city’s first club night combining heady hardstyle and gabber with unapologetic queerness
In the outskirts of Lisbon, a death-rattling blitzkrieg of crazed BPMs and flashing lights instantly pulverise any tourist notion of the city as a sun-lit paradise. Bodies glimmer in the dark, with chains and tattoos moving to thunderous pulses, accelerated anthems, and crazed pop belters exploding from speakers.
Maythey is Lisbon’s first queer neo-hardcore rave, emerging in early 2022 and carving out a realm of harsh noises for a nocturnal community hidden beneath the city’s slow-paced surface. Dark build-ups and dramatic sounds intermingle with expressions of joy amongst a new unapologetic generation in the city, warping the world around them on their own high-velocity terms. Rumours of the party have spread quickly over the last few years, and the list of legendary artists taking part both locally and from abroad has grown, as have the numbers of ravers who come and relish its space. Moving at its own crazed tempo, it reclaims the city’s nightlife, which has been increasingly monetised over the years for economic purposes, with urban transformation and harsh licenses leaving locals excluded from their own neighbourhoods.
Its founder and resident DJ Ecstasya (Stasya or Sta in the scene) defines its particular sonic flavour as a pummelling blend of emotion, dark rhythms and pop-effervescence. “I always felt like I did not belong anywhere in the city’s queer scene because of my hard and fast sounds, so I decided to create my own space,” Ecstasya explains. “Our party is the first of its kind in the country, and the challenge was to create a public for something that has never been done before. Especially with this type of music, the only options available so far weren’t necessarily safe or comfortable enough for us, so we’re creating that space in hope that other ravers and artists feel like they could freely explore these expressions.”
Maythey’s progressive character may be propelled by the eclecticism of surrounding nightlife as it introduces a carefree mix of influences into its pop hardcore fusions: echoes of Lil Texas, Dorian Electra or Namasenda conjoin with baile funk and psytrance, tribal house with denbow and crossbreed. It’s a stark contrast to the image of the city portrayed to rave tourists and businessmen: sunny streets and the overly masc techno scene. Below, we spotlight some of the key players.
Maythey’s founder started the party because there was nothing quite like it before in Lisbon: a place to be hardcore and unapologetically queer. Their party brings a whole combination of different elements that reflect their own high-power productions, from trance, breakcore and PC music influences, as well as their past experiences working alongside other key electronic collectives in Lisbon, like mina and Rádio Quântica. But Maythey crystallises their own vision of gut-wrenching hyper-rhythms against sublime pop euphony, and crazed velocities transporting crowds to unknown futures. Several new artists and collectives inspired by Maythey have cropped up since its establishment, but members of the community unanimously agree that Ecstasya’s contributions have been important for a long time.
Resident DJ Lainx has emerged as an important player in shaping Maythey. Having explored hardcore parties from a very young age, Lainx’s sets bring a seasoned knowledge of rave lineages while mixing them with other wide-ranging sounds from Lisboa’s nightlife. Tribal house and baile funk melt into trance and techno, rebelling against any past monotony with chaotic speeds. Adored by the community, they’re rising quickly as an artist to watch out for.
A Portuguese native with Cape Verdean heritage, Eriko, AKA Desiludildo, has been active between London and Lisbon as a DJ, stylist and model. Sonically they bring the nightmare donk of London’s nu-goth rave circles, cranking up Maythey’s bpm and connecting its remote scene with the warping influences of internet-based subcultures. As a stylist, they explore gender-bending takes on kawaii alongside otherworldly club-kid-inspired aesthetics. This includes the phenomena of ‘ganguro’, a subversive 90s Japanese trend of dark tan and heavy makeup. Eriko’s singular presence inspires an escape for diasporic citizens of Portugal, a country still brimming with contradictions not helped by its colonial past.
Dianna XL is known for her skills as a story-telling producer, expressing her inner world through digital textures, maximalist urges, and intimate vocal delivery. Her apocalyptic pop unfolds with a dark sense of beauty, unravelling into hardcore, dubstep, batida and beyond. Her frenetic sound profoundly distills the experiences of a trans artist in Lisbon’s underground scene.
An extended family member of Maythey, Sonora from Spain sends electric shocks across Lisbon’s underground with her high-octane performances of mákina, a 90s hardcore genre from Valencia, wildly futuristic with its ultra-fast synths and mechanical bounce. From Valencia herself, Sonora reclaims the genre across time in dynamic sets celebrating queer expressions of nightlife. Autotune moans and kisses are mixed into hardcore and accelerated gabber kicks, while futuristic fashion and performance take centre stage. As a co-founder and resident of Barcelona’s MUSA platform, a party and collective in Barcelona highlighting queer artists, Sonora’s presence in Maythey is important in reinforcing the alliances between rave narratives of southern Europe, and showing how they are being variously rediscovered by younger generations.
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