I Need a Space draws whistles and howls from attendees
“I believe that post-secondary schools need to offer a diverse range of events for students,” said Sarah Rayner, LGBTQ support staff at the Community Action Centre (CAC). “Dances and parties are great, but that’s not everyone’s style.”
Enter I Need Space: A Queer and Trans Dance Party, which took place on Friday, April 8 in the St. James Kings Lounge. The event offered a spaced-themed dance party, burlesque performance, and a substance-free space that everyone could enjoy.
“Creating events like this take a lot of time and energy, there was a lot of figuring out about what could, and couldn’t realistically be done, along with a lot of collaboration with other SA (Student Association) departments,” said Rayner. They added that a LGBTQ-focused pub night was one of the most requested events last year. The Student Association funds the publication of The Dialog.
The whistling and howling audience got a spicy taste of burlesque with performers Foxy Roxy, Leelando, and award-winning Zyra Lee Vanity taking the stage. “It was nice to see that it was some people’s first burlesque show and watching those faces shift from absolute shock to smiling and whistling as the set went on,” said Rayner.
Five dollar donations were being accepted at the door in support of YouthLine, a hotline for LGBTQ youth that provides, “service for youth, by youth, that affirms the experiences and aspirations of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, transgender, two-spirited, queer and questioning youth in Ontario,” according to their website.
Following an anti-oppressive practice, the event made sure that the space was accessible and accommodating for all guests, providing ASL interpretation, active listeners, safer-sex supplies and consent information. A substance-free craft space was also available for guests who felt like being away from the performance and dance party. “There were people in there right until the end of the party,” Rayner said.
As for another event next year, Rayner added that they would love to see more events like this in the future. “If the interest and enthusiasm sticks around, I can’t see why not!”
Correction: An earlier version of this article mistakenly said that Sarah Rayner was the CAC’s assistant. Rayner is LGBTQ support staff with the CAC.