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Girls up front: why London’s ladies are the new kings of the club

A new breed of DIY party is sweeping across the city and this time it's the girls who are running the show

Girls to the front club nights collage
By Kate Solomon |
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Facebook may not be perfect, but scouring friends’ RSVPs has definitely improved my Friday night options. Lately, a certain type of night has started popping up more than any other; always held at small venues, with a killer girl-heavy playlist and a wildly oversubscribed attendee list running into the thousands. Beyoncé’s preaching girl power, riot grrrl is back and it looks like these DIY nights with a feminist angle have London’s ladies, me included, very much on board.

Taking the famous riot grrrl maxim of ‘girls to the front’ and running with it, these fem-focused nights aren’t just getting girls onto the dancefloor: they’re getting them on the decks and in the driving seat too. The first one to really take off was G I R L S, run by Narayani Menon and James Walsh. Promising everything from Bikini Kill to Taylor Swift, me and 2,500 other people Facebook RSVPd to the first one, all hoping to cram ourselves into the Star of Kings’ 100-capacity basement. ‘I was really excited to be at a club night in London where the majority of people were women,’ Narayani said about their first event. ‘So many people had come because of recommendations from others.’

Also blowing up is Hips, Tits, Lips. Described simply as ‘a girl-run girl-night’, it sold out in two days. The timing is right reckons co-organiser Becky Sanchez : ‘We had the idea a few years ago but never got round to putting it on. With the recent resurgence of all our favourite girl bands like L7, Bikini Kill and Sleater-Kinney, it seemed like the perfect time. ’As well as playing female artists, these nights are about getting down in a safe and inclusive place. Maybe you’re a guy thinking: I like Taylor Swift, too – am I invited? The answer is a resounding sort of. It’s not that men aren’t invited, more that they’ll be ‘tolerated’ – as HLT states on its site. Many of the venues are associated with campaigns like Good Night Out, working to rid London’s nightlife of harassment, so front-loading nights with girls is one way to achieve this.

While this feminist club scene is still embryonic, there’s already a sense of community – a ‘girl gang’ feel, says Sanchez: ‘HLT is just a small part of a bigger movement. We’ve got girls from other nights DJing. It’s a total love-fest.’

It’s a gang I’m excited to join. Who’s with me?

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