Riot Party is an intersectional, inclusive and anti-slut shaming sex positive rave that centres and celebrates marginalised communities – and particularly sex workers. In this Q&A, the founders tell me about why a sex worker centred play party is what the London kink scene needs.
What is Riot Party?
Founded as a response to a lack of diversity in kink spaces, and following their appropriation of sex worker culture, Riot Party is a rebellion against the conventional, celebrating all bodies, genders and sexualities. Multi-genre, with a line-up predominately made of POC, woman and Queer DJs and performers with lived experience of sex work, RP platforms artists and communities that have traditionally been excluded from kinky nightlife and beyond in a space that welcomes every party-goer.
If this isn’t enough to interest you, Riot is the new brainchild of the founder of Sexquisite Events (the sex worker led arts company I interviewed a while ago) and is co-organised by long-standing music promoter and Black music specialist Alex. As a result of their combined experiences, the Riot team aims to create spaces where people (and in particular marginalised groups) can feel comfortable enough to express and explore their identity and sexuality in a non-judgmental, fun and liberating environment.
Their Manchester launch in July sold out, and included DJs Mix-Stress, Shimrise, DJ Sequinella and Liam Hyphen playing a mix of House, Disco, UK Club, Baile Funk, Afro House, Dancehall, Afrobeats, Amapiano, Reggaeton and more. With a sell-out on the horizon for their London launch, play parties on the cards and performers such as The Slumflower (Chidera Eggerue) and Cybertease, Riot Party is not to be missed.
Who are Riot’s Founders?
The music policy at Riot is very eclectic and diverse thanks to one of the co-founders, Alex, who has worked closely with some of the leading names in House, Disco, Funk/Soul, UKG, Jungle, Grime, Dancehall, Reggae, Afrobeats, including Grammy and MOBO award-winning artists for 15 years. “Music has always been one of my biggest passions, in particular Black music which has historically been marginalised in the mainstream UK club scene,” he says.
Since discovering and engaging with the Kink scene in 2021, he felt compelled to merge his musical background with this new found passion for Kink. So he teamed up with Maedb Joy, the multi-talented founder and artistic director of Sexquisite Events that you will know if you’re one of my readers.
What’s happening with the London kink scene?
If you follow me on social media, you will know that I was very vocal about a set of account deletions from Instagram largely involving kink, sex positive, sex working and LGBTQIA+ users. You’re probably wondering what’s new: this has been happening since time immemorial. Well, because the deletions happened in bulk this time, wider protests and the kink scene’s growing popularity amongst Londoners caught the media’s attention, also thanks to my agent Lover Management’s campaign.
However, many – but not all! – media articles conveniently chose to ignore the sex working element of this censorship, something that also happens when discussing kink and play events, which are being given a sort of politically correct image by the media and some party-goers alike. Yet, kink and sex work originate from similar places, so much so that many members of the kink community are also involved in sex work. But is this really reflected in the parties Londoners get to attend? Maedb and Alex weigh in.
The London kink scene is getting increasingly busy and seems to be all about the sex positive vibes. Why does Riot Party still need to centre sex workers?
“Having attended a few of London’s well-known Kink parties in 2021-22, conceptually myself (Maedb) and Alex both loved the format and freedom offered, but also felt like there were a couple of areas we would improve if we were to create a party of our own, based on our personal experiences.
For me one of the main things that struck me was that kink parties often borrowed from sex worker culture, yet myself and many members of the community hadn’t felt welcomed. It felt as though there was an oversight of the appropriation of sex worker culture, such as throwing around the word ‘Whore!” or wearing stripper attire such as Pleasers… yet some parties actively distanced themselves from sex work and didn’t do anything to support sex worker activism. I don’t have a problem with people dressing up in sex worker adjacent outfits, but I do if they are the type of person to scream #notastripper, which felt prevalent in some spaces.
Alex also identified a lack of diversity within the scene, so we wanted to come together to create a special and unique space, where our communities are celebrated and platformed.”
What’s Riot’s contribution to kink?
“The kink element is central to Riot. The party is a space for people to explore sexuality and kink in as safe an environment as possible, against a backdrop of music, celebration and community.
So far I’d say we just provide the canvas and then our guests express themselves and explore their kinks and desires within our space, our parties come with fully equipped and monitored play spaces that cater to a range of different kinks.”
Where and when is Riot Party being launched?
“We chose to launch in Manchester as we both love and had existing ties to the city. We felt like the local scene needed something like Riot when we launched back in May, and so our main criteria for a venue was somewhere that had a Queer friendly management team who understood and shared our vision and values, and somewhere accessible.
On top of these two important elements, our current Manchester home Rebellion has a nice variety of spaces (indoor and outdoor), it’s centrally located, they have experience in running sex positive club events and a great sound system!
Since launching in Manchester, we have had plenty of friends and our pre-existing event networks ask us to bring the party to London, so we’re launching on Friday September 29th at Lightbox, Vauxhall.
Alex has a long working history with the venue, having hosted music events here for the past seven years. So we felt comfortable having our London launch here, as it’s a well-established LGBTQIA+ space, accessible, with multiple rooms that work well as play spaces and a great outdoor area. The club room has a state-of-the-art LED lighting system so we’re anticipating a great party for our London launch!
Who’s performing at Riot?
At Riot, performance is programmed by Maedb due to her background with curating live performance for Sexquisite’s cabaret, which sells out with 5-star reviews regularly in London, Manchester and Bristol.
Upcoming performers with Riot include:
- TheSlumFlower (Sunday Times Number 1 Bestselling Author of WHAT A TIME TO BE ALONE)
- April Fiasco (burlesque, comedy and cabaret artist, co-organiser of socialist strip collective Cybertease and resident host of Sexquisite Events)
- Angel Bella (sex worker, photographer, and Manchester’s baddest kink icon)
- Joshua Adeoyin (MTV, Glitterbox, BBC, PLT, BGT).
Where do you see Riot going in the future?
We feel really optimistic about the future of Riot, and we both often find it surreal just how quickly it’s grown and continues to grow since launching/announcing the brand in May 2023.
At the moment we love that Riot has allowed people to find community, form friendships and fulfil desires. We love that we’re able to champion our own communities whilst having fun, creating more opportunities for QTIPOC and Sex Workers.
As long as this remains at the core of what we do in the future, we’re happy to see where things take us!
Find out more about Riot
I am sadly going to have to miss the first London Riot party due to an events clash, but I can’t wait to attend and see where they go next! For now, find out more about Riot below:
- Buy tickets for Riot London here
- Sign up to Riot’s mailing list here
- Follow @riotpartyuk on IG
- Follow @sexquisite.events on IG
- Follow @maedb.joy on IG.