DJ Guapis has one week to organize what may well be the first event in Mexico City of its kind – a techno dubstep perreo featuring shibari artists and a no-photo policy, for and by the trans community. This is no small undertaking. There was the matter of recruiting the door crew, the bartenders, the DJs, shibari artists, and hosts – all of whom are trans. (Only the security staff is non-trans.) Then, there are the complexities of persuading cis people they want to hit “attend” on a Facebook event hosted by something called TRNSX. But logistical challenges go far beyond simple representational metrics and messaging.
Guapis – aka La Havi, aka one of CDMX’s most visible non-cis faces – says the event she has spent a full year planning must center the trans experience. In an interview with Remezcla, she frets over still having to hire the driver who will ferry DJs from the subway to the venue. “I need to have that kind of consideration because nobody thinks about us,” she says. “They don’t know what it’s like for us to walk down the street.”
“I need to have that kind of consideration because nobody thinks about us.”
Guapis started throwing parties almost two years ago. A resilient digital artist, sculptor, and incandescent model whose career has spanned hormone replacement therapy and many facial tattoos, her first major event series was an art kid reggaeton rave that her crew dubbed Perrealismo. The event attracted a devoted following that loved its sweaty dance floor, raw reggaeton sounds, and the anything-goes culture facilitated by warehouse venues. The party hosted Puerto Rican legendary duo OG Black and Master Joe and made appearances in Oaxaca and Guadalajara. Havi got known, even attracting bookings as far away as Montreal’s Slut Island Festival. But years of building with cis associates and collaborators, of constantly having to explain why it was rude to stare, left Guapis tired. “I don’t want to be the only girl on the scene,” she explains. “I’m not interested in the leading role.”
So she started building a new team. TRNSX’s October 13 debut edition features DJ Gatorade, a trans man who throws CDMX’s Baby Ratta parties, and DJ Travieza, genderfluid illustrator and co-founder of Mami Slut. Many of the artists came to Havi from friendships forged over Instagram, but she met techno DJ Anthony de Peri at the neighborhood comida corrida. “I said, ‘Güey, no mames,’” Havi remembers. “‘You need to play my party and you’re going to be my headliner.’”
The recruitment process is at the heart of the TRNSX project, because the fact of the matter is few CDMX trans people have had the opportunity to hone their skills in clubland. Havi plans to start a DJ workshop series for trans talent, motivated in part by her community’s survival. In Mexico City (as in many other small and large cities), the most accessible form of trans employment is sex work. Currently, that professional community is up in arms in Mexico City after witnesses reported being targeted for violence by groups of men in cars and on motorcycles.
It’s no exaggeration to say that the TRNSX crew are experts in commonsense security tactics. Guapis and Gatorade recently developed a workshop for staff at downtown Mexico City hotspot Terminal Club Antisocial that showcases best practices for interacting with trans and queer customers. Their syllabus is simple: Female security staff should pat down all feminine-presenting individuals; strive to use gender-neutral language when addressing people you don’t know; no staring allowed; individuals accompanied by women will be allowed to use the women’s bathroom. (Many Mexico City clubs refuse to have gender-neutral restrooms because they are considered a security concern.)
No cameras will be allowed at TRNSX and those found perpetuating discriminatory behavior against fellow patrons will have their IFEs documented, to be denied entry at future editions. Cis people will pay more than double than trans folk at the door — and they should consider it restitution, Guapis says.
“At the end of the day, it’s more than a party.”
We live in an age of social justice recoil. There are those who are weary about all this talk of “safe spaces,” who think inclusivity is something you swap out for audio quality and the technical mastery of DJs — or just a buzzword that means precisely nothing at all. They are allowed to have their priorities. But so are those who must wear fanny packs over their dress on the dance floor to thwart people from gawking at their genitals. You will not find any Boiler Room graduates on the TRNSX lineup. However, those looking for a peaceful wild night out may rest assured that TRNSX aims to protect their right to forgo the fanny pack.
“Because at the end of the day, it’s more than a party,” DJ Guapis says. “It’s a space of reflection, of affectivity.” A place that for a long time was only in her dreams – “where people aren’t afraid to be with us and co-exist with us and dance.”