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Get schooled on the dance floor 

The Queer Possibilities lecture series “aims to expand the geographies of queerness in the city of Halifax” with radical lectures and dance parties.

click to enlarge Lynnee Denise engages “questions of queerness.”
  • Lynnee Denise engages “questions of queerness.”

Beginning this week, Halifax will be home to a rather unconventional lecture series. On the last Thursday of each month, a community organizer is invited to give a public lecture followed by a dance party. The new Queer Possibilities lecture series "aims to expand the geographies of queerness in the city of Halifax" and "emphasize that the pleasures of the mind are also the pleasures of the body."

The series is organized by Phanuel Antwi and Ardath Whynacht and came about after a discussion they had one day over lunch. "As is often the case when Ardath and I meet," says Antwi, an English professor at Saint Mary's, "our conversation orbits around love and its many revolutionary impulses. On this particular day, as I'm remembering it, we were craving a queer public, one where the future designs and desires of what is, of what could be, remained open. And, how else to achieve this openness than having a discussion with an informed person and afterwards, to home the ideas we've engaged, letting the body move, on the dance floor?"

Upcoming lecture topics include queering blackness with Lynnee Denise, queering mental health/queer self-love/revolution with Whynatch, and queering incarceration with Conrad Ryan. The presentations are "intended to promote critical discussion on queerness and gender in a welcoming community space, featuring high profile academic and community speakers and excellent music."

Denise, who will be speaking at the inaugural event this week, is an academic and DJ with a particular affinity towards Halifax for both personal and historical reasons. "It was a major destination for a number of my ancestors who escaped the institution of slavery," she says. "Particularly, I am interested in Halifax as its historic position as a safe station on the underground railroad system."

Her talk will draw "from black social and political movements to present the dynamic range of queerness and music of the African Diaspora," all with the goal of "engaging questions of queerness to develop linkages in our different social practices."

The main focus will be the music and gathering spaces of minorities within the queer community. Denise will discuss "a period in New York City where discos were considered to be 'safe houses' for black and Latino queer communities. The lecture will look at the role race, technology and music played in the development of an underground culture."

Drawing further on the subject, Denise will also be looking to highlight a more local connection. "I will be making the link between the underground railroad system that extended to Canada in the 19th century and the underground club culture created in the United States in the 20th century," she says, "that was equally aimed at escaping violence and other systems of inequality in a more modern context."

Couple this discussion with some great music, and it's sure to be a unique experience. It is this unconventional approach to dialogue that brought Denise and the series organizers together. "I met her a year ago, in April, at a conference in Chicago," says Antwi. "Her presentation rocked me." Combining academic lectures with music is nothing new to Denise. "At Lynnee's presentation where she DJed her talk, where what I was hearing in the music I was hearing in her paper," he says, "I became conscious of the ways the body corresponds with the mind, as if they resembled each other."


Queering Blackness: A community lecture and dance party with DJ Lynnee Denise
Thursday, February 27, 8pm
Alteregos Cafe & Catering, 2193 Gottingen Street
Suggested donation $10


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