HUCK talks DIY beginnings and queering the London scene
After eight years of outrage and counting, Sink The Pink's infamous parties are legendary around the globe. We spoke to Amy Redmond, Sink The Pink co-founder, about their DIY beginnings and queering the London scene.
From humble beginnings come great things, or so the saying goes at least. For Amy Redmond and her troop of genderbending drag queens, this tired old phrase is their reality. From DIY nights at an East London working men’s club to the main stages of festivals across the globe, their rise to notoriety has been nothing short of meteoric. The now legendary Sink The Pink have achieved cult status for their antics, and have triggered a wave of films, exhibitions and academic works that dissect and explore their world.
In some ways it’s unsurprising, as drag continues to kick down the doors of mainstream cultural acceptance on both sides of the Atlantic. But with nightclubs and venues continuing to shut across the English capital, it was never a given that this DIY dream would blossom.
Over the past eight years, Sink The Pink has taken London’s nightlife by storm, bucking the trend of closures and cancellations with their hedonistic, no holds barred parties that attract hoards of devoted fans of all genders and sexualities.
Amy Redmond, co-founder and mother of the family talks to HUCK about queering the norm, and being creative in a city that’s pricing out artists every day.
HUCK: Why did you start Sink The Pink? What was our nightlife and youth culture missing that you wanted to create?
Amy: To be honest there wasn’t a lot more to it than two best friends wanting to show off! We had gone to a lot of nights in Soho where we didn’t feel that welcome. It started feeling a bit backwards to have to club in a gay space for Glyn to meet a boy, and for us to have to go to a straight place for me to meet a boy. We had to divide our partying between these separate spaces just so each of us could get a snog! We wanted to create a space where everyone could just party together, regardless of gender or sexuality, and get dressed up in silly outfits, and feel like we were at someone’s amazing house party in the process.
Queer venues are shutting across London and beyond, but STP is going from strength to strength. Why do you think that’s happening?
I suppose because we have consistently put on really fun, silly, affordable parties for eight years. I am eternally proud and so grateful to our crew of performers for Believing and living the STP dream of freedom, self-expression, performance art, colour, creativity and life force, these goddesses bring this to the stage each time STP happens and it is this energy that I feel London needed, particularly in a time of overpriced, politically depressing, negativity. London isn’t currently kind to the artist, but we have worked hard to build a community of strength that nothing can break.
People who flock to STP talk about finding a home, feeling safe, and feeling part of a community. What happens when you put on a night that allows this to happen?
It is so wonderful to hear that, because that is all we have ever wanted to do. I think from the smallest party we ever did through to the huge events at the Troxy, the ethos is still the same; freedom, creativity, acceptance, outrageous costumes and love. If you come to one of our events you are part of the family.
Sometimes a big city can be really scary, to have a safe space that you can come and be as fabulous as you feel is so important! I suppose we have created exactly what it was that we wanted from London, and to have done that for thousands of other people in turn is just the ultimate blessing.
You work closely with lots of young artists and performers – do you think London is a tough place to be right now if you’re trying to make it?
Yes London is a tough place to be right now, it seems that the time of getting a cheap shared flat with a bunch of friends and making art work and creativity your priority is not an option any more. To have to work six days a week to pay your rent is no quality of life, particularly for an artist who just needs to create. I left the city and moved to the seaside.
I carried STP while working three jobs the whole time I was in London, Imagine the heights it can go to now I have my full attention to give. You don’t have to suffer in London artists! There is life outside of the capital!
Drag and queer performance has taken mainstream culture by storm, why are people becoming so excited by it?
We never planned for our club to be drag focused. I suppose because we just love dressing up it attracted people who are the same, we are all just big kids dressing up for a party. I suppose you could call it drag, but really we are just playing with gender and having as much fun as we possibly can. The spirit of STP is the same as ever, and I am proud to take that into the mainstream, and perhaps through the strength of what is normal to us, we can challenge what is normal to others.
I would love for a young soul around the world to find out about us and what is going on in the drag scene in England, and be inspired to start their own troop of fabulous freaks. To give someone finding out who they are, experimenting with gender and identity, a sense of acceptance and community and space to become themselves is really important to us.
The Sink The Pink ball kicks off at 9pm this Saturday in London, find out more here.