vFd: The Femme Renaissance of Vogue Fabrics

Having played home to some of most playful, subversively creative and shining creatures of London’s LGBT scene, Vogue Fabrics Dalston has plans to rock the existing club landscape with a relaunch. January 2018 will see Vogue Fabrics reborn as vFd, an intentionally femme-centred nightlife space which will also host their first ever regular in-house night, Femmetopia.

We caught up with Kat Hudson, contemporary pop-surrealist artist and independent curator, one of the masterminds behind vFd’s radical femme renaissance.

|Kat Hudson at vFd

As we’ve already established, Vogue Fabrics is relaunching as ‘vFd’—Why the relaunch, and what’s the new ethos?

vFd is coming up to it’s 10th year in 2018 and has entered into a sort of natural transition. Lyall invited Phoebe (Patey-Ferguson) and myself to join him in running the space a few months ago with a view to hosting more arts and live performance events. All three of us soon got to talking about the state of the current queer club scene. In the decade since vFd first opened, LGBTQ+ nightlife in London has suffered significant blows with 58% of our venues closing since 2006! Of those remaining venues, most are white male led, gay masc focused spaces and, whilst they provide a much-needed sanctuary of their own, we have been left sorely short of alternatives. The need for more predominantly femme-led, femme-centred spaces, as we face continued oppression and harassment of our sisters, was obvious and something we’ve been craving for ourselves for a long time. We looked at each other and said ‘We’re a bunch of queer femmes, we can do this, let’s run with it!’

Our new ethos really centres around intersectional feminism and creating a safe space for queer-femme-identifying people from all backgrounds; femmeX, female, trans, non-binary, QTIPOC, radically queer, you name it. Of course friends are welcome too but it’s primarily about creating a safe space with femmes at its heart. A place where we can not only let our hair down without fear of unwanted attention but feel accepted, share ideas, and celebrate each other and our self-expression in our own way.

As far as the name comes into it, we were actually put under pressure by Vogue a few years ago, when Charles’ night LOVERBOY really took off, to lose ‘Vogue’ from our official name and abbreviate to V.F.D. (Vogue Fabrics Dalston). All we’ve done for the relaunch is emphasise the F in our new logo as a nice little nod to our new femme-centred ethos.

|by Emily Rose England

As well as being a space for nightlife, it’s also going to be offering residencies are taking shape as something of an exhibition space/creative hub, can you tell us a bit more about that?

Yes! We’re really excited about our new arts programme. I’m especially excited to be working on this having met so many of my creative friends in this sweaty little basement! Our Creative Director and owner of vFd, Lyall Hakaraia, has been mentoring and working with artists, fashion designers, performers, and all kinds of creatives for many years. Our window exhibit on Stoke Newington Road had been a great success and Lyall really wanted us to build on what he started with all of that.

Going forward we will be working with more artists and performers, hosting more arts events in general as well as running a couple of weekend-long arts festivals (first one coming up in May 2018!). We will be working with artists from all backgrounds as well as with arts schools such as Central St Martins and Goldsmiths.

We’re also making the venue available to hire seven days a week at affordable rates to creatives for rehearsals, group crits, life drawing, video and photo shoots. We want to support local artists and performers as much as we can, promote talent, and offer up our space for anyone who can make creative use of it.

|by Emily Rose England

Tell us more about ‘Femmetopia’, your first regular in-house club night?

Femmetopia came from this feeling of the club as a utopia for us. As we developed our new ethos, this feeling of utopia really grew and grew. I think the term ’safe space’ is thrown around a lot within the queer community, but it’s about so much more than just being safe for us. It’s about having an escape from the outside world in which we are the majority group, in which we can feel not only accepted but celebrated and adored for who we are!

Femmetopia is our take on a club night that embodies that feeling. A house party style night with different guest hosts each week, live performance, DJ’s and great music! We already have some fabulous hosts lined up including Lucy McCormick for our opening night on January 20th, Phoebe’s Femme Feral Gang take over on Feb 3rd and a special Valentines party with my gorgeous friends Jender Anomie and Joey Fourr on Feb 17th. You can get tickets for our first Femmetopia party on January 20th here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/femmetopia-feat-lucy-mccormick-tickets-41463781286?aff=es2

|by Emily Rose England

Does anything about London’s current queer nightlife landscape give you hope?

Yes actually! Whilst there has been a lot of not-so-positive change over the last ten years, lots of wonderful things have popped up too! For example queer femme QTIPOC nights BBZ and Pxssy Palace have really been leading the way recently. Their ideologies and the sanctuaries they create have been really inspiring to us.

|by Emily Rose England

We hear a lot about the closure of LGBTQ+ nightlife spaces, but so little of that conversation is about femme-centred spaces. Do you feel the scene still has much to offer people who aren’t able-bodied cis, white gay men?

Honestly, not much no. You have to look pretty hard. I was lucky that I landed on the doorstep of The Retro Bar when I first came to London. Through the friends I made there I also found vFd and the Queen Adelaide but without that link I wouldn’t have had a clue. All the printed LGBTQ+ news publications are very male focused and the scene in general is so saturated with cis white gay men it would be easy to get lost looking for your niche. Friends and I have often found ourselves in situations that feel as misogynistic, if not more so, than many straight venues. There are occasional nights across the city for others of course but no specific venues, no regularity. She Bar I think is the last lesbian bar standing and even that feels like a very binary space to be in.

Any tricks up your sleeve?

Haha a few yes! But I’m keeping them firmly tucked away for now. What fun would it be if we gave you everything at once after all? You’ll just have to wait and see.

|The vFd Team

What can revellers expect when vFd opens it’s doors this January?

As Phoebe beautifully put it in our Femmetopia manifesto, you can expect a celebration of radical visions, passionate transgressions and your wildest imagination. It is our space to prove it is possible to do things differently.

Nothing is fixed, everything can be transformed, take a risk and stretch the limits of possibility with us…

Love. Art. Magic. x

You can follow vFd on Instagram: here.

You can follow their Facebook page here.

Find out more about the first Femmetopia and grab tickets on their Facebook event.

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