Queer DJ collective Go Grrrls has taken Bangkok’s clubbing stage by storm. We met with co-founders Dookie, Mae Happyair and Cleo P to discuss female empowerment, queer clubbing and Thailand’s LGBT culture.
What do you get when you mix Thailand’s electrifying nightlife with its colourful LGBT scene? For female DJs Dookie, Mae Happyair and Cleo P, the trio behind Bangkok-based clubbing collective Go Grrrls, it’s under-the-radar music and queer culture in one big party. Brought together by their shared love of partying, belief in female empowerment and appreciation of the LGBT community, the three friends launched their concept back in 2013 to provide a fun and inclusive environment they felt was lacking in Thailand’s party scene. “We all worked in entertainment, so we always saw each other and hung out together,” says Cleo. “One day we said, ‘Let’s do something fun together. Let’s bring our friends, play the music we want to hear.’ That’s where we started.”
That small idea kicked off the project, now in its seventh year, with a reach way beyond its own dancefloor. “The idea of the three of us coming together is something that I really wanted for a long time,” explains Dookie. “There’s a male-dominated DJ scene in Bangkok, so when I meet other female DJs, I feel really empowered. I wanted to connect with them and do something together where the three of us girls can control the whole night.” Since those early events, their mission has expanded. Having begun as a female empowerment initiative, Go Grrrls now takes pride in being the only queer party in Bangkok. “In Bangkok, there’s a clear separation between the gay, the lesbian, and the straight,” says Dookie. “They don’t usually come together in one place.” After a visit to Australia, she fell in love with its queer scene, vowing to create her own inclusive space where everyone could be whatever they wanted to be. “People come back to our parties because they feel liberated. When you come to Go Grrrls, it’s a space where you can do whatever you want and face no judgement, where people are open-minded and can have a good time together.”
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The diversity of Go Grrrls’s parties shines not only through the crowd but also through their music. Each specialising in their own genre, Dookie, Mae and Cleo P take pride in breathing life into their parties by playing a refreshing mix of indie, techno and hip hop. Dookie explains, “I love the diversity of our parties and our music genres. It’s still the same goal: whoever you are, whatever you are, the music is for everyone. It’s not just one genre of music; it’s different all night long, but we make it flow.”
In recent years, there has been a growing social acceptance of queer culture in Thailand. “I think more and more people are open to queerness, to something that’s different from themselves,” says Dookie, attributing this phenomenon to an increase in media representation. “People get to understand another level of the spectrum, and they acknowledge the queer community more and more.” These changes are reflected in the younger generation of the LGBT community, who are stepping into the spotlight, pursuing careers such as dancing, singing and modelling. “They’re doing great,” Cleo says. “Right now, in Thailand, in the world, everything is open to them. I’m very happy to see them like this.”
However, Go Grrrls still sees room for improvement. “I still want the politics to come in,” Dookie confides. “Even though we are an open country, there’s still no same-sex marriage law. We have a big LGBT+ community, but we still have nothing in the way of the law or politics.” Despite this, they have high hopes, envisioning a future where the community can come together and achieve something bigger – and if, much like their own concept, those achievements find their roots at a party and in togetherness, then all the better for it. “I feel like we should be kicking it off, that we should be getting everyone together and doing something big for Thailand,” Cleo chimes in. “We want to show the world that in Thailand and in Asia, we have queer culture too. We want to represent that. You just have to know who you are and be strong, and be whoever you want to be. It’s tough sometimes, but you’re not alone.”