SwapStories: TicketSwap x MMIV

Creating safe spaces and shining a light on the queer community

Working as a performer, DJ and event producer, Thijs Weijland (MMIV) has been an active part of LGBTQIA+ nightlife for over a decade. Nowadays, he’s the driving force behind Supernature, a queer collective spreading incredible art, music and events across the country, and hosting a tent at Lowlands. We caught up with Thijs to talk about Pride, safe spaces for the queer community, and why the Adonis area at Lowlands is so damn popular.

Let’s talk about you! How did you start working in nightlife?
I started out as a dancer... well, performer I should say. The first time I performed was at a party at Paradiso in Amsterdam (also where I met Peter van Vught). Every week you would get a different assignment, multiple performances a night so I performed dressed as almost anything you can imagine. I’ve been dressed as a present, a deliveryman, a tree, you name it. After that, Peter and I started DJ-ing together as The G-Team. Then we started organizing events together, as one of the few DJ-duo’s around at that time. After a decade of working together, we went in our different musical directions. I started working with some other people and a collective started growing naturally. 

(Image: The G-Team)

That (queer) collective is now called Supernature, and is responsible for running parties like ‘The Station’ and hosting ‘Adonis’ at Lowlands. How did you transform from a group of creatives into a collective?
A year ago, we spent a month in California on the Savage Ranch (a queer refuge and artist commune founded by Love Bailey) to see what we can do separate from nightlife and how we can really develop ourselves as a queer collective. Our main question: what do we want the Supernature world to look like? And what should it sound like? That resulted in different forms of art, starting with music. I’ve wanted to create my own music for a really long time, so I’m happy to officially announce that an EP is finally being released through our Supernature label! We also wrote a manifesto with all kinds of visuals which will be displayed at NSDM Fuse during Pride Amsterdam.

Speaking of Pride Amsterdam… there isn’t a Canal Parade this year, will you miss it?
It’s a shame the parade was cancelled but Pride itself, of course, is still going ahead. You know me, I like a party as much as the next person, but I think the focus on the issues last year and this year have been so important for Pride. Last year, the community only hosted a demonstration, which was also connected to the impressive Black Lives Matter protest. This year, we’re able to have some parties again but the focus has shifted towards art & culture, created by and for the queer community. I love the Canal Parade, but, to me, celebrating the creativity of the community is a much more important part of Pride.

(Image: The Station at Lofi, 2020)

How important is it to celebrate Pride and to have safe spaces?
There seems to be a very fake tolerance in the world, and that’s not just for the queer community but also the black community, refugees or people with a handicap for example. People say we’re whining about this issue, but until I can walk the streets safely without looking around me or I’m able to hold my boyfriend’s hand safely while walking the streets, there’s still work to be done. We’re not nearly there yet. I remember someone saying, “everytime you walk out the front door, it’s a political statement.”

Since I started as an artist, whether through performing as a dancer or as a DJ, the feeling to express definitely got stronger. I identify myself more often as queer, than as gay because it covers more ground. I think we should shine a spotlight on underrepresented communities and give them a podium, which is what we do with Supernature.

Do you see positive change happening in nightlife?
There’s a lot more focus on safe spaces and community. I’m starting to notice that term is becoming quite sensitive, because a lot of venues and organisations are claiming to be exactly that, but only a few are really truly safe. The term ‘safe space’ has really developed itself, also from the black community, where they’re finally taking up their space. The queer community was already doing this but still sort of separated several sub-communities. And what I love is that it’s starting to mix in various spaces because there’s a need from the community. I love the evolution of inclusivity that the safe spaces are really being taken seriously and that there’s more being done to actually be that instead of it being a slogan.

(Image: Adonis XXL at Lowlands 2019)

And, I have to ask… you run one of the best areas at Lowlands (Adonis) - what makes it so good?!
We’ve had a lot of conversations with the organisation before we started doing this. There are a lot of things happening, but usually when you see a big company or a big event with a white, heterosexual team come up with a plan for what the queer community needs, that fails miserably 9 times out of 10. Maybe this is an issue of taste, but I’m definitely not interested in another scarf with a rainbow flag on it. What was most important was that a festival as big as Lowlands gave an opportunity to our team of queer people to create this space for queer people, and they gave us carte blanche. We were not being limited in what we do and they trusted us, which was very important. And the final thing is the open atmosphere we create. We’re aware the majority of visitors are straight and yet there’s a great, free vibe which all visitors can connect with and that has been incredible for the past few years.

Adonis will be back at Lowlands for the 2021 edition. Want to stay updated on what’s to come? You can follow Thijs Weijland and Supernature here:

Instagram: @omgitsmmiv / @thesupernature

– Dennis on June 16, 2021

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