Time Out discovers the loophole allowing boys to attend one of London‘s coolest musical gatherings

  • Girlcore

    Look what the girls dragged in: a Child of WowoW at last month's iPod Battle (image © Luka Marchant /

  • Sugar and spice, and all things nice, that’s what little girls are made of. Until, that is, they hit their early twenties, move to Hackney, form a DIY collective that’s just for girls, and cause near-hysteria on the dancefloor at their riotous, mashed-up parties.

    Conceived last summer by Lolo Chambovet, Girlcore came into life in the back of a car while this 24-year old Parisian and her co-founders pondered the notion of lightweight festival-goers. ‘All of the arenas at Secret Garden closed and everyone just went to bed. Five or six of us girls didn’t want to go to sleep yet, but there was no music. One of us had a car so we went and listened to music in it and shouted “car-core, car-core, car-core!” It was really funny. Then some weird guys who were a bit fucked came along, but we just wanted to be on our own and not be hassled or anything. So we said “It’s girlcore, okay? Girlcore!” ’

    Back in London, Girlcore proved to be a word that would not die, staying in the minds of the car-core girls, inspiring one to suggest throwing a party ‘that’s just for girls for a change’. Cue 20 young ladies trooping to a friend’s house for booze (courtesy of one guest who was conveniently a vodka PR), music, dancing and putting sparkly things in their hair before heading out to a gig.

    ‘ “Fucking hell,” we said,’ remembers Chambovet. ‘“It’s Girlcore again!” Everyone kept saying “girlcore” as a joke all night wherever we went, and then this one guy in a band dedicated a song to us – “This one’s for Girlcore!” It all started really organically.’

    In February, Girlcore upsized from house parties to club nights, welcoming everyone with only one condition: you had to be willy-free to walk through the door. Despite doing no PR for the event, there was a queue down Kingsland Road most of the night: ‘It was super lovely. There were eight of us girls who told all our friends, who told their friends, and it was packed!’ A sledgehammer of a clue, if you will, that they were on to something.

    Three parties in, however, and controversy has rocked Girlcore. ‘Some girls wanted Girlcore nights to remain girls-only, but others didn’t want to exclude boys all of the time.’ Answer? ‘It was [a DJ called the Lovely] Jonjo’s idea. He kept saying that he really wanted to play Girlcore, but he’s a boy so he couldn’t. But he was really begging for it. And we thought, what could we do so that he could play for us? Then one day he said that he would dress up as a girl, just for fun. And we said let’s do it, let’s call it Dragcore! The boys have to dress up to get in. Our nights are about having fun, and Dragcore is about turning boys into girls!’

    The girls also hosted the first London leg of Paris’ infamous iPod Battle last month with eight teams battling it out to be crowned number one (including WowoW, above). Tables were danced on, voices were made hoarse and croaky from cheering, and the steel barrier around the stage was bent by hysterical fans.

    Girlcore now has around ten ‘core’ members, and more than 30 who sign up to the blog and newsletter (posts include film reviews, hot-new-song alerts and funny stories about boyfriends). The girls come from the worlds of media, music, fashion and performance art, and the most important thing is how they help each other out, whether lending a hand at events or suggesting bands for parties.

    ‘It’s funny,’ says Chambovet. ‘People ask us whether we’re a lesbian gang. But it’s not like that at all. Some of us are, some of us aren’t, some are married… We’re open to everyone, and that’s the whole point. We don’t want anyone putting stickers in our hands telling us what we’re about.’

    Girlcore presents Dragcore is this Thursday at Catch.

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