[Doll: A trans woman. She’s cunt. She’s tall, pumped, snatched, goddess energy,
everything you want to be and more. You could never.]Bautista and Bambi with Opia logo, looks by Chema Diaz, Sophie Holden, 2023
While Soho takes care of the palatable version of the gays™, the dolls serve pure camp in community led club nights; Opia just hosted one of the sexiest.
From disco and ballroom in the US, to techno becoming the cornerstone of British rave since the late 80s, queer rave is an amalgamation of all things subversive – the place where new drugs emerge as quickly as fashion trends and creative communities thrive. Trans strip club Harpies’ Lucia Blayke walked in pleasers so the Opia girls can run in platforms. Iconic club night Inferno, along with Dalston Superstore’s established trans nights have created a safe space for the transnormative to exist in peace and cross pollinate with more mainstream ideas of entertainment. Trans club kids, performers and DJs have been lately dominating the London party scene, taking more and more space in major venues, as well as developing concepts to cater to the community’s niche needs.
Opia is the latest London-based queer rave and collective that operates within the spectrum of fashion, performance art, and branding. A few weeks ago, party dolls and socialites Bambi and Bautista were frolicking around Granary Square promoting their launch event, in natural blonde lace fronts and matching bimbocore sets by @iamchemadiaz. The party description reads:
Eurotrash 3000 is the ultimate futuristic girl’s trip to Mallorca.
Bootleg RayBans meets the Matrix. Celebrating all things kitschy,
slutty, and Avicii inspired. A throwback to 2012 mixed with
post digitalism, post humanism and post Eurovision.
The sell does not only hint to the music but also sets the outfit brief. The looks are expected to adorn the dancefloor and awe the smoking area besties. The dolls were already posting content bragging about Opia’s fashion in comparison to more mainstream LGBTQI+ events like Adonis. Beauty comes from within, but queers have always been very creative curating it.
June 10, Unit 58; the cuntiest club kids of the city are embraced by repetitive beats and pulsing lights. Rhinestones, microskirts and platform boots on sweaty pierced and tattooed bodies; don’t assume anyone’s gender. Behind the decks, DJs Hasznat, Dextra Mandrake, HollyWarcup, and Lovecat blast hardcore spine-tingling techno. Behind them, a crucified papier-mâché bikinied bimbo with the haziest eyes is the night’s sacrificial totem: a trans icon. The looks are dazzling, and everyone is hot, you just had to be there.
Looks that stand out as outrageous on the street, find safe haven in the queer rave. Camp is not a requirement but a result of self-expression. Many of the attendees come from art schools or just love fashion – the whole thing is definitely very Central Saint Martins coded. DIY aesthetics, looking expensive even if you aren’t, and vice versa, becomes a whole vibe in this parallel universe. Faux fur patchworks, and jean trucker hats encrusted with the name of a European country you visited over summer are paired with barely-there sex wear. Prostitute meets fae. From goths in towering boots and face paint to ethereal punks looking like they just walked out of the woods in distressed robes, they all clash harmoniously. Not a normal haircut to be seen; the accessories are kinky, spiky, and sparkly.
One tube dress reads: DRAMA POWER FAME GREED WASTE MONEY, a statement as self-aware as it is obnoxious, a post-logic conundrum. The *nouveaux-riche pretending-to-be aristocrats* eurotrash trope resonates a lot with the performance of queer identity. By embracing vilified ‘feminine’ traits, the dolls are subverting hyper-sexualisation into dumbed-out bimbo mannerisms. And it is all set in a real-life metaverse, where everyone uplifts and validates each other just through the shared experience of identity.
“They are trying to create this really cunty, slay club night for the dolls and also bring in this satirical, ironic -but not really- approach to fashion and clubbing”, says @czech.hunter.schafer, an Instagram microcelebrity and trans meme aficionado who was invited to host the event. Along with @dalstonsuperstoned, who also attended incognito, they have been posting about this new wave of queer joy and drama. “There are all these creative individuals who face personal and societal shit, and then they’re coming out with it and make the best f*cking gabber mix”, she points out in admiration. In the face of discrimination, the scene taking up more and more space.
With trans rights and gender affirming healthcare constantly under scrutiny, being trans in this country is getting increasingly scary. “As a trans woman I don’t even feel comfortable in places like Soho, even when we go to the trans nights”, she says. Being a minority in a minority space, it makes sense to create spaces which cater to all of the beautiful colours of queerness. “If we’re in employment, working in a heteronormative space is a constant battle. But when we get out at night, we can find each other in the events and spaces we create”. Along with so many other dolls, miss CHS points out that she discovered her gender identity through the club. “I don’t know what my transition would have looked like if I hadn’t connected to the trans people through nightlife”. From sharing a bag of mkat (mephedrone) in the club’s bathrooms, to hooking up their sisters with HRT (estrogen) when they are in need, trans girls’ club scene is indistinguishable from their community.
With Trans Pride around the corner, it is important to remember that creating alternative processes is a site of resistance. Raves serve as a space for hedonism, a utopic grasp of what the world could feel like if society didn’t give a side eye. Time doesn’t stop there; it rather flows differently. Queer people are already from the future; they chew up social media and spit out tight knit communities. Finding family somewhere between alter egos and imposter syndrome, queer is here to slay.
What will the Opia dolls do next? We can’t wait to find out. Meanwhile, check out 2CPERREA, R U A GOFF, ARIZE, and GR1N, for more community-driven raving.