Historic queer dance puts accessibility first

Homo Hop celebrates 24th birthday with dorky dad theme

Illustration by Gabrielle Funk

Homo Hop is an annual dance party hosted by the University of Winnipeg’s LGBT Centre.

“Homo Hop is a tradition,” Zee Morales, the centre coordinator, says. “This year it’s at The Good Will, and the theme is Dorky Dads. It’s really fun and accessible. It’s easy to dress as a dorky dad without spending a lot of money on costumes, and it’s cool to see how people interpret that.”

The LGBT Centre is a resource centre on campus for members of the LGBT community, Morales says.

“We have free safe sex supplies and a community space to hang out and find other people who you have that particular identity in common with. We plan educational and social events for people to hang out in a safe space.”

Homo Hop is one of the longest-running queer events in the city.

“This is the 24th annual Homohop – it’s older than me!” Morales says.

Jón Olafson, a local DJ and prominent member of the queer community, played a founding role in the event’s early days and is returning this year to headline.

“Homo Hops were some of my first DJ gigs in the city 15 years ago during my undergrad at U of W, when I was quite an active member of the LGBT Centre,” he says.

The Good Will Social Club is wheelchair accessible, has gender-neutral washrooms and puts all of its staff through annual safer spaces training.

“I’m very comfortable with The Good Will, considering their house rules and how they operate,” Olafson says.

Before accepting a gig, Olafson says he is “very cognisant of who runs the space, their politics and what’s important to them.”

Morales notes that when it comes to creating events by and for the queer community, accessibility is “one of the biggest things” to consider.

“A point of accessibility is having spaces where centre members who are neurodivergent don’t have to be around loud noises and flashing lights,” Morales explains. “The Good Will has a quieter area, and we’re bringing board games so those members can still be a part of the event but not necessarily have to do the dancing and drinking.”

In creating safer, more accessible spaces for young queer people, Olafson says that “welcoming and inviting allies can create a safety net” for queer folks who aren’t out but want to attend.

“Allies can also be drawn into our events and hopefully exposed to a whole new world or conversation or way of being they’ve never seen before, and I think that’s a really beautiful thing, but it’s a fine line,” Olafson says.

Olafson says that fine line can be crossed when queer events get so popular that queer folks become a minority on the dance floor.

“That’s something I’m always looking out for, and if it got to that point, I would stop, take a breath and reassess,” he says.

“There’s a good mix of people,” Morales says of the Homo Hop audience. “It’s a great place to meet people, dance, have good conversations ... there are prizes for best dressed dorky dad, a photo booth – it’s a good time!”

Homo Hop happens at The Good Will Social Club on Nov. 10. Doors open at 9 p.m., and music starts at 10 p.m.

Published in Volume 72, Number 9 of The Uniter (November 9, 2017)

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